5th & Final Week in Ireland – Ahoghill to Dublin

img_4508-1One of the treats about being in Northern Ireland with Deirdre and Roy is that we will have an opportunity to attend the Cloughmill’s Annual Fair where Roy and the band he is in, “The Down & Out Bluegrass Band” is the headliner!


What fun it will be to attend a local fair, have fun with the locals and listen to some toe tapping music!  Here’s a poster from last years’ fair – it promises to be a fun filled day!


We will spend a few more days in Ahoghill, possibly visiting Antrim Castle & Gardens and the town of Balleymena..


…and getting our fill of some great fish & chips at Stewart Frew’s Chip shop…
















all before saying fare thee well to our hosts and heading south to our first stop, Newgrange, which was constructed about 5,200 years ago (3,200 B.C.) making it older than Stonehenge and the Great Pyramids of Giza!


Our driving route will then take us south from Newgrange to Trim where we will spend the night in a lovely B&B called Highfield House.


Trim is an absolutely delightful village, complete with a castle, where the film “Braveheart” was filmed.  11666239_1003896072968423_101061314621389409_n




Great places to eat and hear live music as well.




Next stop, the bustling historic town of Dublin!  We’ll spend a couple of days exploring as many sights as possible… the Book of Kells at Trinity College, Dublin Castle Chapel, St. Stephen’s Green, Guinness Brewery, the national museum and art galleries… you name it, this place offers a wide selection and it might prove difficult to choose!




guinness-storehouse-entrance guinness








Soooo many things to see and enjoy!

The final week ends when I take Lynne to the Dublin airport on June 15th to catch her flight back home. I will turn in the rental car after dropping her off and wishing her safe travels and head straight for the ferry dock to catch the ferry as a foot passenger to Holyhead, Wales.

I look forward to my adventures which will continue for another 3 months through Scotland, England and Wales, but I’m sure I’ll miss Lynne’s company after we part! We have such a great trip planned; it promises to be filled with laughter, gorgeous drop-dead scenery, music, lip-smackin’ food and great friends!

Donegal to Ahoghill and the Giant’s Causeway – Week 4 in Ireland


Our fourth week in Ireland will start out with a drive through the countryside starting at Slieve League, one of the highest and finest marine cliffs in Europe. According to an article I found at www.ireland.com “Words fail to capture the majesty and sheer height of the cliffs. With twirling seabirds flying overhead and nothing but crisp blue ocean before you, it feels like you’re at the very edge of the world.” That sounds intriguing wouldn’t you say?  slieveleague

After that fine specimen of a view we will be working our way to Londonderry through what promises to be a beautiful drive through some more fantastic views of lakes, bogs and mountains in every shade of green one could imagine.




Our lodging in Londonderry, Saddler’s House, is a nice historic B&B, named to commemorate the first owner who hand-crafted saddles in the 1860s and 1870s.


It’s a nice quick walk to the very old walled town we can explore.

londonderry-walled-city londonderry-walled-city2





Since we’re staying in Londonderry for a couple of days, we also plan to take another drive out west into the countryside to visit Glenveagh National Park  and drive a loop tour in the peninsula out toward Falcarragh and Dunfanaghy before returning to Londonderry.




dunfanaghyLooks like quite a scenic route, doesn’t it?


Next stop? Ahoghill!  I look forward to reconnecting once again with my dear friends, Deirdre & Roy, who will be our hosts for the rest of the week. This is going to be fun. Perhaps we’ll even have the pleasure of enjoying another “Genealogy Night” with the Frew girls too! They are always a sure source of some good laughs and fun times!

Deirdre is so much fun to spend time with and it promises to be much the same once again as we explore the Antrim coast with her visiting places nearby such as Dark Hedges, Raithlin Island, Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge and Dunluce Castle.  dark-hedges-tree-tunnels

Rathlin Island




It certainly promises to be yet another wonderful week filled to the brim with beautiful landscapes and vistas, interesting historical buildings and friendships brimming with giggles and genealogy!

With just one week left, we won’t want our 5 week tour of Ireland to come to an end!






Week 3 in Ireland – Doolin to Donegal!


Doolin to Donegal!

This portion of the trip, the third week, promises a wonderful variety of new sights and exciting discoveries.  With the exception of Galway (at Point D on the map above) and then further north, immediately around Westport (at Point F), this is one region of Ireland  I have not explored very much at all yet! It will be fun to check out some new territory and roads not traveled.

Doolin is where we begin week 3 of our 5 week trip around Ireland.


Having never been even near Doolin, I’m relying heavily on guidebooks for suggestions and ideas.

I hear it’s a great spot and a major centre for traditional Irish music nightly in the local pubs – this sounds like a bit of fun waiting to happen!







We’ve booked a bed in the Aille River Hostel situated on the banks of the river.  Nice! Always enjoy a water feature!


The Cliffs of Moher (a must see) are also close-by so a guided walk might just be in order to enjoy their magnificence to its fullest.


There’s also Doolin Cave, Doonagore Castle and the hostel we’re staying at even has free laundry services!  We’ll probably need that after 3 weeks traveling – ya think?doolin-cavedoonagore-castle




aonhasas-walkers-lodgeThe Aran Isles are just offshore so we’ll hop on the ferry at Doolin to explore Inishmore and spend the night at Aonghasa’s Walker’s Lodge.





The way to get around the island, other than walking or bicycling, is by pony carts.  So many interesting sights to see on Inishmor and what a fun way to see them!


Course, it wouldn’t be complete without a stop at an Aran Sweater shop!

doolin-ferriesAfter we take the ferry back across to Doolin to gather our car, we’ll load up and drive to Galway to spend a couple of days.

Galway is a busy Gaelic city, with a vibrant historic old town bustling with the young and old alike.














We’ll be staying at a fun hostel that sits right in the heart of the old town called Sleepzone Galway. Its clean, has great service and a wonderful self-catering kitchen to cook in!


The road will take us further north after Galway into the Connemara National Park. We’ll be staying in a remote hostel within the park’s embrace as we work our way through the scenic wonderland to the town of Westport on the other side of Croagh Patrick.

Along the route we’ll pass Aasleagh Falls, the “Coffin Ship” monument to the great Famine and then the peaceful estuary of Clew Bay before arriving at our hostel, the Old Mill, in Westport!10403218_999849306706433_4196422339906328817_n











We will end the week by traveling from Westport, through the town of Sligo (stopping to visit it along the way because my 3rd great grandmother, Mary Finnigan, was born there) before driving on to our last stop for the week – Donegal – where we will rest our heads at Donegal Town Independent Hostel.





That concludes week 3 of our adventures in Ireland.  Until the next time… enjoy dreaming travel dreams of your own. Next time we’ll continue our travel plans by heading to Londonderry and Northern Ireland!

Finalizing Trip Plans – Week 2 in Ireland!

Our second week will begin at Ballinskelligs on the Ring of Kerry at Point A on the map below.  


At Ballinskelligs we’ll be staying at Skellig Lodge just a 5 minute walk from the beach!



During my first visit to this wonderful place I didn’t have enough time  to visit the World Heritage site, an ancient monastery – Michael Skelligs. I’m really looking forward to taking a boat ride to it and exploring its treasures.





It sits on an island on a terraced shelf 600 feet above sea level, and was developed between the sixth and eighth centuries.


It contains six beehive cells, two oratories as well as a number of stone crosses and slabs and a later medieval church.

After enjoying the beach and islands we will head inland to Killarney – the town in the Park – Killarney National Park.  This is another spot I wanted to spend more time in having just driven through one day en route to somewhere else during my last visit!  kilarney-area-map

We plan to spend two days here exploring all of the beautiful wonders via bicycle and “jaunting” rides.



So much to see: Ross Castle, Muckross House & Gardens, Innisfallen Monastery, Tore Waterfall!





Our hostel looks quite inviting kilarney-hostelas well as the town!





The next stop we’ll head for is Dingle and the Dingle Penninsula!  What a fun & colorful fishing village! Hopefully I’ll be able to reconnect with Eileen, a local who lives there and that I made friends with one evening enjoying some local musical talent two years ago!



Perhaps we’ll even have the opportunity to go out on another boat ride and get to interact with Dingle’s very own famous dolphin, Fungie!



The town is delightfully charming and filled to the max with sights for the senses.



The possibility of enjoying some local color by visiting a pub that is half pub/half hardware store is also quite likely!


We will finish off our week with a nice drive along the coastline further north to Doolin – our jumping off point to the Aran Islands!dingle-to-doolin-map

But that’s another post about the next week of our trip.  Stay tuned!










Finalizing Travel Dreams – First Week in Ireland!

After dreaming up a new trip in my last post,  “Travel Plans for 2017,” I’ve been quite busy this past month taking the steps to make this dream a reality.  I’ve been reserving lodging, renting cars, and planning out a detailed route and itinerary, but…. I haven’t been doing it alone!

A couple of days after I posted my last entry  I received a message from a dear friend, Lynne, that I’ve known for many, many years. Like a lot of you, she also ‘follows’ my adventures on my blog and is an avid supporter.  (Thank you Lynne!) Recently, after she read about my current dream, she’s exclaimed, “I wanna go!”  I’ve inspired someone else to dream; this is cool! So I responded and said, “Welcome aboard Lynne – let’s start dreaming up this trip together then. Now is the perfect time!”

I already had purchased my plane ticket, so she started looking at her calendar & my itinerary to decide where she might be able to dovetail into my roughly sketched plans. A couple of days of checking her calendar, available flights and the like, she announced that she wants to join me right at the onset of the trip.  She found a seat at a reasonable price on the same flight (non-stop from San Francisco to Dublin) that I had booked and we’re set!

She also allotted enough time to completely tour Ireland with me – a full 5 weeks! Originally, I had thought about flying over to Amsterdam from Dublin for a couple of weeks but I have decided to save that portion of the dream for next year. I’m going to spend the entire time right there in Ireland touring clockwise around the Emerald Isle with Lynne instead.

We will be taking the same basic route that I took by myself a couple of years ago, revisiting some sights I vowed to return to and adding a few stops I had previously missed. On my previous trip I only allotted 3 weeks time to complete this circuit, but this time we’re tacking on an additional 2 weeks to allow for more exploration and fun. From my first trip to Ireland, I learned that I wanted to spend more time at each place because there are so many things to see and do in each place as well as along the route between each stop.

Below is the route we’ll take (designated in blue) and the places we will stay in overnight lodging (designated by the yellow beds).ireland-driving-route-and-lodging-map-2017Quite a route, isn’t it?  It’s going to be a lot of fun. We will start out in Dublin (which is barely visible on this map about midway on the east coast of the island. You can just see the “n” in Dublin sticking out on the right.)  We will rent a car in Dublin and head south toward our first stop, Glendalough, as we begin our clockwise tour around Ireland & back to Dublin again. This will all transpire from May 10 to June 15th.

The next map view denotes some of the various “sights” we’ll stop to see and admire along our route with a partial list on the legend to the left….  Castles, Abbey’s, pubs, waterfalls, ancient burial mounds of the Irish Celtic nobility! As you can see, we’ve been scouring our guide books for places we don’t want to miss and have placed a marker on the map so we’ll know when we are near one while traveling and don’t accidentally drive past it.sights-to-see-ireland-2017Our first stop, Glendalough, is a gem of a place.  There is a lovely Youth Hostel there called “The Lodge.” It is nestled in the pleasant green valley right next door to the ancient monastic ruins where the monks created the illustrated Book of Kells during the middle ages.st-kevins-church-glendalough



10553516_993416654016365_5854738671859989715_nThe view below is taken from Sally Gap in the Wicklow Mountains above the beautiful valley and Glendalough as seen below.10532126_993994307291933_8130756409417233461_oThis the “The Lodge” where we’ll be staying for a couple of nights while we explore the ruins and the gorgeous and extensive trail system around the valley and Glendalough lower and upper lakes. 11407054_993416594016371_5983251527336200980_n







We’ll spend a couple of days and then travel south and west toward Blarney, visiting the Rock of Cashel en route.




11168007_994630877228276_8585755916422946530_oWe’ll spend the night at the Muskerry Arms Pub and B&B in Blarney. That’s handy!  Some friends of Lynne’s are currently touring Spain. Toward the end of their 3 month trip they will also be going to Ireland and plan to do a similar route as ours only in a counter clockwise direction.

Our paths will cross in Blarney. They’ve also booked a room at the same B&B the same night. We’ll have the wonderful opportunity to connect up with them, hear about their travels as they are about to complete their final week of traveling and as we are just getting started on ours!  What fun that will be. There will probably be some good craic that night and libations all around. Good thing we will only have to stumble up the stairs afterward!muskerry-arms


The following day we’ll make an attempt to kiss the Blarney Stone and be blessed with the gift of eloquent gab. We will also plan on exploring the vast & varied grounds of Blarney Castle afterwards.


11219527_995682093789821_4142126572551383489_nWe’re hoping to get to the castle early in the morning to get a choice spot in line in what can become a VERY long line that can take a very long time in order to kiss the Blarney Stone. (I didn’t do it the last time I was there because the wait was about 3 hours long and very very boring!) 10343664_995682843789746_7716757954075529985_n


11028967_995682620456435_1860892608053842918_nAs you can see the castle is fantastic but the surrounding extensive grounds are equally outstanding to explore.  10252165_995684777122886_3294598328229549683_n









blarney-castle29It will be a full day complete with visiting a Chocolate Shop in town! After that full day schedule we will travel a short distance to the tidy seaside fishing town of Kinsale to spend another couple of nights.11059455_995677980456899_7556119262196213940_o



1506040_994961530528544_5424404912137018417_nKinsale is a delightful town, full of color, charm and hospitality around every turn. There are all kinds of wonderfully delightful pubs to whet your whistle in and where you can catch some foot-stomping traditional Irish music too!10291056_994965577194806_4131782932780896882_n




11412371_994961477195216_2031011047503962447_nThere is a wonderful waterfront to stroll along with all kinds of fascinating and whimsical things to admire…11017698_995030337188330_8762024086611425117_n

Great places to eat freshly caught seafood prepared to perfection…



11415530_995030517188312_969265952435813754_oand if it’s shopping you’re looking for, Kinsale has a plethora of shops to choose from up and down the twisting, turning and colorful lanes of town!11234810_994965513861479_2648656310316098221_n





11220114_995015307189833_1501058840826957314_nKinsale even has a Castle and a nearby fort!

To finish off the first week Lynne and I will travel next to another lovely little village, Kenmare, stopping along the way to stop & smell the roses at the Garnish Island Gardens.



That takes care of just the first week!  Wow! We still have four more to go!

On my next post, which will be following soon, I will share the plans we have for the next week – starting in Ballinskelligs and visiting the famous Michael Skelligs island; a Christian monastery  founded on the island at some point between the 6th and 8th century which remained continuously occupied until it was abandoned in the late 12th century. The remains of the monastery, and most of the island, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996.