Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
We're flying home to today and as Ed is still sleeping I thought I'd write a little about the over all trip.

We stayed in 11 B&B's and 1 hotel and all of them were good. One B&B had the best towels, another the best home baked goodies, a third the best sausages another the best view and largest room. Only one was a little on the small size. The bathroom was a converted closet --- just the toilet and showerr fit. The sink was in the bedroom and that room was a little on the small size as well, but the room was clean and the bed comfortble. All the B&B's had sitting rooms you could use so a small room wasn't really a problem.

Food, oh we had some wonderful food on this trip. I've already mention sausages and baked goods, Then there was the bouble and squeek, it's really a British dish and just left over potatoe, turnip, and cabbage but oh so much better than regular hash browns. Then there was a savoury pancake --- a thin pancake (but not a crepe) filled with cheese, ham, cooked onions and peppers. I'm not an egg fan but scramble eggs and smoked salmon for breakfast is really good --- think there was as much smoked salmon as therre was egg. The dinners were really good as well --- we tried most off the standard Irish meals, Guiness Stew, Irish Stew, Bangers and Mash, Pot Pie, Fish and Chips, Fish Pie. We also branched out and had Lamb shanks, lasgnage, seafood pasta, Chicken Fajita salad ---- the list goes on. There was only one meal I didn't like, the chicken in a chicken stir fry was tough and I didn't care ffor the sauce but it was edible.

Once again it's been proven that it's a small world. When we werre in Doolin at a pub eating dinner we ended up at a table beside a woman, her mother and her son that are from BC, I think Kelowna. Then in Donegal Ed and I went into a hotel bar for dinner and sat down. After a few minutes I noticed the people at the table beside us ---- yup the three people from BC. We said hello and had a chuckle. Well, last night Ed and I are walking through the streets of Dublin heading back to the bus stop and who walks up to us and says hello. Yup the three people from BC. Then there was the Germain couple. They were at our B&B in Donegal. Who pulled into the driveway right behind us when we stopped at our B&B in Dunfanaghy. Yup the couple from Germany, we had reservations and they were winging it.

Bathrooms --- oh I could go on and on about the bathrooms but there is one that deserves to be mentioned. We stopped at a park so Ed could find a geocache. When he got back to the car he told me I had to go use the bathroom. He said whoever designed the bathroom had spent too much of their childhood watching The Jetsons (I hope you remember the cartoon show with George and his son Leroy). Anyway, the building was square and metal, you pushed and button the door opened, after several seconds the door closed behind you. The room felt like it was totally stainless steel --- to wash it you could bring a hose in a spray. Everything was attivated with push buttons, you wanted toilet paper you pushed a button, you wanted water to washer hands, push a button. There even was an SOS button. Oh and to get out you pushed a button.

Some other bathroom highlights, taps that reminded me of a Kligon battleship, a mirror with a touch sensitive button in it that turned on side lights that were also in the mirror (Ed wants one of these), a rectangular toilet seat, plumbing on the outside of the wall, shut off values turned the water on and off. I've seen shared bathrooms in small establishments but at the Cliffs of Moher they took it to the next level. The washroom was a true unisex washroom --- every body went into the same bathroom and took the next available stall. just waiting in the same room.

There is a lot more interesting things we ran into on our trip but this is all I have time for right now and if you haven't quick reading already you're happy that I'm done.


2017/05/25: Dublin

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Four beers today, two Guiness, Porthouse Pilsner and Porthouse Nitro Red.

I learned a few thing today. Don't make assumptions, I assumed that the exact fair was required but didn't think that notes (paper money) would not be accepted. Also know what bus stop you want to get off at before you get on the bus, don't assume it'll be obvious. The first error in judgement neccessitated a trip back to the hotel to get a 10 euro note changed into coins. The second error in judgement caused us to walk an extra kilometer or so. Luckily a gentleman noticed that we were not sure where we were and gave us directions. Turned out we were going in the correct direction, we were just looking in the wrong part of map to determine our location.

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First destination was the Guinness Storehouse for a tour. Guess who chose this stop?

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The tour goes through the entire process of making beer. When you get to the part about the spring water from the Wicklow Mountains there is a waterfall. It makes for interesting photos.

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One stop on the tour was the tasting room. Mini beer glasses are used dooring the tasting phase of beer making. Advertising for Guinness has changed over the years. A lot of the old and new advertising was on display. Ed noticed a lot of old Guiness ads on buildings through out Ireland.

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The tour ended with a couple of glasses of Guinness (included in your tour cost) in the Gravity Bar overlooking the city. This has got to be one of the most popular tours in Dublin.

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Dublin is full of old buildings, especially churches.

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Dublin Castle.

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The old city walls.

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A couple more city shots.

2017/05/24: Starting to Wind Down

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Guiness and a glass of Chardoney were tonight's libations.

This morning we drove a few miles to Bru na Boinne. Bru na Boinne, which means the ‘palace’ or the ‘mansion’ of the Boyne, refers to the area within the bend of the River Boyne which contains one of the world’s most important prehistoric landscapes.Within Bru na Boinne are three well-known large passage tombs, Knowth, Newgrange and Dowth, built some 5,000 years ago in the Neolithic or Late Stone Age.

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In the 1960's when archeaologists started excavating the site, Newgrange was a small hill. As they dug they found stones not native to the area, then large stones and finally the opening into the tomb. It has since been "rebuilt" to match one archaeologist's view of what Newgrange would have looked liked.

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The entrance to the tomb. The outside of the tomb is ringed with carved kerb stones. Above the doorway is a port that allows the sun to enter the tomb and shine to the back of the tomb on December 21st --- winter soltice. When you enter the tomb you walk down a very narrow low passage way and after 19 metres you enter a large chamber with three recesses. Unfortunately photography was not allowed in the passage way or chamber.

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Knowth is a large mound with 2 tombs. There are also a number of smaller mounds in the same grounds.

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Knowth also has carved kerb stones.

The mounds look boring but the history behind them is very interesting.

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The mounds need maintenance, so you have to figure out how to mow them.

Next stop our hotel a few kilometres away from the Dublin airport. We checked in, dropped our bags off and drove to the car rental car return. The sun was shining and it was about 21 degrees C so we walked the 4 1/2 km back to the hotel. Now it's time for a restful evening before we head into Dublin tomorrow.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Ed tried a Boyne Ale local to Drogheda and I had a cider this evening.

This morning we drove east along the Causeway Coastal Route. First stop was at a scenic overlook with a castle.

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The bit of rock on top of the left hill is all that's left of the Dunseverick Castle.

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Another beautiful beach.

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Ballintoy harbour

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One of several loctions in Ireland where the Game of Thrones is filmed.

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The rope bridge to the island Carrick-A-Rede. We opted to skip this tourist attraction.

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Kilbane Castle isn't in great shape. It was built in 1547 by Colla MacDonnell (Ed's mom was a MacDonnell).

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That's me at the end of the pennisula. I got my adrenaline rush by walking out to the end of the pennisula along a narrow path. I was high enough that birds were flying below me.

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The harbour at Ballycastle.

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We decided to leave the coastal road and cut cross country, which included going up a hill and seeing beautiful farms.

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The Agnew clan originated in Scotland but was also found in Northern Ireland near Larne. This is the remains of the Kilwaughter Castle which was once owned by the John Agnew.

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Ed thinking about climbing Agnew Hill --- he didn't. Agnew Hill is one of the highest hills in the area at 474 metres or just over 1500 feet.

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The token sheep photo of the day.

Leaving the Larne area we travelled south. As it was rush hour in Belfast we stuck to back roads till we were past the city. It was long before we were back in the Republic of Ireland and in the town of Drogheda for the night.

2017/05/22: Switched Countries

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
This evening Ed had a Hop House 13 beer and I had a lovely cider of a different brand.

This morning we left Dunfanaghy and drove south then east and then north again to finally reach Bushmill Northern Ireland, home to the Bushmill Irish Whiskey and the Giant's Causeway.

The drive was mostly routine except for missing turns as we went through Derry. Luckily the turning circles helped out and we did some 360 degree turns to get back on the right track.

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A view of the coast in Northern Ireland.

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Some more coast.

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Arriving in the town of Bushmill we headed straight for the Bushmill Distillery. We had a lovely tour, except photography wasn't allowed. A wee dram of whiskey was included with the tour. Ed did get a few photographs of the outside of the distillery.

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Just outside of Bushmill is the Dunluce Castle. Turns out the castle was onced owned by the MacDonnells --- Ed's mother was a MacDonnell.

The Giant's Causeway is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns. There are two lines of thought on what created the causeway. The first involves a certain giant by the name of Finn McCool. Finn is having trouble with someone across the water. The Scottish giant Benandonner is threatening Ireland. An enraged Finn grabs chunks of the Antrim coast and throws them into the sea. The rock forms a path for Finn to follow and teach Benandonner a lesson. Bad idea – Benandonner is terrifyingly massive. Finn beats a hasty retreat, followed by the giant, only to be saved by our hero’s quick-thinking wife who disguised him as a baby. The angry Scot saw the baby and decided if the child was that big, the daddy must be really huge. The second explanation is the Giant’s Causeway is the aftermath of volcanic eruption and subsequent cooling.

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Looking down on the Giant's Causeway.

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The causeway from across the bay.

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Ed following the giant's path.

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The stones up close.

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The gateway.

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The cliff by the Giant's Causeway. The rock formations are very interesting --- black rock, red rock, and the columns of rock like the Giant's Causeway.

2017/05/21: County Dunegal

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
Tonight Guiness and a Bulmer's cider were the drinks of choice.

Leaving Dunegal town, we drove west to the coast and Slieve League, a mountain on the Atlantic Ocean with some of the highest sea cliffs in Ireland. Of course it was overcast and rainy but least no fog!

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Looking down at the cliffs.

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We hiked part way up the mountain for better views. See those white dots in the photo,

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they are bags of rocks. We're guessing that they are dropped by helicoptor and and used to make stepping stone paths.

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Last year this map of Ireland was finished and put on display. Each section of the map is a piece of carved rock from the county. The photo doesn't do the map justice (but it was raining when Ed took the photo).

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We drove past this pile of peat.

Some views as we drove along more of the coast line.
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This one isn't coast line --- we drove through a mountain pass and was reward with some stunning views of valleys.

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We are staying near Horn Head. From the car park we walked up a hill and decided to not go any further ---- the wind was just about blew me off the hill.

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A view east from the Horn Head area.

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The town of Dunfanaghy is very cute --- lots of pubs and restaurants. This area of the coast has lots of summer cottages.

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A few of the sheep were curious about us as we walked back to the B&B after dinner.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
And tonight's beer is Guiness and I enjoyed a glass of cider.

Today we had a fair bit of driving to do and two specific stops in mind --- Ceide Fields and Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary.

Ceide Fields is considered the world's most extensive Stone Age monument. Stone-walled fields, houses and megalithic tombs ---- about a half million tonnes of stone have been found so far, the legacy of a 5,000 year old farming community.

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The visitor centre is topped with a glass pyramid. Inside the visitor centre is the remains of a tree. It is estimated that the tree fell into a bog 4,200 to 4,400 years ago and was preserved.

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This ancient farming area is now a huge peat bog. It was first discovered in the 1930's when a farmer was digging peat and hit rocks. It wasn't till the 1970's when actual exploration of the area was done.

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Several methods of mapping out the fields have been used with the simpliest being walking around with a steel rod and pooking it into the bog to find the rocks hidden beneath. When rocks are found bamboo stakes are put in the ground.

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Ceide Fields is by the coast and offers some great views.

Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetary is one of Europes largest Stone Age cemetaries. Some 60 monuments including stone circles, passage tombs and dolmens adorn the rolling hills of this site. Bones have been found in some of the tombs dating back at much as 6,000 years.

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There are several unopened passage tombs in the area sounding Carrowmore. This one was opened many, many years ago, all the stones removed and used elsewhere. It has been rebuilt to show the public what it may have looked like. Many archeologists disagree with the look and the fact that it has been rebuilt.

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This is the only dolen and stone circle that are intact at the site. High on the hill in the background is an unopened passage tomb believed to the grave of legendary Queen Maeve.

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Wow! is all I can say about this B&B. It's called Rossmore Manor House and it's big and it's beautiful and then there's the view. Behind the car you can see a window, that's my sitting area window. Sitting on a loveseat in front of the window I can see the bay and green hills beyond that. Looking at the photo, there is a door to the right of window. That's are private entrance to the room called The Hobit. This B&B wins best view .... at least so far.

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Sunset at the B&B.

2017/05/20: Achill Island

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
And today's beers are Achill and Clew Bay Sunset.

Achill Island, off the coast of County Mayo (western Ireland) is the largest island off the coast of Ireland. It has a population of around 2,700, is 148 square kilometers and is accessible by a bridge. The island is mountains, peat bog and beautiful beaches.

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The view from our bedroom window at the B&B in Newport.

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An old abbey just outside of Newport.

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The remains of a castle, a few miles fewer down the road.

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A view from the castle window and a pretty flower.

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Achill Island has miles of rugged coastline.

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There weren't a lot of cows on the island but the number of sheep made up for it. Many of them were in fenced off areas and almost as many were in open pastures along side the road.

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We only saw a couple of sheep that horns like this guys.

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Ruins in "the Deserted Village". There are approximately 80 ruined houses in the village. The houses were built of unmortared stone, which means that no cement or mortar was used to hold the stones together. Each house consisted of just one room and this room was used as a kitchen, living room, bedroom and even a stable. This village is lot to be hundreds of years old.

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Looking out at the mountains from one of the beautiful beaches on the island.

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After driving cliff side roads you get to an amazing beach. In the 1960's basking sharks were hunted in this bay.

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We drove past vast areas where peat is being dug. Plastic bags in the fields was the easiest way to find the fields. As we also saw a lot of stacked peat, we assume that it needs to be dried before it can be packed. We stopped at a cafe for a coffee and they had peat burning in the fireplace.
Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
And tonight's beer was Smithwick Red and Francisan Wells Cheiftan IPA.

Today we are continueing to head north. There's a lot of beautiful coastline to follow and a hill to hike.

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The Sky Road is rated as a wonderful drive. The Upper Sky Road was closed as it was being worked on so we drove the Lower Sky Road.

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A mare and colt.

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Another section of coast took us to a view an island. When the tide is out you can drive to the island. They even have a horse race here.

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I just can't resist these sheep.

Connemara National Park spans 2000 dramatic hectares of bog, mountain and heath. The park encloses a number of the Twelve Bens (mountains). We opted to hike the lesser Diamond Hill (445 meters in height)--- it's a very popular hike.

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Most of the way up now, looking back at the visitor center. It's the building by itself in front of the trees.

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The trail is very wll maintained, gravel paths and stone steps. Yup, that's me climbing some of the steps. This is a brave flower blooming at the top of the hill.

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We made it! At least Ed did (I did too as I took the photo).

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Starting down the backside. On this side you see Kylemore Abbey and Pollacapall Lough (a beautiful lake).

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This is Diamond Hill --- doestn't look so high from here.

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Continueing driving along the coast we find some magfician beaches. I don't associate Ireland with white sand beaches but there are a lot of them here.

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A view up Killary Harbour.

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What appears to be a favourite fishing spot by a cute waterfall.

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The desolate Doolough Valley. A beautiful lake between green hills.

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The town of Louisburgh, it was named after Louisburgh, Nova Scotia. Now that's different.

2017/05/17: Drive to Clifden

Category: General
Posted by: The Agnew Family
And tonight's beer is Bridewell and Ocean Thieves Cider.

We spent most of the day driving, following the Wild Atlantic Way. A few drops of rain, some cloud but mostly a lot of sun today.

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We stopped in Galway for an hour to see the Spanish Arch. Lots of tourist shops and restaurants in the area.

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This restored cottage is a national historic site. It was built and used by Patrick Pearse as a summer home and Irish language school for his pupils. Patrick Patrick Pearse was one of the leaders of the 1916 Rising and was executed by the British. The 1916 Rising was the start of Ireland's fight for independence. The people at the heritage site were very informative and the cottage was in an amazing spot.

Views along the Wild Atlantic Way, which follows the western coast of the Rupublic of Irelnd.

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Roundstone is a cute harbour town.

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My guide book indicates Clifden's population to be about 2100. Clifden has a good size and colourful downtwon for a small town.