A Travellerspoint blog

August 2018

Carrick on Shannon

Researching the Banahans in Roscommon

all seasons in one day

15 August 2018

Great breakfast again at the Redbank. The traditional breakfast the day before was so big - I opted for scrambled eggs and salmon. Again delicious and a great way to start the day.

We're off to Carrick on Shannon, which is a small town on the border of Leitrim and Roscommon. My great grandfather, Thomas Banahan, is from Ballinlough, Roscommon and I hope to learn a bit more about his family and the famine era which was at the time he was born (1845).

The trip to Carrick was easy. Travel Hint: even if you carry a GPS - always have a map available. The power jack in our vehicle is not working so we've lost our GPS. My navigator, Jim Burke, is guiding me easily along the roads west with the assistance of our trust map. Also FYI - there are VERY few highways in Ireland. Most roads are two lane roads - in varying widths. Travel times are usually much longer that we would estimate in the US.

Carrick on Shannon is very much a tourist town known as a base for people renting boats by the week to travel the river and canals. There seemed to be many more Irish and European tourist, rather than those from the US.

We arrived early, parked at our guesthouse (The Townhouse) and walking into town. The location was great and just a short 10-15 minute walk towards the small downtown area. Looking for a little local culture, we stopped into Cryan's Pub for a pint and had a lovely chat with Liam (the owner) and others at this small, traditional pub. We learned that Cryan's had been there for 60 years and the pub was opened by Liam's parents. It was a great welcome to the area of my family.


Walking back to our guesthouse, we passed a few small shops along the main road - a Polish deli, a small grocer and a Lithuanian deli, which gave us just hint of local tastes and population.

Arriving back at our guesthouse, we were met by Helen, the owner, who showed us our room. The room was on the lower level looking out onto a pretty garden. We settled in for our three night stay.

It was a little early for dinner but still a little peckish, we walked to the local bakery for "afternoon tea" - a small nosh and coffee. We're getting right into the local customs.

Indian food would be our dinner later that evening and the spicy dishes were welcome on this cool and rainy night.


16 August 2018

Genealogy Research Day...

I was up and off to Strokestown mid morning. Strokestown (about a 30 minute drive) is the location of the Strokestown Museum and Irish National Famine Museum. The museum is located on the Peckenham Mahon Estate. My interest is that 2nd great grandfather died about 1847 and I wanted to educate myself in the aspects of that time.


The tour of the Peckenham Mahon house was very interesting - similar to the tour we took at the Ardgillan Castle but the Famine Museum was an education. The Famine - a tragic time in Ireland and especially in the Roscommon area is depicted here through nine different area and multimedia presentations.

Continuing with my genealogy search, I headed to Roscommon Town (an additional 30 minute ride) and to their local Library. Downtown Roscommon, is under construction and finding the library proved difficult but I did find the Town Hall and asked directions from a man working in front. He could not have been more helpful. He gave me directions (I was quite close) and also told me I could park in their parking lot. He was interested as to why I was there and we had a nice chat. As I was parking the car, I noticed the plaque below: A little serendipity!!!


I found the library at the end of the street and was welcomed by the staff. Their local history section is well stocked and although there were no big "ah ha" moments - I was able to make notes from a local census from 1749 that might be useful later.

With an hour ride back and the intention to return the next day I headed back to Carrick. The views along the way were amazing. Driving on the left with a stick shift are not difficult and the small road made it quite the enjoyable ride.

Who would think that a Thursday night would be so busy in the restaurants but it was. We had to wait at Vittos but it was worth the wait. Great food, wonderful staff and a very enjoyable evening.

But the night wasn't over, music at Cryan's started at 10pm and we stopped for a night cap and some traditional music played by locals. Yes, now it really felt like we were in Ireland.


17 August 2018

A bit of a rainy day, so really good for research. I drove back to Roscommon. Driving directly to Roscommon is shorter than going through Strokestown and again, even though it was grey - they green of the countryside was brilliant.

I always learn something new when we travel - this time it was the unique closing times that some facilities have. Arriving at the library I found that they close the whole library from 1pm to 2pm for lunch - even though there were three people working the front desk. Just doesn't seem very efficient....just sayin'.

So...did what research I could, which today was going page by page through a 1832 Tithe Allotment Book. At 1250pm we were given a ten minute warning and with a recommendation from the front desk, I briskly walked through the rain to Molloy's Bakery down the street for a cup of hot and creamy bowl of Carrot and Coriander Soup and a warming cup of coffee. As firm as the library was about closing for an hour, I asked to check out a book to read at lunch and they let me take it.

Back for a bit more research and I was headed back to Carrick. We had 730pm reservations at the Oarsman (recommended by Helen) and I was looking forward to it. I had also sent Jim on a mission while I was out. He had to find a Leprechaun for my Mom....


Jim was successful in his search and we now had not only a small gift for Mom but also a trip mascot.

Dinner at the Oarsman was wonderful. Our waiter, Michael, was great with recommendations from the menu. The restaurant itself is lovely. Walking in to the traditional pub, we were lead upstairs to a renovated space that was much more modern but the two spaces worked nicely together. The menu is not huge but nicely appointed. The Oarsman seems to be a "special occasion" place - we heard multiply renditions of "Happy Anniversary and Happy Birthday". But the couple sitting next to us made our night. The staff came out and sang Happy Anniversary. She seemed very surprised and they seem to have a good laugh. When they were leaving, I wished them Happy Anniversary - the leaned into us and said - with big smiles...."This is our first date!!" Good on ya mate, I think they're probably on their way to a 2nd!!


To anyone who thinks that you can't get wonderful food in Ireland.....NOT TRUE!!!! It's just the start of this trip and the food has been stellar!!!

Leaving Carrick in the morning and on to new adventures.


Posted by pjburke 00:18 Archived in Ireland Comments (1)

Ireland...it always feels like home!!

Crowley Family Reunion but first - some genealogy research!!

all seasons in one day

12 - 13 August 2018

This trip has been a long time in the planning stages and truthfully for us it almost didn't happen. There are times when life gets in the way and this year my Mom's health has been up and down. Most recently down - like the way of pneumonia and a pulmonary embolism.

I hesitate to talk about Mom's health on the blog but "it's life" and as all our lives go - sometimes it sucks. Fortunately, for us, Mom has a great team of health care workers and once again Mom has rallied. Up until the day we left, I was ready to cancel if we needed to ..but we didn't. We visited Mom on the way to the airport and she had turned a corner for the good. Yes, she's always on my mind but with technology today we can talk and even video chat...so we're off on another adventure. Where are we going ???? Oh - you'll just have to wait and see. :-)

But ..to start, as you can tell from the heading ..it's Ireland. It's Tucson to Dublin via Chicago where we had a bit of mechanical delay. With a good tailwind we arrived about 45 minutes late, grabbed bags, grabbed our rental car and it was north to Skerries, cute little town about thirty minutes north of Dublin. We've stayed in Dublin before and decided to try something a little different. Plus, Dublin can be expensive and with Skerries a little less pricey we figured it would be a good place to get over jet lag.

Our home for our two nights in Skerries is the Redbank Restaurant and Guesthouse. A homey 18 guesthouse in the center of town that yes, it is an old bank. The Redbank is comfortable in the way you would imagine an Irish grandmother's house would be. Though incredible clean, it's not spiffy and shiney...but it doesn't have to be. Another reason we chose the Redbank was the location. We could park the car and walk, to the pubs, to the beach, to the wharf, to the restaurants - all the above. One thing I do need to mention is the parking. Being in town- the guesthouse doesn't have parking. There was plenty of parking on the street but you did have to pay for it - as it is anywhere in Skerries and from what we would later learn - in most of the "tourist" towns. 1 euro per hour from 8am-6pm...but if you pay more than you need for one day, the machine will add it to the next day...so...it worked that we didn't have to get up early to get $$ in the machine at 0800. Oh....and you need coins, you can pay with an app on your phone but the machine doesn't take credit cards.


Arriving, Ross showed us our room which was nice sized and on the 1st floor (good for us) and let us know what time breakfast would be the next day. He also let us know where we could grab a pint and something to eat. We opted for Stoop Your Head - a nice little place right on the wharf.
A cold, smooth Guiness and some Irish Smoked Salmon and all was right with the world. Our late lunch turned into dinner, hotel for a nap. If we didn't get a quick nap we were going to be asleep at 6pm and then up again at 0300...so...set the alarm - took a quick nap and we walked around the corner for a night cap at "The Snug" - very nice little pub. Comfortable, with an old crowd, we chatted with the bartender a bit. Now it was a normal time to get some sleep - hopefully we've made a start at resetting that internal clock.


14 August 2018

Actually slept (pretty much) until 0800. Up and off to the dining room for breakfast - traditional Irish of course - at least for our 1st day: fried egg, bacon (which we would call ham), a sausage, black and white pudding (which were really very good - and no, it's not pudding), grilled tomato, toast, brown bread, coffee, juice - well...we won't be hungry for while. No way I could eat all that - Jim helped.

Truthfully, Skerries is a beach town with not a whole lot to do - but there is an old Mill site that dates back to the Viking times so we decide to walk (about mile) there and do the tour. Surprisingly, we quite enjoyed it. There was us and a couple from Poland and our guide Thomas. Guiding us through the most current mill, Thomas explained the process. There have been mills on this spot since the 12th century. From the main building we walked out toward the oldest mill (built in the 1600's) where we climbed the narrow steps to the second level. On through the fields to the five sail "Great Windmill", we hear more of the local history of the Skerries Mills - we had plenty of questions and our tour lasted about an hour.


From the mill area, we walked back towards town and into Holmpatrick Cemetery which surrounds the remains of an old church dedicated to St. Patrick. Jim scoped out a post office (his unofficial travel job is to send my Mom post cards). Short break and then spent the afternoon at Ardgillan Castle (about 3 miles outside town). If it was nicer weather, there is kayaking, paddleboarding etc but it was a bit chilly so we opted for a walk along the strand (beach) to "The Head" The sun came in and out and there were plenty of people enjoying the seaside views.


The sun doesn't set until about 9pm but we were hungry so it was back to Stoop Your Head. Yes, there are other places to eat, but Jim saw mussels on their dinner menu the day before and we couldn't find them at another restaurant so back we went - and we weren't disappointed. I wasn't as hungry so I opted for the appetizer sized seafood chowder. Remember, if you're not familiar with portion sizes ...ask. Our waitress, Ellen, was very helpful. The chowder was full of fish and crab and I could barely finish the starter (appetizer) size - the dinner size would have been wasted.

With a little jet lag setting in and the sun starting to set - it was back to the Redbank, repack and get ready to head off tomorrow.

Our next stop - Carrick on Shannon!!

Posted by pjburke 01:30 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)


Australian Hospitality


26 May 2018

After our first day in SYD - we slept "pretty" well. Our apartment backed to an alley way and although the closest bar was around the corner - it must have been a cut through for a few "overserved" blokes.

Jim graciously adventured out early for breakfast takeaway - breakfast pies (savory egg and sausage) and flat white. What could be better.

We wandered the eclectic neighborhood a bit before heading to the waterfront for our trip to Manley.

(You might be asking yourself -"Why are they going to Manley?.... Well...back up about 10 days.

On our sailing trip in the Whitsundays , we met a great couple (Jacinta and Mike) from Sydney. As we were getting ready to say our goodbyes that evening, they asked if we'd like to have dinner at Mike's parent's house (in Manly) when we were in town. Of course, my "Yank" reaction was, "of course, but don't you think you should ask them first?"...their response..."oh no..it will be fine!! But they are on a cruise right now, so we'll check with them when they get back." Have I told you... I love Australians!!!

A few days later, Jacinta got in touch and the invitation confirmed for today. Our plan: take the ferry to Manley a little early and Jim and I would check out "Taste of Manley" (which is a yearly Wine and Food Fest along the Manly beach front) and then we'd meet up with Mike and Jacinta there.

We decided to take the metro (which was just around the corner from our apartment) to Circular Quay to catch the ferry to Manley. As we got on the metro, we noticed a police officer dressed in, what I'd call. SWAT gear. I looked around - feeling a bit uncomfortable. Being that it was VIVID and since I had not been watching the TV - I hadn't heard of any threats. Hmmm.. We went to get off the metro and a woman and a man were also getting off at the same time. They were dressed very nicely (me thinking - oh, maybe they are going to a wedding)- we smiled at each other and we exited..but then I noticed following them were three really large men in suits with ear pieces. Thought to self... "Well...this person must be really important".

When we transferred to our next train - I google Australian Prime Minister - I'm embarrassed to say that I had no idea who the PM of Australia was or what he looked like....even though I was standing right next to him. (Our little brush with "celebrity" while in AU)

On to Manley....the ferry ride was beautiful, chatted with a nice Mom and her precious daughter, passed a sailboat race and viewed Sydney from a different angle. We arrived into their ferry terminal and walked the few blocks to the beach and the festival. Wine and food booths lined the promenade. Buying a glass for $5 entitled you to refill at any booth for an additional $5. The lines were a bit long but really moved quite quickly. Sunny but a bit cool, it was a lovely day to hang out on the waterfront, enjoy the wine and music.


Mike and Jacinta joined us shortly after we arrived. Mike grew up in Manly and he reminisced as we walked through the town towards his car. We toured a little of the small town and then headed to meet his parents, John and Sue O'Brien.

What a lovely evening....we enjoyed our feast while sitting outside - sharing stories and wine. Being about the same age, John and Sue shared our love of travel, photography and good food - we had a lot in common. John is retired Navy photographer and shared some of photos with us.
I could not have planned a more perfect way to wrap up our trip to OZ....


The evening ended way too soon but there was a ferry to catch...and more VIVID as we approached the city.

27 May 2018

More pies for breakfast and it was on to our scheduled Sydney Opera House tour. What a fantastic structure. The tour talks in depth about the history of the building, which is much older than I realized. The project actually started in 1956. My only regret is that we didn't have a chance to see a show there - next time.


IT was time for lunch and Jacinta and Mike at recommended the Glenmore Inn for brunch. Built in the 1920's and located up a rock stairway in the "Rocks" area, it has an awesome view of the harbor from it's rooftop deck. As expected, it was crowded, but we we able to get seats, enjoy the sun and a really good brunch.


What to do for our final afternoon???? There are a ton of ferries leaving from the Sydney Harbor - we decided to see when the next one would leave and just take it....hence, our "Ferry to no where" cruise. We got off near the Maritime Museum, walked the back along the Barangaroo area before making our way back to our apartment. Sadly, it was time to pack and get ready for our early morning flight home.


But...not before a dinner which again we chose - DUMPLINGS!! I know, it seems a bit redundant but I haven't found a place to get xiao long boa in Tucson, so I grab it where every I can.


We ended up at Dumplings and Beers. Down a neighborhood side street, it was another "very narrow" cafe, Good food and a fun vibe.

12 August 2018

Fast forward three months, life has been crazy and we're heading out today for another trip. It's taken me a while to finish up Australia - I think it was because it was hard to say "Good-bye" to such a wonderful trip....

Now ...heading east instead of west....next posting ........ Ireland

Posted by pjburke 07:41 Archived in Australia Comments (1)


Last but definitely not least

sunny 65 °F

25 May 2018

Off to Sydney

Our last morning in Cairns and the skies were sprinkled with the possibility of sunshine that had been eluding us. We dropped the campervan at Apollo which is just around the corner from the airport. A quick taxi ride and the last leg of our six week adventure was about to begin. We're off to Sydney.

Deciding to leave Sydney to the end of our trip was calculated. We knew we wouldn't need (or want) a car in the city and our final flight, whether a stopover or just a connection, would be Sydney. Having flown through Sydney from Indonesia and seeing the Opera house from the air - we were excited to see what this - Australia's largest city - had to offer.

Easy flight and an easy but pricey ($50) taxi ride into the city brought us to the Potts Point area and our Airbnb apartment. We waited just a short time to meet our host and found the neighborhood comfortable - more working people rather than touristy.

Doris met us and showed us up to the third floor apartment (yes, there was an elevator). Very cute, very clean and a great location - what more could we ask for.

Earlier in our trip we learned that Sydney's Vivid Light Celebration was starting that evening and we were excited to see what it was all about.

It was time to explore Sydney. We walked through the tree lined streets of Potts Point - narrow sidewalks passed by older, interesting buildings. We had a map but we weren't "really" sure where we'd end up. Doris had given us general directions and we knew were were looking for a stairway down to the waterfront area...we found it. Jim made me promise that he didn't have to walk back up this steep stairway.

We came out at what appears to be the entrance to a navy area...as we rounded the corner we found that it wasn't "a" navy base - it was "THE NAVY" base Garden Island Navy Base to be exact. Huge ships docked right there. We would have never been able to get this close in San Diego


Just past the Navy Base and en route to the Botanical Garden (where we believed that we would find VIVID), we wandered into an area called Wooloomooloo. A working class neighborhood from the 1850's, this former docklands area is now the upscale waterfront home to a marina, restaurants, apartments and yes, a few pubs. Hmmm - since VIVID wouldn't start until about 6pm - maybe - just maybe we had time for a pint.

Off to find VIVID!! We walked to the back entrance to the Royal Botanical Garden - a short walk ...up hill. The sun had set and it was a bit dark and the further we walked we noticed the park was starting to fill with people - but not as many as I had expected. We were soon to find out why. Apparently, you're supposed to start the walk through the lights at the harbor - we were starting at the end and walking against traffic. It really didn't get too crowded until we got to the Opera House area....

If you get the chance to be in Sydney during VIVID (this year 25 May- 06 Jun) ....GO. It was VERY cool...as you'll see below.


After battling the now growing crowds of the harbour area, we decided that we had back towards our apartment and find a place for some dinner. Leaving our apartment, we'd walked past a small dumpling shop, and since it's really hard for me to resist dumplings, we decided to give it a try. Sydney (and Australia in general) has a huge Asian population. Given it's proximity this wasn't a surprise - we were just happy to find Dumplings and Noodles.

When I said small...it was reallllly small. We arrived to full table on the sidewalk in front. Lucky to secure a small table in the back of this shop that would probably seat, maybe 16 people (max). We settled in. Checking out the menu, and the food coming out of the kitchen, we decided on a dumpling feast - fried dumplings and xiao long boa. Xiao long boa (aka Shanghia soup dumplings) are my absolute favorites - and these were a special treat.


Posted by pjburke 06:13 Archived in Australia Tagged sydney point vivid potts Comments (0)

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