A Travellerspoint blog

Ireland

Coming Home.....2018 Crowley Family Reunion

...with a little Cork on the side

all seasons in one day

Fast Forward....four weeks....again, travel has kept us really busy and I'm playing catching up. In the interest of not boring you all to tears...this post will be mostly images of the wonderful time we had in Ireland. I think a bit of it can be summed up with the words I'd hear from Adele as we gathered at the end of the day in our Barrow Lark Cottage..in her best American accent .."Honey, I'm home!!!"

18-25 August 2018

Ireland is like coming home for me and this occasion is very special indeed. The main reason to come to Ireland this year is for our 3rd Crowley Family Reunion. The first reunion was in 1988, again in 1999 and now 2018. So, about every ten years we try and get together. There have been other trips over the pond (both ways) over the years. But meeting here, in the area that connects us, is always very heartwarming. This year we've got about 35 from the US (a first trip for many), a few that still live in Ireland and about 20 from England...many I haven't seen since the first reunion.

Our common ancestor is Thomas Crowley (18??- 1952). My grandfather, John Crowley, was his son from his first marriage. His wife Sarah Leary/O'Leary died in 1914. Many of our family is connected through Thomas's 2nd marriage to Hannah Roche....but a Crowley is a Crowley.

Our morning started with a four hour drive south from Carrick on a grey and windy day. A few showers on the way down didn't dampen our spirits.

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We rented a house in West Barrow, very close to the Tralee Golf Club. This week will be all about family and family will be enjoying this house: along with Jim and myself will be my sister Peg, our cousin Adele Crowley McCarthy and her sons Liam and Sean. It had been to long since I'd spent time with Adele and was looking forward to catching up.

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The week was filled with reunited family and also family that had never met before - our American, English and Irish coming together.

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Big thanks to Sam Crowley for putting the plan in motion and the rest of our wonderful family for pulling together to make the week magical.

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25-26 August 2018

Saying good-bye to family was hard but fortunately we were spending a few extra days in Ireland saying "Hello again" to Irish friends we met in Vietnam about nine years ago. Jeanne and Peadar....thank you so much for inviting us to spend time in Cork and visiting with you and meeting your wonderful friends.

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27 August 2018

We're off again......to Scotland....or as Carolyn and I came to refer to the trip as "Our search for Jamie Fraser"!!!!

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Posted by pjburke 04:17 Archived in Ireland Tagged #kerryireland #familyreunion #crowleyreunion #fenitireland Comments (2)

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.

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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.

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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.

http://www.strokestownpark.ie/about/

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!!!

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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.

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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....

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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!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

Heading South

Roscommon, Galway, Kerry and Tipperarry

all seasons in one day

This next week will be a little of this and a little of that. Come along on the ride

24-25 October 2015

Roscommon

Our first stop will be - Castlerea Roscommon. This was a genealogy stop for me. I was hoping to find something about the "Banahan" side of my family. We believe that my great grandfather, Thomas Banahan was born about 1845 in or around the town of Ballinlough. There are a number of Banahans in Roscommon but it is not a common name in that area. hmmmmm!!!

Entering Roscommon

Entering Roscommon

Roscommon Countryside

Roscommon Countryside

Roscommon Castle

Roscommon Castle

Our stay in Castlerea was at Fallon's Bed and Breakfast. Tom and Helen Fallon were lovely hosts and their home is very comfortable and of course, with a great breakfast.

One of things I didn't realize was that our second day there (a Monday) would be a bank holiday. So, no library or official offices would be open. I did inquire as to what was the reason of the bank holiday - no one seems to know.

I made it known to just about anyone I talked to that I was on a genealogy hunt. Our waitress at Hester's Golden Eagle Restaurant told me about a man who lived just across the street. She said that if there was any anyone who could help me, Anthony Touey was the man.

Mr Touey wasn't at home when we stopped but I was encouraged to come back, which I did. Anthony and all his 84 years of knowledge was not familiar with any Banahans but we chatted for a while and he took my address just in case he hears anything.

That experience was to recur a couple of times. People were more than willing to help although ultimately I only found out that, due to the lack of records in the middle 1800, there just might not be any records. But.....my hunt continues!!!!!

Granlahan Cemetery

Granlahan Cemetery

Granlahan Cemetery

Granlahan Cemetery

26 October 2015

Galway

We are heading farther south on the west coast of the island. When we were traveling in Donegal we found a "Scenic Route" called The Wild Atlantic Way. It definitely took us down some narrow, winding roads and lead us to some beautiful views. The marked route starts in the Derry area and continues all the way south to Cork.

Rain followed us into Galway. Arriving at our B and B in Galway The Four Seasons, we were met by Eddie Fitzgerald. With map in hand and umbrellas we headed down the road into the downtown area. We'd been in the area of Galway before but never right in town. Our one night there would send us on an unsuccessful hunt for music but were very successful at finding some great seafood.

27 and 28 October 2015

Fenit

Before heading out, another great breakfast - freshly squeezed OJ, warm, homemade scones (thanks to Eddie's wife Helen) with freshly whipped cream, fresh fruit salad and eggs with smoked salmon. What's not to like!!!

We took the long way around leaving Galway early and taking in the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher along the way

County Clare Coast

County Clare Coast

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren

The Burren

From the Galway area, we headed to the Tralee/Fenit area. These names will be very familiar to my family. My grandfather John Crowley was born there in 1902. The last time I was there was for our 2nd Crowley family reunion in 1999 (the first being in 1986 - I think). Our plan was to stay at the West End Bar/Guesthouse (which is owned by a cousin) but it was closed for renovation and also wouldn't be open for dinner the nights we were going to be in town. This is the time of year that many places close down and do what they have to do before the holidays. I was referred by Susan O'Keefe (wife of the West End's owner) to Caroline Morgan at the Killarney House on the Fenit Rd. I gave a call, with my reference in hand and was told there was availability. Thankfully!!!

Killarney House - Tralee

Killarney House - Tralee

Our time in Fenit was short. I wandered the cemetery in Churchill for familiar names, got lost in the Tralee traffic (a nightmare) and had dinner with my cousin, Tommy Crowley, on our last night there.

Church of the Purifications

Church of the Purifications

(Note: not much open - actually not much available in the Fenit area as far as food any time. We had dinner both nights at the The Tankard Bar. Our previous family reunion luncheon were held at the Tankard. It made me smile that Mary O'Sullivan (the owner) remembered an event that occurred so long ago. The food was very nice and after our dinner that first night - we were met with a warm welcome when we returned.

It was very different being in this area without all my crazy family and yes, I missed them. But it was also nice to be able to wander this time of year, without crowds in the place where my grandfather grew up.

LIttle Samphire Lighthouse

LIttle Samphire Lighthouse

Fenit Beach

Fenit Beach

Little Samphire Lighthouse

Little Samphire Lighthouse

Also sending a big "thank you" to Caroline. I didn't find out until we were leaving that she wasn't actually open this time of year but opened for us. Also, her breakfasts were great and she worked around Jim's food restrictions (and Jim's sense of humor )with ease.

29 and 30 October 2015

Dingle

Our original plan was to continue south to Kinsale for a few days after Fenit but unfortunately we had a hard time finding a room (that was reasonably priced) so it was off to Dingle.

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Connor Pass

Ancient ruins from the Connor Pass

Ancient ruins from the Connor Pass

We'd been to Dingle before but only on a day trip. We had heard that there was some good seafood to be had and music to be heard. The Bamburys Guest House had rooms available.

The drive from Fenit to Dingle was delightful. The sun was out though the breeze was blowing at the top of the Connor Pass. Those that have been to Ireland are probably familiar with the Ring of Kerry - which is a beautiful drive around the penninsula south of Dingle. If you were lucky you may have also taken a drive in the DIngle area. West from Dingle is the Slea (pronounced slay) Head Drive. With the weather being nice (and in Ireland you're not guaranteed nice weather from one hour to the next) and in search of lunch we headed west on the Wild Atantic Way. At the information center we had been told about a small place along the way for lunch. The sun followed us on our drive though the luck of the Irish left us on our search for Tig T.P's - we found it ..but it wasn't open. No worries - it was still a great drive that took us off the beaten trail. It also took us away from most of what little traffic there was. Once we passed the actual Slea Head area we think most of the traffic turned back to Dingle, where we kept going.

Slea Head Drive

Slea Head Drive

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Dingle Peninsula

Jim standing on the busy roadway

Jim standing on the busy roadway

Dingle Countryside

Dingle Countryside

A road to nowhere

A road to nowhere

Far end of the Slea Head Drive

Far end of the Slea Head Drive


We checked in to our guesthouse and under the recommendation of the smiling owner Bernie, we headed to the Grey Street Bistro. She told us it was a new place and had good food and she was spot on.

That evening we did something we don't usually do - go out late. It seems that we're so busy during the day that come evening - we're pretty tired. But we had been told there was music to be heard and out we headed about 730pm (which "I know" is not really late). We ended up at John Benny Moriarity's. Beers, fresh Glenbeigh Oysters and Mussels were a welcome treat. But, alas, no music there that night. We were told we could probably find some around town but these two old people decided to walk back to the guesthouse and try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow came and so did the rain and wind. After having been woken up in the middle of the night - it was not unexpected. It rained through out the day. Jim (still not feeling great and not wanting to feel worse) hung in our comfy, warm and dry room and I headed out to wander the streets.
But, having done his due diligence earlier in the trip Jim had found and made reservations at a small cafe called "Out of the Blue" - a seafood place with incredible recommendations. From the outside it looks like a small shack - don't let that fool you. Behind the front counter is a warm and welcoming dining room. Their motto is "if there is no fresh fish - the restaurant will not open". Not a meat eaters place by any far stretch of the imagination. - it was all fish and seafood - some I had never heard of. On my never ending search for the best seafood chowder - I started with that and went on to the grilled squid. Jim (being the oyster fan that he is went for a dozen Glenbeigh oysters and then on to the Black Sole in a brown butter - lovely!!! Another belated birthday dinner for him - not that we really needed a reason. If you're heading to Dingle - Out of the Blue is a must.

I was determined to find some music before we left and we did - we headed to O'Sullivan's Courthouse Pub. At 340 years old, this little pub with it's low ceilings and warm atmosphere was somewhat busy when we got there. We grabbed seats (well actually a large window sill) and waited with pint in hand for the music. We spent the rest of the evening chatting with a couple from Waterford and tapping our feet to some traditional music. As we left there was a line eying us, anxious to get our newly departed seats.

31 October 2015

Cashel

North side of Dingle Peninsula

North side of Dingle Peninsula

Two more travels days in Ireland. We made the three hour drive to Cashel in bright sunlight. Weatherwise, each day in Ireland is an adventure. Cashel is a small town in the middle of Ireland with a long history and the ruins of an ancient cathedreal on the Rock - hence - the Rock of Cashel.

We checked in at our B and B (Joy Rockside House) and it indeed "rockside" - just one building away from the walkway up to the ruins. Since we arrived so late, we decided to grab a late lunch and then watch the Rugby World Cup Final and take in the ruins before we leave on the 1st.

Lunch was really nice - Cafe Hans and then to Feehans for rugby....Yeah All Blacks!!!

01 November 2015

Dublin

Before heading to our very last stop - Dublin. We walked the steep roadway up to the ruins at the Rock of Cashel and took the 1030am tour. The price to enter the ruins is 8 Euro each. This area is an Irish Heritage site and run by the OPW ( Office of Public Works) and until April 2016 if you spend 15 euro at a business in town you will receive free tickets. These tickets are available to individuals or families - not tour groups).

So with the tickets we got from Cafe Hans, we enjoyed a great hour tour from Mary Walsh. The Rock has a lengthy history dating back to the 5th century which extends through Kings, priests, archbishops, Catholics, Protestants and the occasional saint - namely St Patrick.

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Sarcophagus

Sarcophagus

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Rock of Cashel

Hore Abbey

Hore Abbey

But there was only so much to see in Cashel and we decided to head towards Dublin and our hotel - the Crowne Plaza. We usually try to find something to do to extend our trip but there comes a point when we have to say...it's time to go.

So as I attempt to finish writing this blog - we're at the CP (which is really quite nice). We've got our boarding passes (at least I do - Jim has to get his at the airport in the am). We've repacked our bags and set a wake up time for 0540 since we have an early flight tomorrow.

I want to take this time to THANK YOU you all so much for following along on this trip. Each time I signed in and received your encouraging words - it was like tucking each of you in to my pocket and having you with us on this journey.

Posted by pjburke 11:53 Archived in Ireland Comments (6)

Northern Ireland

Belfast

all seasons in one day 49 °F

21 - 23 October 2015

Jim was finally feeling a bit better so we headed east towards Belfast. Our plan was for a birthday dinner for Jim, take in the Titanic Museum and see a bit of Belfast.

Belfast is about a two hour ride from Raphoe. On the way over we had a small issue with the car. Not something that needed immediate attention but when little lights go on, you're never really quite sure if it's "major" or not. We arrived in Belfast, had a nice lunch at The Crown Pub and checked in at our B and B - Ravenhill House Bed and Breakfast.

Before anything else we did want to make sure all was ok with the car. After a few emails and a call with Brian in Dublin - the car issue sorted itself out. :-)

Ravenhill House Bed and Breakfast

Ravenhill House Bed and Breakfast

View from our window Ravenhill House B/B

View from our window Ravenhill House B/B


We chatted with Roger, our B and B host and headed out for a stroll in the neighborhood.

Dinner that night was at The Shed Bistro. Jim found it on Trip Advisor and it got great reviews. And for good reason!! It is a small local cafe but the food and service was really nice. A good meal always makes Jim feel a little better.

The next day it was up for breakfast. One of the great things about staying at a B/B is the breakfasts. It's a great way to start the day and also being a slow time of year, to chat with the hosts. Roger was a wealth of information and a great cook. We headed off for a day of touring with full bellys.

Traffic in Belfast is not fun. Actually we've found the same in many of the Irish cities. The streets haven't changed in many years but the amount of vehicles has. Fortunately, there is a bus that picks up about a five minute walk from the B/B. It took us to within a block of the beginning of the Titanic Trail (which lead us to the museum doorstep) - about a 30 minute walk. Again we had made our reservations on line. In the lobby there is kiosk where you input either your reservation number or the credit card you used and retrieve your tickets and then to the info desk to pic up the audio guide. NOTE: Thursdays in the fall are Senior day (65+)- 10 euro instead of 14 euro (for Jim, of course).

Titanic Trail Belfast

Titanic Trail Belfast

Belfast

Belfast

The museum was fantastic. The major portion of the Titanic was built right outside the museum location. Titanic was then sailed to Southampton, UK for final fittings and ultimately from there her maiden (and only) voyage. The museum winds from floor to floor on six different levels. Three and a half hours from start to finish. Very enjoyable.

Titanic Museum

Titanic Museum

Breakfast was starting to wear off and we were sure we could find a pub for some lunch and a pint. Mc Hugh's fit the bill.

From there, with Rogers recommendation, we decided to do a Black Cab Wall Mural Tour, which explains about the recent history of the Belfast conflict. He had given us a card from a company that he used but we had a problem with the phone. Still determined to do the tour we walked up to the Visitor's Center and they got us a cab from another tour company straight away. Jackie Johnson ended up being our tour guide...and lucky we were (for many reasons). Jackie sat with us a bit and we chatted about the recent history between the Catholic and the Protestant communities. His tour was a representation of both sides with the theme of hope. It was really a great tour. Actually being there and seeing the areas that we'd only viewed on the news showed us that although healing, Belfast is still a city in transition and all is not forgiven or forgotten.

Views of some in Belfast

Views of some in Belfast

Bobby Sands Tribute in Falls Road area Belfast

Bobby Sands Tribute in Falls Road area Belfast

Peace Wall

Peace Wall

Remember, Respect, Resolution

Remember, Respect, Resolution

One funny thing happened though. When Jackie asked us where we were staying, we told him. He was very surprised and asked us if Roger (??he knew Roger??) had recommended another company. We said yes, but we had a problem with the phone number- well, it was his company and his partner was supposed to be manning the phones. He immediately gave him a call and got him to get the problem fixed. We laughed and said we thought it was meant to be that Jackie would be our tour guide. If you head to Belfast, we definitely recommend the Irish Cab Tours and ask for Jackie.

Making it back to the B/B just about dinner time and we headed to Errigle Inn for a light dinner. That and a comfy bed made for good night sleep.

It's Friday, it's raining and it's a drive back to Raphoe. We got in mid afternoon - it rained and rained and rained that whole day.

The remainder of our time in Ireland will be down south - doing a little genealogy and enjoying another part of Ireland, so....laundry time and time to get the house ready for the King's when they return. One of the expectations of a home exchange is that you will leave the house as you found it and we came into a pristine home. Fortunately, we're not messy people, so it was just a matter of washing sheets and towels and making sure the kitchen and bathrooms were in good shape. Dinner at home and we'll be off early in the am....

Posted by pjburke 08:03 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

...and More Ireland

Derry and Malin Head

overcast

15 - 20 October 2015

One of the nice things about a home exchange is that you can take day trips and then head back, know where you'll be sleeping and also make a meal and relax. Some people have told us that they look at a 25 miles radius and see what there is to see in that area and then move on. Which is exactly what we did our second week in Donegal - we actually expanded it to about 50 miles but same idea.

On Thursday , it was a bit grey but a good day for a walk, plus Jim had the beginnings of a cold. We're hoping with some meds he'll start to feel better.

Off to Derry for a stroll. We found the visitors center easily and was given some great information by the young man working behind the desk.

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

Peace Bridge

On Friday, with JIm not feeling any worse but also no better, we headed out to Malin Head. This is the northernmost point of Ireland. Along the way we stopped at the Donegal Famine Museum. Beautiful countryside views.

Donegal Countryside

Donegal Countryside

Countryside Cottage

Countryside Cottage

Malin Head LIghthouse

Malin Head LIghthouse

Carrickabraghy Castle

Carrickabraghy Castle

The Finger of God

The Finger of God

Still not feeling great on Saturday or Sunday - I worked on the blog and we watched the New Zealand - France Rugby World Cup Semi Final and then Australia vs Argentina....... Go All Blacks!!

Our plan was to go to Belfast for two nights and celebrate Jim's birthday but with JIm still not feeling great we stayed around Raphoe.

The 20th - Happy Birthday Jim....Feel better soon...

Derry and the Donegal Countryside Photos

Posted by pjburke 05:19 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

More Ireland

Donegal and Northern Ireland

sunny 48 °F

13 October 2015

I'm not sure if I explained this earlier but one of the reasons we ended up in Ireland was that we're doing a house exchange. A couple from a small town in County Donegal (Raphoe) is exchanging with us. They're in Saddlebrooke (as this is being written) and after our stay in Dublin, we headed north. It was about a two and a half hour drive. The skies were a little grey as we started but brightened as we drove north.

Oh....I forgot - before leaving Dublin. I got to do a little genealogy research. At the General Register Office in Dublin (which happened to be less than a five minute walk from where we were staying), I was able to get copies of my grandfathers' (John Crowley) birth certificate, the birth, marriage and death certificate of his father (Thomas Crowley), the birth certificate for my great grandmother Sarah Leary and marriage certificate for my 2nd great grandparents (Cornelius Crowley and Mary McCarthy) and Mary's death certificate.

For anyone doing research in Dublin, this is a great resource but be aware, there is a charge. Much of the basic information (i.e. name, year, volume, page) is available on line. If you have this information - the charge for each photocopy is 4 Euro. If you need to look information up, they have indexes (1845 for Non-Catholic marriages and 1864 for other records) but the charge to use the book is 2 Euro (which covers up to five consecutive years) or if you have a lot to look up it's 20 Euro for the whole day and you can check as many books as you need to. So - do your homework. There is a maximum of eight (8) photocopies per person per day. Any further can be emailed or posted. I don't mind paying for copies but I did think it's a little excessive when you're charged for using the books to look up information yourself.

Back to Raphoe. Having seen a photo of Jim and Fionnuala's home, as soon as we turned on to the main street in Raphoe...there it was. Through the gate and parking in the rear - this would be our home for the next 10-14 days.

When we tell people that we're doing a house exchange, some people are very interested. Some ask for the website and seem keen on the adventure while others, not so much. Some are apprehensive about having people staying in their homes when they are not there. But we know that the expectation is that we will take care of and respect each other's homes. It really is a great experience.

Jim and Fionnuala's home is beautiful...and huge - four bedrooms, three and a half bath, huge modern kitchen, living room, sitting room, sunroom...and more. I do wish we could have seen their garden in the spring or summer - it's lovely now but I have a feeling it is spectacular in season.

We got settled, got some groceries and relax in our new "home".

Irish and English

Irish and English

A little about Raphoe

A little about Raphoe

14 October 2015

It's been a very busy six weeks - today is a rest and relaxation day. A day to catch up on email, try to SKYPE Mom and just put our feet up but also discuss and make a plan for the remainder of our time in Ireland. BUT.....

I guess we just can't sit still. That afternoon, we did decide to check out a site that was right there just outside Raphoe - the Beltany Stone Circle. This stone circle is reputed to be older than Stonehenge and the access is quite a bit different.

( I'll preface this by saying that I'm a huge "Outlander" fan. I blame my sister Peg - she recommended that I read the books and I'm currently on the 8th book.) Anyways - if you're not familiar with the books, this site probably won't interest you at all but it was to me. And since, we missed seeing Jamie and Claire who were filming in Prague when we were there. I really wanted to check these out. I promised Jim I wouldn't fall through and end up in 1743.

Follow the signs

Follow the signs

We followed the signs out of Raphoe, down a less than two lane road to a small parking area (really just an area off to the side). There was a sign pointing up a walking path, so up we go. It was a steady uphill climb along a path that was bordered by meadows and sheep on both sides. The path ended at a gate to a meadow and in the distance we could see the stones. It was a nice day, cool but sunny and we were the only ones there, except for maybe 100 sheep. As you can expect with over 100 sheep, walking to the stones was a bit of a minefield which unfortunately we didn't/couldn't avoid but it was worth it. Check out the pics!!!

The path to Beltany Stones

The path to Beltany Stones

Our first look at the stones

Our first look at the stones

Beltany stones with resident sheep

Beltany stones with resident sheep


Stones

Stones

Beltany Stone Circle

Beltany Stone Circle

I don't think Jim is taking this seriously

I don't think Jim is taking this seriously

Giving it my best anguished Clairelook

Giving it my best anguished Clairelook

15 October 2015

Day trip - Raphoe is only about six miles to the border with Northern Ireland and the Giant's Causeway in Antrim has been on Jim's "to do" list - so we're off.

With Garmin in Jim's hands we're on our way. (With regards to driving - since our exchange hosts car insurance made them pay for each person who would be using their vehicle (our's did not) - Jim and I decided that I would be the DD. Fun, fun, fun!!!)

Our Garmin really likes to take us on the "road less traveled". At one point, I saw a beautiful beach and turned in...on the cliff overlooking it was a small building - not familiar to me but as I was to later find out - again - anyone familiar with Game of Thrones (cliffs overlooking Dragonstone)- you will recognise it. There was also a derelict (abandoned) castle on the property - Downhill Castle. Again, very few people. One of the advantages of traveling off season.

Information on the Castle

Information on the Castle

Downhill Castle

Downhill Castle

Downhill Castle

Downhill Castle

GOT location shot

GOT location shot

Northern Ireland Coast

Northern Ireland Coast

After stopping for lunch in Portrush, we made it to Giant's Causeway. As tourists go, it was really pretty quiet and the sun was still out. Again, the pictures really tell the story.

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Steps at the Causeway

Steps at the Causeway

Beautiful views

Beautiful views

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

For Ireland I'll be batching photos on Shutterfly - Enjoy!!

Posted by pjburke 10:19 Archived in Ireland Comments (3)

Ireland

Dublin...the start of our tour!!

semi-overcast 50 °F

11 Oct 2015

Our trip from Amsterdam to Dublin was effortless. Bags arrived quickly and we were through Passport Control - no problem. Brian, our house exchange hosts son lives in Dublin and he brought the car to the airport and met us at the Arrivals area. Fortunately for us Brian agreed to ride with us into Dublin instead of taking the bus. Its' been a couple of years (since New Zealand) that I've driven on the left side (and sat on the right side). It takes just a bit to get used to. Brian is a very brave and patient man. He never yelled or screamed in fear and only once did I hear - "that was just a wee bit close". Thanks Brian for all your help.

We made it to the hotel and got the car parked with only minor confusion (of course on my part). We stayed at the Harding Hotel on Fishamble Street in downtown Dublin. Nice little hotel, great little pub and wonderful location. After getting settled we started walking towards the Temple Bar and Trinity College area - just to walk around. Well, the weather had other ideas and guess what was right in front of us when it started to rain..a pub. Go figure - Ireland?? a pub?? We stopped in ordered a pint and decided to stay for a late lunch and watch a bit of the Ireland vs. France Rugby Match. The last time we watched rugby was four years ago, in a small pub in Viet Nam and again it was World Cup but it was the final between NZ and France. It's actually pretty exciting and fast.

We knew that there was going to be music in the pub at our hotel so at half time we wandered back, grabbed a seat and watched the Irish beat France. That topped off with some great music was a nice way to start our stay in Ireland.

We were going to stay for more music but then the Ireland vs Poland Football (soccer) game came on - so the music stopped. I like football/soccer but I like music more so we head up for the night.

12 Oct 2015

Our room at the Harding was small but comfortable and breakfast was included. Breakfast was great!!! Starting our day off like this we probably wouldn't need lunch. We were going to take the local bus to tour but the very helpful young man at the front desk encouraged us to take the Hopon/off. This time - we probably broke even...not sure I would do that again. We took the bus out to Kilmainham Gaol.

Again, I'm going to rely on WIKI for basic info: Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison in Kilmainham, Dublin, Ireland. It is now a museum run by the Office of Public Works, an agency of the Government of Ireland. Many Irish revolutionaries, including the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, were imprisoned and executed in the prison by the British, and in 1923 by the Irish Free State.

Kilmainham Gaol

Kilmainham Gaol


Irish History

Irish History

The Rock Yard

The Rock Yard

Cell door lock

Cell door lock

For those interested in the history of Ireland in the early 1900's, this tour is a must. All guests must take a tour. We arrived about 1020 and there was a small queue for the 1045 tour. I was really glad we got there early - when we left the line was around and down the sidewalk. Get there early!!

Feeling a bit of a thirst, from the gaol we headed to Jameson Distillery. I'm not a big whiskey fan but Jim is. The tour included a tasting and you also must sign up for the tours. Again, timing is everything. We only had a short wait before the start of our tour, but long enough for Jim to chat with a young lady from Wisconsin who was working at the shop and to decide to treat himself to an early birthday gift. A "bottle yourself" Select Reserve Cask Strength Black Barrel Whiskey. I have to admit, it is quite tasty - let's hope it makes it home unscathed.

For Doug McGee!!!

For Doug McGee!!!

Happy Birthday Jim!!

Happy Birthday Jim!!

From Jameson's, we decided a wise decision was to take Jim's "birthday present" back to the hotel before heading out for more sightseeing. It was a beautiful, but chilly day. We walked along the River Liffey, over the Ha'penny Bridge and over to the Trinity College. I thought that he wanted to see the book of Kell's. (I had seen in back in 1986 when Peg and I went to Dublin after the first Crowley Family Reunion. At that time, I seem to remember seeing a few of the pages. Now there are only one or two to view.) But, Jim didn't really care and thought I wanted to see it, so we skipped that stop and headed back for a pint.

Italian for dinner tonight - Toscana Restaurant - it was pretty good.

River Liffey

River Liffey

Ha'penny Bridge

Ha'penny Bridge

Trinity College

Trinity College

Posted by pjburke 08:02 Archived in Ireland Comments (5)

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