|Somewhere off the West coast of Ireland|
On this occaision our guests were 2 Americans from the New England state of Connecticut and the glamorous destination was Ireland in June.
Which meant it mainly rained......
But not always. And in fact on some of the days it was quite sunny.
|Scene of the 1916 Rising,Dublin|
So Dublin was a a vibrant stopover with plenty of action and a ska festival to boot. 'A very clean place' said Colleen. 'Hic' said Don as we visited the Guinness Storehouse where they must have got lost still not emerging 3 hours later....
We took in all the sites-O Connel street and the Post Office-scene of the 1916 Easter Rising, Dublin Castle, the Temple Bar and the rest.
Leaving Dublin we headed south to Waterford where a small 6 car ferry was the only access to the island based Castle hotel, where the Vikings had first landed before deciding to found the actual city itself.
|Fat man on the rocks|
From Waterford we could head out on day trips. One day we went to the famous Rock of Cashel and another to a Lithium Mine. Not even the Irish knew they had lithium-but Don did as he had some investments there. And apart from the Lithium County Carlow is a pleasant place for a couple hours break, noticeably the small river crossing of Leighlinbridge with it's ancient stone bridge, collapsing castle and riverside walks.
Along the south coast via Dunvegan we had a lunch break at the Ballymaloe cookery school - very famous and then accidentally happened upon the small lifeboat station of Ballycotton (older readers will remember he had a bandshow back in the 60s) where we met the publican Gerry who dispelled the Americans views that Dublin was a quiet little backwater when he described it as something equivalent to Sodom and Gommorrah. Then a fisherman friend came in and they played dancing lobsters on the bar while conversing unintelligibly about mackerel.
|Gap of Dunloe in County Kerry|
A day trip around county Cork took us to Clonakilty, home town of Michael Collins-rebel leader cum free state leader and hammer of the rebels. Assassinated in a valley not far away at the peak of his career during the Irish civil war. By now the rain had set in a bit..but luckily Don and Colleens main interest was meeting the local characters in the local pubs...no shortage there then.....
|Macroom at the top|
Over on Tralee Bay the visitors chose to stay at Ballyseede castle- a lovely spot-despite being right next to the 1923 Ballyseedy massacre monument when 8 IRA men were tied to a landmine by Free State soldiers and executed. Unluckily for the perpetrators one man escaped as he was blown into the nearby ditch and was able to get away and tell the tale. Well, it's the case that there's no shortage of massacres,battles and gory incidents all around Ireland interspersed with the charming touristy stuff so you're never far away from either!
The only way to travel!
|'How ya doing!'|
Heading on across the dolphin infested mouth of the Shannon River into County Clare the rain came down again....bringing to mind numerous episodes of Father Ted (which was filmed here). The cliffs of Moher couldn't even be seen, never mind accessed, so we went to the musical village of Lisdoonvarna (for reference google the Christy Moore song) instead.
|Off the Doolin shore|
The next day was a ridiculously sunny day - confusing everyone. So off they went out to sea on a little boat trip not only taking in spectacular views of the cliffs of Moher from the sea but also including a brief jaunt around the nearby Arran islands (see opening shots of Father Ted).
The small village of Doolin is a must for visitors to Clare with some excelent coastal scenery, all the boat trips you'll need and some great bars and music outlets.
The final day saw a visit to Galway -just across the Connaught border-but sadly in the rain. And by now the rain was quite intense and causing some flooding...so just about time to go....and leaving from Shannon airport would you guess-the sun came out....