Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Belfast, Ireland- ancestral home of the Diana clan:-)

Northern Ireland and Belfast were not part of our planning, until Diana broke the news!  Her great great grandfather was from Antrim County, Northern Ireland!

With this news- a day trip to Belfast was in the cards!  Diana and I took the train to Belfast, spending a mere 4 hours checking out the city.  Sadly, with so little time, we did not have the opportunity to see the interesting sites that set Belfast from the Republic of Ireland.

But we did walk part of the town, and listen to music in a pub!  Another trip will be in the cards to learn more!  We asked about the town diana's great great grandfather came from, but both a google search and talking with locals in the pub did not come up with information to help us.  We now have a challenge:-)

Diana with her new favorite drink!  The sticker on the mirror welcomes her to Antrim County!

Photos of the town

Kenmare- an incredibly cute coastal town close to so many things!

We knew we wanted to drive the Ring of Kerry, but wanted to stay some place small, so we skipped staying in Kilarny and chose to stay in the town of Kenmare.  So glad we did!  Possibly our favorite place in all of ireland- cute, friendly, close to things, lots to do, and the sea!  We stayed at a small hotel in the center of the town- with a pub downstairs!!  Each night we would go listen to music and have a pint to reminisce the day.  From Kenmare, we drove the Ring of Kerry, and added the Ring of Skellig, which takes you to the western-most point of Ireland.  We tried to take a day trip to Skellig Island- from the Star Wars movie- but it was booked the entire time we were there.  The town itself is totally cute, with colorful shops, great food, and sights!

The rain stopped and we had a most beautiful sunset on the Kenmare coast!

The Ring of Kerry is a drive around the Iveragh Penninsula- with dramatic cliffs, beautiful coastline, and lots of ruins!  Takes about 6 hours to drive it, if you stop.  It connects with the Ring of Skellig which takes you further west.  Here are the Cliffs of Skellig (also known as the Cliffs of Kerry).  Not as tall as the Cliffs of Moher (see Galway), but every bit as beautiful!

From the Cliffs of Skellig, you can see the Skellig Islands- a monestary was built there in Medieval times, with rough-hewn stone steps to the top.  It was included in the latest Star Wars movie.

The countryside is really beautiful in Ireland

An old stone fort- Cahergal- on the Ring of Kerry

Sheep are everywhere!

Kenmare- main street

Ruined castles are everywhere!

One of the sights of the Ring of Kerry is the Muckross house- an old manor- we toured it- it was worth it!

No photos were allowed inside the Muckross house, but I was able to snap a couple, unnoticed!

The Kerry National Park is worth a days visit, with the waterfalls and views- beautiful!

Galway- a most wonderful city, and the trip we took to get there

We sadly and reluctantly left Kenmare- we loved it so much!  Our next stop was Galway.  We did not realise how far the drive would be!  2 hours to Dingle to see the cute town on the coast, then 5 1/2 hours to Galway- much of it in the dark, with no clear directions (our GPS was broken!). That we made it is a testament to adaptaility.  We figured we would just aim north and follow the signs:-).  

 Galway was our base to explore the Cliffs of Moher, Doolin (the music town), and the surrounding area.  After the grueling drive, we spent a day in town- car free:-).  Near our hotel was a wonderful pub- O'Connors!  Filled to the brim with old stuff, Guiness and Irish whiskey, and great music, it was our refuge each of the 3 nights we stayed in Galway.  We did not stay in the town center, rather in a "suburb" of Salthill, on the coast.  It took us a day to bond with the city, but by the time we had to leave, we were sad! So here is our Galway trip.

On our way to Galway, our first stop was the town of Dingle on the Dingle penninsula.  Cute as all get out!  On our next trip to Ireland, we will definitely stay here!!!

Fungi the Dolphin adopted the harbor of Dingle!

An odd character playing traditional Irish music!

The pub the town is known for!

The town cathedral

St. George- my favorite Saint!

Rich loved this door!!

Then we drove to Galway!  The town itself is quite large- 80,000 people!  Much larger than the towns we had stayed in, so it took us a bit to get used to so many people, and managing such a large area:-)  (We adapted to it very quickly!)

The 3 of us below the Claddagh Ring- it means Love, Loyalty, and Friednship.
The symbol is everywhere, for good reason!

A drink at O'Connors- Guiness and Whiskey:-)

The Kennedy Bar in Galway- it commemorates the 1963 visit by John and Jackie Kennedy! 

Galway has a really great and walkable downtown.
The main street of Galway!   Like I said- cute!

The harboe and Spanish Arch.

After sight-seeing- an Irish Coffee!

St.Patricks Cathedral- Galway.  John Kennedy donated the money to complete it!  It is the newest cathedral in Ireland- 

Diana and Rich at Eyre Square- the center of Galway

Galway is the base for visiting the Cliffs of Moher!  At 702 feet, they are magnificent!!  They stretch for 8 kilometers (5 1/1 miles), with walking trails at the top, they are beautiful!!!!!  The drive to them is filled with cool sights as well!

Old, ruined castles!

The Burren- a fairly desloate area of rock, which actually holds some of Irelands greatest plants:

Prehistoric buriel grounds

Old churches!

And the Cliffs of Moher- magnificent!!

Don't get too close to the edge!