Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Deilginis & Flight

Today we went to Dalkey, which is effectively a suburb of Dublin. We went there because we have distant relatives in the area and wanted to visit them. They took us for a walk around the hill in Dalkey from where you should be able to see magnificent views over the harbour, but there was a heavy mist there this morning and so we only saw mist. We could hear the water, so knew it must have been close, but that was the extent of our water views. The mist was great though and made for some interesting photos.

It was nice to meet our relatives (my grandmother's cousins) for me, and nice for mum to see them again (she first met them when she was in Europe with my dad in 1976).

After the visit, we returned to Baile Átha Cliath for a few hours, which gave us enough time to wander through Grafton St and then head back to the hotel to collect our baggage and head off to the airport.

Our flight was delayed by about 20mins, according to the notice in the airport, but I think it took off about 30mins behind schedule, which meant we landed about 20 to 30mins late in Paris-Beauvais. The flight was uneventful aside from the lateness, which is probably good for something like a flight.

We were both tired when we landed. I walked through the passport check, with no problems, as usual, and then saw an office selling the tickets for the bus back to Paris. We didn't have much cash on us, so I wanted to buy the tickets with my carte bleue (debit card). Unfortunately, this office didn't accept payment by cards and told me to go to the office outside the airport. So I did. With mum following me, trying to ask me something. I got to the office window, bought the tickets, and was thinking about jumping on the bus which was right there, when mum finally got the chance to ask me where our bags were. Bugger. I'd forgotten to collect them, and we'd passed through the "customs" check already. I returned to the airport, and explained my mistake to the information desk woman, who was actually rather friendly, and she told me to go in through the security doors to get the bags, after seeing our boarding passes. Luckily it all ended well, though if mum hadn't been there, I may have only remembered halfway to Paris on the bus, which would have been very annoying indeed.

So, we're back in Paris now. Ireland was fantastic, and I want to return one day.

Photos of the flight here.

It's late, after midnight, and time for bed.

Monday, May 05, 2008


Today we went to the most popular Irish tourist attraction: The Guinness Storehouse. I was impressed and surprised by the museum, and had a great time there. I think everyone visiting Baile Átha Cliath should do it. I've uploaded quite a few photos of the visit, including a few taken in the bar at the top of the factory, where each visitor receives his/her free pint of the blonde in the black dress. The view from this bar over Dublin was spectacular, and the weather was perfect.

The pint was delicious, and I think a good number more are going to follow its path through my digestive system in the future.

After the Guinness Storehouse, we visited a lot more of Dubhlinn, including the famous statue of a famous Irish Lass, Molly Malone, otherwise known as 'The Tart with the Cart', 'The Dish with the Fish', 'The Trollop with the Scallop' and probably numerous others. It's said that she was celibate... she'd celibate here, celibate there...

We were planning on taking a river cruise along the Liffey, but changed our minds when we discovered that the cruises had been cancelled for the afternoon due to an extremely low tide.

Dinner on Sunday night was at an Irish restaurant called Flanagan's, where we were served by a waitress from Toowoomba. We both had Irish stew, which was delicious, but filling. I thought I was going to explode. It was so filling that I wasn't able to entirely finish off my dessert!

Check out some electronic photographs of Sunday in Dublin here.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Baile Átha Cliath

After leaving Bóthar na Trá, we headed straight to Baile Átha Cliath (Dublin). We thought we had to have the rental car back at the agency by 4pm because that's the time we were told the agency in the city centre closed, and we didn't relish the idea of having to drive back to the aerfort to return it there. We rang the agency on the way back to get directions because the free map they'd given us was next to useless, and they told us that they were open until 5:30pm, which was a bonus for us.

Because of the extra time, we checked into the hotel first and dumped our bags there to avoid having to cart them to the hotel from the agency. The rental company (like most others) require the cars to be returned with a full tank of petrol, and it turns out that petrol stations are hard to find in Dublin if one isn't a local. Eventually we found one in an obscure side-street, returned the car, and then headed back to the centre of Dubhlinn.

Because we were tired, we just walked around the centre of Dublin, and had a look through the Temple Bar area, which is interesting, and somewhere I'd like to spend some more time. After our walk, we were both hungry and thought that fish and chips would be a great idea for dinner (and it was a great idea - delicious). After dinner, back to the hotel for an early(ish) night.


We were both amused to see a bar called "Ned Kelly's Sportsclub". I know, Kelly's a good Irish name, and it's possible that it's not named after the bushranger.

Gallimh & Bóthar na Trá

This morning after breakfast we wandered over to the Cathedral in Galway, just to have a look, as it looked like a nice building when we passed it on the way to through last night. The building is quite impressive and made of stone that looks like the stuff used to build the fences all over the countryside. The photos of the cathedral are in the same folder as yesterday's Gallimh photos. We walked past the pub with the Guinness signs on the way back to the b&b to collect the car and head off to Bóthar na Trá and Baile Átha Cliath.

Bóthar na Trá (Salthill) is a beach/holiday area just next to Gallimh. It was really windy and a little rainy when we were there, so it didn't exactly appeal as a beach holiday destination, but maybe we've been spoilt with places like Noosa. As a town/village, Salthill is picturesque, and quaint. In spite of the freezing weather, we saw a couple of guys go swimming in the sea, while their friends watched on (their friends were wearing thick, weather-proof jackets). I really hope it was just done as a dare, or perhaps the swimmers lost a bet of some sort. I didn't take any photos of Bóthar na Trá's swimmers, but here are some other pics.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cathair na Mart, Conamara and Gaillimh

This morning we returned to Ballinagh for another look around, as we had a lead on a possible distant relative who may have been able to show us which farm house my grandmother was born in, but when we got there the house was deserted so while it was definitely a very old farm house, we don't know if it's 'the' very old farm house, or even if 'the' very old farm house is still standing.

With the help of our rental car, we made our way over to Westport (Cathair na Mart), where we stopped briefly at a restaurant/café on the quay for lunch. The food was delicious, and I'd recommend the walnut and something* encrusted cod. After lunch we installed ourselves in the car once more and drove through Connemara, which meant passing through amazingly beautiful scenery. We stopped along the road a couple of times to get out of the car for some photo opportunities, but for the most part, we kept going as there were really very few places where one could safely stop a car along those roads – mostly narrow, with no road shoulders, and somehow two-way, and with a speed limit of 100km/h, which was impossible on most of it – I think I probably averaged about 60 to 70.

This evening, at about 4:00pm, we arrived in Galway, and about an hour later, due to heavy traffic and a slight case of being geographically embarrassed, we arrived at our hotel (actually a b&b). We checked in, dumped our bags, and then headed out for a walk through Gaillimh's main streets. Galway's much bigger than either of us were expecting, and the size caught us by surprise, which was one of the reasons for the earlier geographical embarrassment. I like Gaillimh so far, from what I've already seen of it.
On the way to Galway, when we were in Clifden (maybe), we saw a highway sign directing people to turn left for Galway, but there was nowhere to turn left for quite some distance, which was amusing and a bit confusing.

Of course there are photos from today: Cathair na Mart, Conamara, and Gaillimh.

* It was specified on the menu, but I've forgotten what it was.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Béal Átha na nEach

Ballinagh, or Bellananagh, or Béal Átha na nEach. The first two spellings are the English names, and the third is the Irish. Apparently the first is the correct one, even though the second appears on some road signs and maps. Actually, road signs and maps use either, depending on the mood of the person who printed them, as far as I can tell, as it seems fairly random. I think it would be confusing for someone looking for directions if they didn't know that the two were the same town.

It's a small town, with about 2 main streets, but 2 or 3 pubs, of course. My grandmother was born in this town, which was the reason we visited it, as it isn't exactly a major tourist mecca. It was interesting to see Ballinagh from a historical/family perspective, as my grandma mentioned it many times, and it was good to finally see the place. It seems to be a friendly town, as most people said hello to us on the street, even though we were obviously complete strangers; a far cry from some other towns and cities, such as the one I currently live in, and another that I have lived in. Clicking here will magically transport you to some photos of the town.

After Bellananagh we returned to An Cabhán to take a look around and walk down the main street in the old part of the town. It's much bigger than Béal Átha na nEach, yet still a fairly small town. More photos from Cavan can be found here.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

An Cabhán

We stopped in Cavan for lunch at a great Irish restaurant, and had leg of roast lamb for lunch (see photos) and then dessert (but I ate it too quickly and forgot to take a picture). The meal was delicious and now I feel extremely full, and I think if I ate anything now I'd explode and shower the room with a mixture of intestines, lamb and chocolate. It would be an interesting approach to interior decorating. Cavan's a small town, though it seems quite friendly, and the waiters in the restaurant were incredibly friendly and helpful, as is the owner of the B&B where we're staying, which is such a culture shock after France. We're going to head over to Bellananagh soon to have a look around.

Flight to Dublin and Hire Car

We flew to Dublin with Ryanair after waking up at the ghastly hour of 5am because we needed to leave home at 5:30am to get to Porte Maillot on time for the bus to the airport at Beauvais, which is light years from Paris. Our flight was scheduled to leave at 9:30am, and that meant being at Porte Maillot by 6:15 for the bus as it's necessary to be there 3 hours and 15 minutes before the departure time. We were a little bit early, but that's better than the alternative, and so we arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare, and had breakfast. Our flight boarded at 9:35am, which obviously means it was delayed for some reason, but we made up time in the air and landed in Dublin exactly as scheduled. After collecting our baggage and going through passport control etc., we collected the hire car and headed off towards Cavan.