1996-2000: An Irish Wedding

 1996 – Stupid O’Clock Ferry

Tuesday 17th September 2021 

Ferry booked Fishguard to Rosslare.  CO2 Passports updated with worming table and Irish Pet Advance Notice form submitted.  And just like that, we were off.  Arrived in plenty of time to walk CO2 and eat.  Ferry at 23.45, well past out bedtime!  Had to leave CO2 in the van but reckon they slept.  We took blankets up and after an ice cream for me (no surprises there) and a wine for J (equally no surprises!) we dozed on the benches in the bar.

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Great dog walking from free park up.  Local lady said quite a number of dog traffickers had been caught at Rosslare. View across to Port.

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Tourist Trap?  Possibly, but told motorhomes welcome and food reasonable.

1997 – Sleep

Wednesday 18th September 2021 

Landed at 4.00 am, Yes AM!  Drove to a park up … gate locked so onto Plan B … Murrintown Community Centre car park.  Perfect until about 6.30 … why do people need to hurl glass into recycling bins at this hour?  

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Murrintown Car Park … it was empty and QUIET when we arrived!  Despite the wafts of bacon form the butty van, we brunched chez nous.

We’d pre-booked a campsite not far from Sinead’s wedding venue …Moat Farm Camping.  A great site in that hard standing, views, dog walking nearby BUT at EUR25 pn, one would expect warm showers!  Fortunately, another guest tested them first so we showered aboard!

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View from our pitch.  Doesn’t it look damp?

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Local walk led me to a semi permanent pitch at the end of a long path … 4×4 needed.

1998 – OMG What Is This Wet Stuff!?

Thursday 19th September 2021 

An easy day … we walked up a hill … full wet weather gear adorned.  Primped a bit for the wedding the next day, me not James!  Just a hair trim for him … with the dog shears!

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Somewhat limited visibility … they don’t call this the Emerald Isle for nothing!

1999 – THE Wedding

Friday 20th September 2021 

Sinead had organised us a motorhome parking at the Rathsalagh Hotel … just had to get there!  We followed the hotel signs and I carefully negotiated the main entrance gate … wafers either side.  Got hollered at … you ain’t getting down there … there’s an arch … you’ll have to reverse and you can follow us to the MH parking.  By this time there were 5 cars backed up behind us … we were stopping other guests from arriving at the the wedding!  A bit of jiggling and cars got past, I reversed and followed the hotel van for about 2 miles to the ‘trade’ entrance!  Lovely chap complimented my driving skills with a ‘fair play to you’ … typical Irish understatement!

Parked up … usual wedding … drinks, lots of people to chat to … especially J’s other offspring and some siblings.  Lovely wedding … chapel with a friend playing and singing, great readings and band … 

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The day before outfits!  And real bonus was the M&S sale shoes at £3.99 … niece Zozo has her eye on these!

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J walked Sinead down the aisle.  Very special as we hadn’t known till Monday that we would make it.

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Wicked veil / train.

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J’s 2 sons Stephen and Simon annihilated Sinead in their speech … definitely X rated.

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Cake, bride and groom … all stunners.

The only incident was 25 mins of (cash up in flames) fireworks.  Knowing our Corrie doesn’t like storms and our gun dog (NOT) Oscar loud bangs, I left the display and went to check on CO2 … cushions and rugs completely disarranged!  

Given Sinead and Shane had not been able to visit the venue, this was the 3rd date rearrangement  … what a feat of organisational excellence.

 

2000 – National Stud … Not the Bride Groom!

Saturday 21st September 2021 

Breakfast at the hotel and a leisurely departure from friends and family.  We discovered Sinead had not made it to her suite last night.  Shane had spent a few hours of slumber alone.  Sinead was overheard explain to a chamber maid, whilst wearing an oversized Tshirt, that it was not what it seemed.  She had passed out in her brother’s room … honest.  Shane didn’t make it down for hours as his clothes had been mislaid.  J’s 3 other children headed off to Dublin for pre-flight Covid tests.

And we headed off to the National Stud.  A title aspirational English landlord threw money at the horse stud even giving  a winner to Royalty, and eventually got his peerage. Then left the Stud to the nation. 

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The grounds were stunning and you could smell the money.

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Current sperm donors and their fees … top billing is Invincible Spirit at EUR80,000 per shag!  Apparently the stallions have a very high success rate and it only takes minutes.  A quick recovery and they can ‘ service’ the next mare.  Some get shipped off to Australia  in the down season so sex all year round!  The window of opportunity, so to speak, is relatively short as owners don’t want young runners in the age bracket.

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Can’t see his wares, but he’s a stud!  Double railings keep the boys from brawling.

But for us the real joy here is the gardens.  As well as general the well tended and invested in air, there are two gardens.  Native species garden dedicated to a Saint, I forget which.  And a Japanese garden where you walk the 15 stages of life.
 
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With all the rain, this path was a mini steam.  Coordinated hopping by J and Corrie, neither of which appreciate wet feet.
 

1088-1101: Back to the Emerald Isle

1088: Drive to Holyhead

Wednesday 29th August 2018

I was driving and made a bit of mistake … I followed the sat nav and it took us across Wales on the A5 which we are sure is slower than crossing Wales at the top … BUT it was very pretty.  Another must come back to place.  We ate and rested near the Marina in Holyhead before catching our 2.30 am ferry.  The Irish crossings are unenlightened when it comes to dogs – they either have to be booked into their Stalag metal cages in the kennels, or stay in the vehicles.  We are not sure if they slept, but we got a humungous welcome when we returned.  We did NOT sleep.  There were quite a few solo men (lorry drivers without cabins) who were horizontal and the cacophony of snores was LOUD.  One chap gave us serious cause for alarm with his breath rasping like a death rattle.

1089: Yippee Back in Ireland

Thursday 30th August

We rested up a Malahide, next to the castle and park, before driving down to Camac Valley Campsite.  Our home for 4 nights, so awning up and dog walks in the adjacent park.  We largely ignored the dogs on leads signs, unless someone with small children was approaching.  We really do find Ireland pretty dog unfriendly … not allowed on busses, or in cafes etc.

 

1090: Kilmainham Goal

Friday 31st August

We cycled through the park to the Grand Canal, which is a cycle path.  Now you would think a cycle path allows one to cycle freely.  Not here!  There were 8 barriers; you could just wiggle a bike through, although no room for panniers.  But we had to tether the dogs, whilst we unhitched and lifted the Os-car over the barriers.  Did I mention 8 times!!!  We came back along the road, not as pretty but un-hitching free.

We had pre-booked timed tickets, taking it in turns to mind the dogs.  The goal was built along the lines of Pentonville, with the 3 Ss: Silence, Separation and Supervision.  As well as political prisoners, it also housed ordinary folk.  The inmates swelled to over 4000 during the famine as people were imprisoned for stealing a loaf as well as begging.  The leaders of the 1916 uprising were here and many were slaughtered in the yard used for rock breaking, until the British government put a stop to it as they realised the tide of public opinion was against.  A really moving place.

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Later the Carbage 50cc scooter event arrived for one night.  The rules are the bikes must be over 15 years old and only 50cc.  They had driven from Harwich across England and Wales over 5 days.

1091: Family and Friends

Saturday 1st September

MaryKate (J’s niece and Goddaughter), hubby Michael and two off spring drove down to see us, later joined by old friends Fionulla and Sean for a late lunch, or is it early supper?

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1092: Kerstin and The Game

Sunday 2nd September

Two big events today.  James got to go and see the GAA Gaelic Football Final, which his team won.  Up the Dubs.  He even managed to stay out till quite late!!!

Meantime, I did jobs around the van and walked the dogs.  The other significant event was Kerstin arriving from Germany … she arrived around midnight, Ryan Air was late, but at least it was flying.

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UP THE DUBS!

 1093: Onto Kerry

Monday 3rd September

After showers on board (we saved EUR6 between us buy not using the campsite showers), we headed off to Kerry.  Our destination was the Killarney National Park before we drove the Ring of Kerry.  K and I walked to Muckross Abbey and then around the outside of Muckross House.  Although towards the end of the day, there were till lots of Jaunting Cars (horse and carts for which Killarney is well known) offering to drive us and the dogs around the estate for EUR40.  Thank you but we like walking!

We found an overnight parking in a small leafy car park further on around the lake.  As well as Motorhome Craic, we also used Park4Night as the best apps for Ireland.

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The Abbey was free to wander.  Huge and with some massive fire places … how those Monks lived.

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The graveyard was still in use.

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The house had superb views down the lawn to the lake.

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Each evening, I get the map, guide books and iPad apps out to plan where we go and stay, often over a glass of sherry!

1095: A Day of Walks

Tuesday 4th September

We walked from our parking to Torc Waterfall.  Easy to loose the crowds on a circular walk past the waterfall.  A slight incident, where we lost Corrie … we could hear her barking excitedly from a distance.  It seamed like she was gone about 15 mins, but Kerstin timed our wait and it was only 5 mins.  She came back pleased with herself, only to be promptly put on the lead until the landscape was more open and we could see her!

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At Torc Waterfall.

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I had posted a question about driving along the scenic Gap of Dunloe, to be advised that it was hardly suitable for cars, let alone motorhomes.  In Killarney, the TIC told us that there was parking at Kitty’s Kitchen.  We were heading along the start of the Ring of Kerry, travelling anti-clockwise as advised so as to travel with the coaches … narrow roads and negates the need to suck in our sides and pass.  We did a spontaneous turn following the signs for the Gap of Dunloe.  We were really pleased we did … fabulous scenery. Very like Scotland.  J joined us for an ice-cream on our return!  We had done something like 15kms, so deserved.

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Joseph and his technicolour dream coat.  No mistaking these for boulders on the hills.

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Waiting for our triple ice creams 🙂

We overnighted on the Comane Peninsular.  Great views out across to Dingle.  The pub next door, Jack’s, is a well known seafood restaurant, but sadly shut for food on Tuesdays.  Probably just as well as mains were around EUR29-34!  We did manage a drink though and got some advice from the locals.

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 Planning.

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1096: Mega Sightseeing

Wednesday 5th September

Sight seeing included the Kerry Bog Village, where local dwellings had been relocated.  The information was a little dumbed down … coaches stop here.  Fortunately, the ticket office gave us the group rate so entry was only EUR5 pp, saving of EUR1.50.  Actually, we have been pleasantly surprised at how reasonable all entrance prices have been.

Cahersiveen had a lot to offer and it was here that we really started to find out about Daniel O’Connell, The Liberator.  He was a pacifist and believed that independence should be gained through legal means.  He was elected to the British Parliament and attended but refused to take the oath as it was Protestant.  To avoid an uprising, the Act of Catholic Emancipation was passed.  He also supported the abolition of slavery, women’s rights etc.

Our overnight was an absolute gem.  Cooncrome Harbour.  Just us, the waves and the stars.  Lovely chat with a local fisherman who was delighted we had found the place, he wanted to share.

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Kerstin kindly walked the dogs whilst J and I ran.  Cromane looking across to Dingle. 

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At the Kerry Bog Village.  The neighbouring pub was offering Irish coffees for EUR6, but we decided we’d make out own using the cooking brandy!

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During the famine, which lasted years, these pots were filled with soup for the starving … often just made with herbs and nettles.  Over a million and a half died and a further million emigrated.  The population has never recovered to its pre famine 8 million.

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Irish wolfhound.

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I just managed to use the flash as mama bird swooped in to feed her young.

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Just outside Cahersiveen is a monument and short river walk to Daniel O’Connell.

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His birth place is the ruins on the opposite bank.  He and his brother were adopted by his wealthy uncle and educated in France and London.

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In Cahersiveen the old Police Station / Military Barracks is now a local museum with a section on Daniel O’Connell.

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Ballycarberry Castle, not open to the public, but a romantic ruin.

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Two ring forts in the drizzle.

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Cooncrome harbour – our best night spot.

1097: Valencia Island 

Thursday 6th September 

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Kerstin’s morning swim followed by a Pilates session. I did offer loan of a wet suit!

James advised us that Valencia Island is the wettest place in Europe.  We don’t doubt him.  Portmagee had won some tourism award, but we drove through looking for somewhere to park, aborted and reckoned all it had to offer was brightly painted buildings.  Just over the bridge on Valencia Island is the Skellig Experience Centre.  This covered the history of the monks inhabiting Skellig Michael and carving 3 stairways out of the rock up to the monastery with beehive buildings at the top.  We watched a H&S film about how the boat landing, the climb up and down can be fraught … an American died this summer.  Boats onto the island were booked up till next week, dogs not allowed and the crossing each way could have taken 1.5 hours … so not for us.  We none of us fancied the EUR40 pp boat ride just to sail around the island.  Since the island was in a Star Wars film, it has become very popular.

Valencia Island is also where the first Atlantic telegraph cable came ashore.  It worked for 12 days, broke and wasn’t fixed till the following year.  The Cahersiveen Barracks was built to protect the cable.  We felt the area could have made more of the cable, but Skellig Michael over shadowed it.

A short drive up to Bray Head where K and I walked. The views out to the Skellig islands and across the coast were stunning, or would have been, had it been less misty.

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We had a quick look at Knight’s Town, the main town on Valencia, pleasant, but not much there…. 

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… so little, that the tourist information board made much of the loos!

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We overnighted in the car park for the Tetrapod Trackway, only discovered in the 1990’s, these marks were left by the first amphibian 3.5 million years ago.

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Our overnight view – the lighthouse and coast.

1098: Waterville and Derrynane – Best Beaches

Friday 7th September 

Given the narrow roads and how small our car park was, we got up and left pretty early.  We stopped at Waterville for breakfast and lunch.  Really lovely views and the morning light was superb. Well, it was until about 10.30 when the coaches arrived.  Fortunately we’d had the cameras out before the ‘trippers’ wreaked the atmosphere.  I know we are ‘tourists’ too, but we do not come in multitudes!

Derrynane is the home of Daniel O’Connell, which he inherited from his uncle.  A good introductory film about him at the start.  J rested, whilst K and I walked the most beautiful beach to Abbey Island and quickly around the house gardens, as the rain came in.

We overnighted in the really heavy rain at the motorhome parking in Sneem …  sounds of conkers being thrown on the roof, is NOT conducive to a good night’s sleep!  An opportunity to charge everything up and take on water for showers in the morning.

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Waterville.

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Charlie Chaplin used to visit.

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Kerstin’s second sea swim. We overheard some people admiring (!) her hardiness!  J and I shopped for a woollen Jumper for him … stocking up on warm clothes for our first winter in the UK for 4 years!

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Derrynane House

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Daniel O’Connell was imprisoned for 3 months for organising monster rallies (a million people would come to hear him). On his release he was paraded around Dublin atop this chariot, with his grandchildren dressed in green velvet on the lower tier.

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Abbey island by Derrynane.

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Kerstin had a couple of items on her check list of things to do … fish and chips was one of them.  And boy, was it good fish and chips.

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My fish chowder was pretty good too.  

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Sadly no music in any of the pubs in Sneem (too few tourists here), but we did have two Irish coffees in two pubs.

1099: Kenmare

Saturday 8th September 

K walked the dogs again, whilst J and I ran.  Then we all showered. We parked up in Kenmare by the pier and had a wander … Oh and an ice cream in the rain! Kenmare was laid out as a model town by lord Landsdowne, later the British Prime Minister.  It had a good feel to it and, whilst full of tourist shops and bars, real people live here.  I think we must have touristed ourselves out, as music was on in some bars later, but we had a quiet night in … and I let K beat me for the first time at crib!

1100: Return to Dublin

Sunday 9th September 

Another thing on K’s bucket list was a full Irish .. so we had a healthy start to our driving day!  We got back to Camac Valley Campsite and erected the awning.  We wouldn’t normally bother for one night, but we were entertaining some of J’s family … Delia and Liam, and John who’s over from Chicago.  Sadly Amelia didn’t make it.

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More cream James?

1101: Journeys Home

Monday 10th September 

Runs and Pilates before taking the awning down. Tom (another brother) and Mary popped over for coffee and kindly drove Kerstin the airport.  J and I parked up for the afternoon and early evening in Phoenix Park before heading off to Dublin Port for our 0215 hrs stupid o’clock ferry.

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We walked through Phoenix Park to see the Papal Monument where the current Pope recently delivered Mass.

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A new type of Disk Lock to stop your vehicle being stolen!