2006-2010: Shannon Back to the UK

2006: Oscar Disgraces Himself

Friday 27th August 2021

“Talking (at a distance) to the farmer’s wife she had also visited Fatima and goes there with fiends once a week to pray.”  Typo from the last post spotted by Mick P … couldn’t have been more unfortunate / inappropriate / ironic!  She was a lovely lady.

With another Covid test giving us the all clear and still having all senses of taste and smell, we left our sanctuary and drove to Clonmacnoise … another free for now Irish Office of Public Works site.  Not only are the ruins of the ancient monastery numerous and varied, they are also in a stunning spot over the Shannon.   It’s on the main tourist trail, but again Covid quiet for our visit. So important that the Pope visited and held a mass here in 1979.  Being the wet and windy Emerald Isle, a cover was erected over the specially made alter.  Oscar used it as a peeing post!

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We overnighted at Shannonbridge Marina.  We bought a waterways card giving us access to the toilets and chemical emptying.  Water was free all along the harbour, so I even did a washing load … stealth version where I keep the twin tub in the garage and the waste water (eco as I use soap nuts!) spilled directly into a drain, we had conveniently parked over.

We had a long chat with a chap called Joe (his email is JoefromIreland, wonder if he’s the only Joe in Ireland), who had been diagnosed with high blood pressure.  To avoid being prescribed drugs, he’d researched and come to the conclusion that a plant based diet could halt and even rectify most conditions, including heart.  Quite a draconian approach as one dr / guru / exponent even eschewed oils and nuts … not leaving a lot to add protein to your food.  We did consider it (briefly), but decided against … we like food too much.  However, we have added a lot of veggie and plant based meals to our diet.  We really notice a few lbs coming off when we have 4 veggies meals a week.  Those weeks where we eat out / eat a lot of meat … we put it back on!!!    Mindful of Joe’s advice, we ate out … if we’d wanted to go plant based our choices would have been limited to tomato soup … we chose chicken and salad!

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The old bridge across the Shannon from Shannonbridge Marina.

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Stunning by night!  But a pub next door and a few groups / parties on boats that continued until about 3.00 a.m. meant I had a bad night.  I also cleared up a load of glass bottles from the party goers … GRRR!

2007:  Ringdoon (Ringdoom), but no Gloom

Sunday 28th August 2021

We set off to walk a peninsula into Lough Ree containing a medieval castle and village.  We arrived and the land owner had closed the site!  The farmer had erected loads of No Dogs and then Keep Out signs.  We weren’t the only ones to arrive not knowing it was shut.  We parked in a nearby car park having a lot of landscaping work done for lunch.  And then as it was so peaceful and beautiful we stayed the night.  We walked to the nearby St John’s Wood, ancient woodland, being preserved.  And such a lovely evening, we moved the van a smidge and had a BBQ.

Another camper arrived and they joined us for a quick drink.  He is a teacher in Ireland and said he does no school work at all during weekends or holidays … either the Irish schooling is pants or he is a truly pants teacher … I’ve never come across one that could get away with confining the workload to weekdays during term time!

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Lovely and warm so time for a paddle.

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Judy’s Car Park.

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Peaceful spot to do some knitting … my knitting and unpicking notebook!

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BBQ spot.

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Double trouble snuggles.

2008:  A Distillery but no Purchase!!!

Sunday 29th August 2021

We headed to Dublin and stopped a Killbeggan distillery en route. They claim to be the oldest distillery in Ireland …. but upon being questioned by James … Yes, Bushmills were awarded their licence first, but Killbeggan started production earlier.  Killbeggan also stopped production and the the distillery was resurrected … of sorts.  It’s owned by another distillery, which is where the Killbeggan whiskey is made.  Using different water etc, it would NOT taste the same as the original.  And we didn’t think much of it anyway … we decided for the price, Dad would prefer a supermarket brand!!!  Very unusual for us to come away without a purchase.  

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One of the old pot stills … have a feeling this came from elsewhere…

We spent two nights at Camac Valley Campsite near Dublin.  We have used this site a lot, and like the big neighbouring park for running and dog walking.

2009:  Greyfriars and Family Meeting in Bray

Monday 30th August 2021

A short walk along the coast at Greystones … there is a coastal path all the way to Bray, which we will do one day.  

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Light lunch in Greystones.

Then a Covid distanced meeting with two of the brothers in the Lidl carpark at Bray.  Tom and Mary we had see at Sinead’s wedding, but John had only just flown in from Chicago.

 

2010:  Irish Tintern Abbey

Tuesday 31st August 2021

With the Rosslare ferry at stupid o’clock on the following morning, we drove south to Tintern Abbey.  First we stopped off to see Amelia, another sister … fab that we saw all but one of J’s siblings this trip.  Tintern Abbey was founded by the founder of the Welsh one.  He was crossing to Ireland in rough seas and prayed that if he was delivered safely, he old build an abbey where he landed. 

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 It was a lovely walk to the Abbey.

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I walked the labyrinth with Corrie, an evening habit I did on our Turkish lockdown campsite.

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Tintern Abbey … a lot of restoration going on, but due to covid the library was shut.

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Colclough Walled garden … lack of staff meant the numerous laden apple trees were not being harvested … visitors were encouraged to help themselves.

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A different route back.

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Oscar seems to have mastered the sideways head movement to get his sticks through.

The Tintern car park would have been ideal for an over night, but too far for our early ferry, so we moved onto St Helen’s.  What a fab spot.  We were joined y an Irishman in a Spanish registered van, his ferry was direct to Spain. 

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A ferry on the horizon … ours not until morning.

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Jez overlooking the harbour.

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I walked the coastal path in both directions … Oscar is camouflage hound.

2010: Homeward, but not quite.

Wednesday 1st September 2021

7.30 Ferry and managed to cat nap with our blankets on some benches.  As CO2 had to stay in the van, we stopped at the same car park in Fishguard on the way out and I took them for a walk.

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That’s the ferry we arrived on.

We overnighted at Stonehenge and the next day Jez was due into Abacus for work.

Only 2 weeks in ireland, but a great mix of family and travelling.  A great trip.

 

2001-2003: Seeking the Source

2001: Irish Craic

Sunday 22nd September 2021 

Having filled our tanks we drove to the other side of Ireland.  It wasn’t the plan … that had been to do a trip down memory lane for J, going to places he’s lived.  But all good plans are sooo apt to change.  We drove over to Clarinbridge … family home of Shane.  Both bride and groom were staying there for a few days and Shanes Parent’s hosted a BBQ for friends and family.  Needless to say the booze and chat flowed … amazing hospitality. A guitar was presented to the chap who’d played at the wedding service and Tom, Shane’s father, got his accordion out.  Even James sang a little song!  Whilst we’d been given a lift to the house, we opted to walk with CO2 back the 1.5km to where Jez was parked.  We were loaned high vis and weaved our way back!  Amazing stars.  Craicing night.

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Lunch from a new motorway service station …  my munchy crunchy burrito …  j ordered chicken and chips and was given the wrong order … lots of soggy chips … YUK!

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Our pitch close to water at the Clarinbridge pub.

2002: Quin & Stop 1 Along the Shannon

Monday 23rd & Tuesday 24th September 2021 

A slow start day!  We decided since we were over on the west, it made sense to follow the Shannon (longest UK river) back to its source.  But on the way to the Shannon, we stopped off at a small town called Quin … source of the Clunes in Ireland.  Originally from France, a lot settled here.

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Lunch in the Quin pub that was just opening.  OMG … I had the fish platter … it was just superb.  It was full of locals having their one meal of the day … huge portions and really reasonable prices … no wonder it was busy.

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Quin Abbey.

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J beside some Clune graves … some old and newer so Clunes still reside in Quin.  A lot of James and Catherine Clunes … oh dear!

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Quin Abbey:  walls still standing.

We decided to not to explore Limerick city.  Tried to see the massive original Irish hydro electric power station on the way, but it was currently closed to visitors.  But we did see the dams further up stream at O’Briansbridge.  I walked upstream upon arrival and the next morning we both walked downstream.

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Walks in either direction.

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Walking up stream to the dam.

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Canal and Shannon both converge.

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Pitch perfect.

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Local children had contributed to this Fairy Glen … said it before, but will say it again … In England I suspect this would have been vandalised.  

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One of the hump backed …. bridges, not James!  Built over tributary streams for the horses.

2003: Killaloe and Ballina

Tuesday 24th September 2021

A very SHORT drive up river to Ballina … a free carpark by a very busy open air pool. Whilst J rested, I walked the Tourist Trail.  Late afternoon we crossed over the bridge to Killaloe church … cant remember why the cross was special, but it was!  For such a tourist place, a dearth on Logh Derg (!) of places to eat … all fully booked, so back to the van for home cooked supper.  And look at that sky … it was super warm.  Shame it hadn’t been like this the day of the wedding.

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Looking across to Killaloe Church.

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Ancient bridge … the metal work in front of it was for fishing.  Lovely mellow hills all along our route.

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A railway was extended to service guests at a hotel on the banks of Lough Derg.  Local washer women staged a protest … unusual in those times.  They lay on the train track until a bridge over the line was built.

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Killaoe Church and Cross.

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In the absence of a meal out, we had this for pud.  Forgotten how good they are.  Ice cream and chocolate … what’s not to like?