Our Trip around the Emerald Isle in 2008

Photo album on Picasa:

Before we left:

  • Cartwheels of Joy(11 March 2008):
    After years of dreaming and planning, we finally flew to Ireland! The country I have always wanted to visit – where, it is said, unicorns guard holy wells in the glens, leprechauns hide their gold in 500-year-old trees, magnificent silver horses thunder across rolling hills, and the saints and druids of old wander among men (and women) and tell their ancient stories in song. Continue reading —>
  • Driving on the left or the right?(19 March 208)
    While browsing travel blogs on Ireland (in the run-up to our trip in September 2008), I came across a post titled “Irish politicians proposes switch to right hand driving”. And here hubs and myself had been getting all excited at the fact that we would actually be able to drive in Ireland without going all cross-eyed with intense concentration in order to avoid knocking into people, sheep, fences, police cars, etc. and trying to remember which way to drive around round-abouts and traffic circles and who had to yield to whom. Continue reading —>
  • Learning a wee bit of Irish(14 April 2008)
    Cad é mar atá tú? Tá mé go maith, go raibh maith agat!
    Or, in other words: How are ya? I’m well, thank you! In case you haven’t figured this out yet (i.e. if you haven’t read all my previous posts about Ireland and the Irish, and if you haven’t been part of my life for the last decade or two), I am a bit nuts about all things Irish. Some might uncharitably say it borders on an obsession. I prefer to think of it as a yearning to fulfil a lifelong dream. Continue reading —>
  • Learning Irish: In the Name of the Fada (01 July 2008)
    My curiosity for the Irish Gaelic language sometimes leads me to strange places on the internet. A month or two ago, for instance, I came across an RTE series called In the Name of the Fada, which ran for six episodes from 13 March to 17 April 2008. A “fada” is that little accent sign (‘), which you place on the vowels (a, e, i, o, u) in Irish Gaelic to make a different sound (i.e. á, é, í, ó and ú). Continue reading —>
  • Tickets to Christy Moore gig in Sligo (25 August 2008)
    I just got off the Skype with Ireland. More precisely, a music company called Third Wave Music in Sligo. They are selling tickets to Christy Moore’s gig on 02 October 2008 at the Radisson Hotel at Ballincar, just outside Sligo town, on the way to Rosses Point.So when I saw that he’d be performing in Sligo at approximately the time when we might just conceivably be in the area, I just HAD to buy us tickets. A once-in-a-lifetime experience! Continue reading —>
  • We’re back! (18 October 2008)
    Ireland is a fantastic country, the people we met were always helpful, encouraging and welcoming, the landscape ranges all the way from pretty, rustic and quaint to gloriously wild and spectacular, and the entire country is unbelievably rich in history, culture, … everything! In our brief visit, I feel like we have only scratched the surface. Continue reading —>

General observations about Ireland:

  • Our Route around the Island (19 October 2008)
    Our long-awaited trip to Ireland took us anti-clockwise around the entire island, North and South. We landed in Dublin, before heading north to Belfast. From there we drove around the Glens of Antrim and the Causeway Coast to Derry. We followed the coast from Derry through Donegal, Sligo, Mayo, Galway, Clare and Kerry to Cork. Then, running out of time, we headed inland via Tipperary, Kilkenny, Laois and Kildare, across to Wicklow and finally back to Dublin. Continue reading —>
  • Driving around a bilingual country (30 October 2008)
    In case you don’t know it, Ireland has two official languages: English and Irish Gaelic. In the last few months I’d been trying to learn a wee bit of Gaelic in the (as it turns out rather pointless) hope of nattering away with the locals in their home language. Not that I’d achieved ANY level of fluency by the time I had worked my way through “Giota Beag” and “Giota Beag Eile”, the excellent Irish language learning programmes on the BBC’s Radio Ulster! Continue reading —>
  • Distances cross-country (30 October 2008)
    To give you an idea of the size of the island of Ireland (that’s including Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland), I consulted the route planner of the helpful Automobile Association of Ireland. Continue reading —>
  • Driving around Ireland (01 November 2008)
    Driving around Ireland is fairly straightforward for South Africans. As part of the heritage of British Imperialism, we also drive on the left. In addition, most of the hire cars appear to be manuals, which we’re used to. The fact that we didn’t have to get used to driving ‘the wrong way’ around multi-lane traffic circles and that we didn’t have to perform complicated mental adjustments when turning into oncoming – whooops! close call! soooorry!! – traffic, was definitely an advantage. Continue reading —>
  • Encounters along the road – human and otherwise (03 November 2008)
    Throughout both north and south, we were amazed at how friendly and polite other drivers were, letting other cars into the flow of traffic etc. Maybe it was just a fluke of nature, or synchronicity in action, or perhaps we were sending out a strong forcefield of “we’re really ecstatic to be here” vibes, which shielded us? Continue reading —>
  • Travelling technophiles (03 November 2008)
    Not so long ago, going on a trip meant that we gave the car a quick once-over, topped up petrol, oil and water, pumped up the tyres, stuffed some clothes into a suitcase, filled up a thermos flask with tea, packed a couple of sandwiches for the road, picked up a route map at the local service station, and headed off into the big blue yonder. Oh – and we took along the old 35mm film camera with a spare roll of film or two – if it was a really big trip. This time round, it involved a whole lot more high-tech gadgetry. Continue reading —>

Dublin days:

  • Touchdown (30 October 2008)
    The moment I had dreamed about for years had come at last. The green-and-white Aer Lingus plane was crossing the Irish Sea, which was hidden under a layer of white clouds so impenetrably solid I could imagine walking across it. My popping ears signalled that we were descending. And suddenly we were in the middle of the whiteness, and the cloud was disintegrating like mist in bright sunlight. Continue reading —>
  • The tale of the squeaking wheels (30 October 2008)
    When we arrived at Dublin Airport, we took the bus into the centre of town. We had booked a room in one of the student accommodations at Trinity College. Our room was in Goldsmith Hall, which was at the far end of the campus. A long walk awaited us, laden down as we were with two bulging rucksacks and two unwieldy suitcases. And unfortunately, this is when we realised that the wheels were squeaking. Continue reading —>
  • Barry’s Tea and Irish Scones (30 October 2008)
    After recovering from the little episode of the squeaking suitcase wheels, we were eager to explore Dublin. We emerged into rush hour traffic and found our way to the brandnew Science Gallery Cafe, where we had our very first Irish Tea. We also had our very first Irish scone and jam. Continue reading —>
  • Along the Liffey (part 1) (16 November 2008) (updated 17 Nov 2008)
    Our first exploration of Dublin’s city centre led us north from Trinity College towards the banks of the River Liffey. The Liffey is the river that bisects the city of Dublin, broadly dividing it into the northside and the southside. Historically, the northside was a more working class area, whereas the southside was the more middle-class and upper-middle-class area, though this division is not very clear and things have changed over the years. Continue reading —>
  • Along the Liffey (part 2) (18 November 2008)
    Dublin is bisected by the River Liffey. As a result, there are a LOT of bridges. Here are some photos we took of the bridges we encountered in our exploration of Dublin, sorted from east to west. Continue reading —>
  • ’tis Blackberry season up north (08 September 2009)
    My friend Amy wrote about wild blackberries today. Reading her post brought back a flood of emotions and memories of our dream trip to Ireland in September last year. I remember how our dear friends from Belfast took us hiking in the Mourne Mountains, unwittingly giving us a present that we took with us throughout our 3-week journey around their island: They taught us about the wild blackberries growing on the side of the road during September/October every year.Continue reading —>

Our Route around Ireland

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