A Different Visit to Ireland
I spent three weeks exploring the back roads of Ireland. I was looking for places I had read about in old books. I found them and I discovered wonderful things I never expected.
Trim Castle is beside the River Boyne in Trim, County Meath, not far from Dublin. This is a spectacular castle, moat and everything. The Mel Gibson movie Braveheart was filmed here. Kids were climbing around on things and nothing was roped off. You can touch anything.
The Wonderful Barn is really an eccentric grain storage barn with two pigeon-houses. They were built by the Squire Conolly’s widow Katherine as a famine relief scheme following the potato famine of 1740-41. Some 70 feet tall with a staircase winding around the outside. Everything about them is unique.
Giant’s Causeway was the most amazing thing I saw in Ireland. There are some 40,000 enormous columns like stepping stones leading from the cliff into the sea. It was so much more amazing than I ever expected. It is big and beautiful and don’t miss it.
If you are going to Ireland, you have to see the Cliffs of Moher. They are the Cliffs of Insanity in the Princess Bride movie. They are over 700 feet above the Atlantic overlooking the Aran Islands in Galway Bay. There is a Victorian tower and you can see a Napoleon Tower in the distance.
Trim is about an hour from Dublin. It has a great castle. You can explore other ruins in the area. The old town walls are there. You can just walk around, explore, touch and even climb on the castle, the walls, the gate, an old abbey, tower, hospital and other ruins. The town had lots of little shops.
Shannon Harbour is a very small village built where the Grand Canal meets the Shannon River. It was built in 1830 to provide accommodations to passengers traveling along the Grand Canal. There are large abandoned hotels and warehouses.
I totaled the first rental car. Nothing I had read prepared me for traveling in Ireland. The roads I was on were narrow. Really narrow. And signs, if there were any at all, were confusing.
You need a GPS. Rent a small car. That sign means kilometers, not miles per hour. Drive on the left. Be careful. Irish police are very nice.
I had a very hard time understanding anyone when I first got to Ireland. They were speaking English, but I was not understanding the accent. It took a while. There are some areas where the signs are only in Gaelic, but usually English was also on the signs. People were very amused by my accent. One woman ran and got her husband, asked me to say it again, then exclaimed, “She sounds just like someone on the telly!”
That smell? Like suntan lotion or a Pina Colada? That is gorse. Gorse is a large dark green shrub with prickly stems and brilliant yellow flowers. Don’t bring the seeds home. They live forever and spread to create an absolutely impenetrable thorny thicket. They are an invasive in some areas of the United States.
Crannmor Country Guest House
Trim, County Meath, Ireland
This is a beautiful house built in 1825. It is set amid fields with donkeys and sheep. The baby lambs were just born when I was there. The bed was comfortable and I had a private bath. My host and hostess were wonderful, very friendly and helpful. This was a Bed & Breakfast, so in the morning I ate together with the other guests. Lots and lots of food was served in platters on the table.
Greenacres Bed & Breakfast
Rathcoole, one of the little villages around Dublin
Greenacres Bed & Breakfast was a very comfortable inn. It is convenient to Dublin, Leixlip, Castletown and some other places I was hoping to explore. Mary Spillane, my hostess, was so very accommodating. Greenacres Bed & Breakfast is very clean, bright and convenient. The food was wonderful. And I could not have had more helpful hosts.