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Ireland – Day 2 (lots of pictures!!)

May 23, 2012

Day 2 – We woke up at Slane Farm well rested and ready to see what Ireland had in store for us. First, we checked to see if our bag had arrived. No luck there, so we decided to stick around the general area until mid-morning to see if it arrived. We drove around taking in the sights including driving by Newgrange.

This is Jake saying “You REALLY aren’t going to walk up that hill and around the corner with me?”


Hey look! It’s a crumbling…something!

Church? I’m going with crumbling church.

Then back to Slane to check on the bag again. Since it still wasn’t  in Dublin, we  hit the road after saying goodbye to Oscar first.

Our host at Slane Farm really recommended we see Newgrange even though we didn’t have much interest in it. We ended up going through the exhibit hall but didn’t go on the tour because we knew that we needed to be in Clare by evening and didn’t know how long it might take to get there. It also might have something to do with the fact that it was an organized tour and you had to take a bus from the exhibit hall to the monument. We prefer to explore on our own but if we ever go back, we’ll probably tour both Newgrange and Knowth.  This is Newgrange from the road.

The exhibit hall was very comprehensive and even pointed out another tomb located near Kells called Loughcrew. Since that was the general direction we wanted to head, we figured we’d stop by that tomb instead.

We hit the road for Kells!

As we were entering the town, we saw a cemetery with high crosses and wanted to stop and get some pictures. Jake pulled about 5 miles* from the cemetery and expected that we just walk.  I objected to this plan and suggested we drive into the cemetery like normal people. He apparently hadn’t seen the drive entrance. So we drove back and Jake turned into what he thought was the drive entrance but was actually the driveway for the house next door. We tried a second time but this time he mistook the service gate to be the entrance because he was sure the gate that was actually the entrance was too small to fit a car. On the 3rd time, he attempted to enter through the gate and I had to agree with him and this gate was NOT big enough for a car. So then he returned to the previous parking spot 5 miles from the cemetery with only minimal gloating and we walked.
*This is an approximation based on the wind speed, wind chill factor, my laziness and less than stellar distance perception.

After the cemetery, we headed into the heart of Kells and stopped at the Market Cross.

Cool carvings on the Market Cross…blocked by Jake

Not wanting to arrive in Clare too late at night, we didn’t go by the monastery in Kells, where the Book of Kells is said to have originated from. We should probably add that to our list of places to visit if we return.

Then we set off to find Loughcrew. This was easier said than done and I think we spent over an hour wandering around the same roads before we stumbled upon it. 

That way? Or this way?

I knew that in theory, there was key we needed to get from a nearby gift shop to actually enter the tomb, but considering how long it took us to find the place, and that we still weren’t 100% sure which roads we took to get there, we decided to just go up to the tomb sans key. Besides, I figured that the tomb was right around the corner and if we wanted the key, we could always come back to the car and go get it, right? Little did we know that we’d be hiking up a steep slope covered in grass. If we’d known what we were in for, we (I) might have reconsidered the journey. Hiking up a grassy, slippery, steep hill in flip flops and socks is not something I’d usually recommend.

Halfway up, I was reconsidering how much I really wanted to see this tomb, but the views were pretty and dammit! I’d already hiked up half of it!!

We got to Loughcrew and the views were amazing.

One of the smaller circles

We were able to climb all over the structure, take tons of pictures and explore as much as we wanted. Here’s Jake standing on top of the tallest point around. Shocking, I know.

We couldn’t go in, because we didn’t a key. That was fine by me, we were able to see some of the carvings from the gate and I wasn’t all that keen on crawling through it.

Then we headed back down the hill. In general, going down was easier than going up, but was still not easy. Mostly because of the lack of traction on the bottom of my flip flops. I seriously contemplated just laying down on my side and rolling down the mountain. It seemed like it would be the quickest way down and require the least amount of energy.  The only thing that stopped me was that I’d get my red jacket all dirty. I love that jacket. Well and I was sure that I’d accidently roll my head right into a rock. I wasn’t worried so much about my head, mind you because I come from a family of rather hard headed people. We affectionately refer to it as the “Martinez Cement Head”.  My brother was hit in the head with an ATV tire (still attached to the ATV) and had track marks up his face. Was he hurt? Not one bit. I was in a low-speed car accident with a semi a few years ago. The air bag didn’t deploy and my forehead hit the steering wheel. I had a huge bump on my head but no injuries.  Side note: You know you’ve got a huge knot forming on your head when the paramedics go “OMG! Look at that knot! Are you SURE you’re okay?!” Anyway, back to the point of the story, I was afraid that I’d hit a rock with my head and split the rock open, thereby destroying some ancient something-or-other that’s stood for 5,000 years. It would have been a tragedy.

We got back to the car and decided that we’d putzed around enough and we should probably make a beeline for County Clare.  I had originally said we’d be at the hotel at 5, but considering it was already 3, I didn’t think we’d make it there until much later. There wasn’t much I could do about it though because we didn’t have any way to call and let them know we’d be late. We hit the road and spent another 30 minutes trying to figure out where we were and which direction we needed to head in.

We got to Carran (the village in Clare that we were staying in) right around 5pm and were shocked.  We went all the way across the map! If we’d had to do that drive in CA, it would have taken at least 4 hours! We checked into the Clare Rock hostel, got connected to the WiFi so we could let the folks back home know we were still alive and took a nap.

We woke up around 9 and had to scramble to find dinner. There was only one pub in the village so we randomly picked a direction and ended up in Corofin at Bofey Quinn’s.  Thankfully, they hadn’t shut down the kitchen yet so we sat down for some dinner and a Bulmers. For the record, I tried the Irish Lamb stew at about 6 different restaurants across the country and Bofey Quinn’s had the best.

Bofey Quinns has a “trad” music session twice a week and we happened to be there on one of those nights! So we ate our dinner while listening to locals play traditional Irish music.  After a few songs, the leader of the group came over and said hello to us.  The pub was full of locals and it was fairly obvious that we were the only tourists in the place, which was fine with us. We enjoyed just sitting there and soaking it all in. Anyway, he asked us if we sing. Uh, no. No way, no how, absolutely not.  He tried to convince us to sing but we smiled and told him that we would prefer just listening to them. So when he went back to the group, the played “Red River Valley”.  We certainly never expected to hear an old cowboy song being played in a pub in western Ireland!  Then there was a big influx of people and they presented one of the local men with a gift for his contributions to the local youth soccer team. There were a couple of speeches and lots of food being passed around. We were sitting a 4 seat table and the remaining two seats were quickly commandeered by the group which surprised us.  They offered us some food but we were still stuffed from dinner. We chatted a bit then decided to head back to our hotel. I waved to the music group leader as we left and thought that more than anything we’d seen so far, that seemed like authentic Ireland. Here’s a youtube video of a trad music session at Bofey Quinns.

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