Friday, 25 August 2017

25th August 2017 - Sligo - Galway - Dublin - Kilkeen (Hanna'sClose)

Friday 25th August 2017

53 degrees 58.564N
06 degrees 05.484W
Kilkeen, Mountains of Mourne, Ireland

Hanna's Close (Kilkeen)
Opportunities for blogging are few and far between.

Tonight (Thursday 24th) we are ensconced in a very cosy cottage in Hanna’s Close (built in 1640) at the base of the Mountains of Mourne with a bit of time but…no internet connection.  (Can’t complain; the internet has been
 fabulous everywhere so far.)

Sligo was great but very wet.  My new little red umbrella completely disintegrated under the deluge.

Sam and his barman
But we found our way to a nice little pub – dark, narrow, ancient – where the barman and his dog Sam encouraged us to stay.  We met nice people (Michael and Clare, full of newly-retired enthusiasm.)

The pub toilet had a quant option for...a wee chat!!
We walked back past the river to another pub where they had food and music.   These Irish rivers are amazing!  They gush and flow quite frantically!

The ancient Abbey was floodlit and gorgeous.

Next – Galway!  We stopped in Clifden for lunch and I was delighted to see a VERY stylish shop (*cough*) bearing my name!  Style Queen lives on!!

Galway was full of activity.  The Claddagh River was even more lively than the Corrib in Sligo.  We stayed in an actual hotel in the city centre – the Western, modest and pleasant.  With fabulous Irish breakfast included.

In the evening we walked into the Latin Quarter and were astounded to see hundreds of people out and about, eating, drinking, singing.  On a week night!  We went in and out of half a dozen restaurants then gave up…huge queues!  We ate in the Western and listened to a pleasant singer until I nearly fell asleep with my head on the table.

River Liffey with guardians
Dublin the next day.  The River Liffey is substantial but not as gushing as the other ones we have seen.  But Dublin itself is full of life.  LOTS of tourists!  (Including us…)

It is a very literary city.  We followed in the footsteps of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde and countless others.  I was very happy to see bookshops everywhere. Most of the caf├ęs also had shelves of books for selling or swapping.

We stayed at the Harding Hotel in the Temple Bar area.  A view of the cathedral from the window, and loud bells in the morning.

Darkey Kelly’s bar was attached to the hotel.  Pete had a Guinness while I checked out the menu…

There are lots of beautiful buildings.  Sunlight Chambers was my favourite – so graceful, lovely colours.

I also liked a dramatically ivy-coloured house along the river.  It looks fabulous but imagine what damage the encroaching ivy is doing to the stonework!

And yes of course we did a hop-on hop-off bus tour.  The driver did the commentary; he was great.  Very informative and very funny.  His Bono (U2) story:

What is the difference between God and Bono?  Wellyou don’t see God walking down the street thinking he is Bono…

The HUGE Guinness brewery
When we finished the tour he said.  If you enjoyed the trip, my name was Eamonn.  If you didn’t, it wasn’t.

Along the river is a series of sculptures entitled FAMINE.  They are horrific…People mill around happily, getting their photos taken…

Irish history is full of oppression, misery, hunger.

But…it all seems so very prosperous to me now!  There re a few desperate Eastern European and Syrian beggars on the streets.  But…not very many.  And the Irish all seem to live in houses like this:

Or like this one, all pebble-dashed.  (I am inordinately fascinated by pebble-dash.)

We only had 24 hours in Dublin but we saw a lot and enjoyed it all inordinately.  On Wednesday night we went to a Celtic Night at the Arlington Hotel.  This is MEGA touristy.  They serve 200-300 people each night, and put on a great floor show with panache and style.  LOVED the dancing.  The compere asked for a show of hands – where was everyone from? Well guess how many people from Ireland??  About two.  Of course!  But we enjoyed the whole touristy experience.

On our last morning we had a choice of where to go.  What had we seen from the top of the bus?  We could go anywhere (we had two hours after all)!  Pete said he had a choice but that he was sure it wouldn’t be mine.  So…go ahead and reveal your less than stellar desire??  My less than stellar desire was to go to Merrion Park and have a proper look at the delightful statue of Oscar Wilde, and then to cross the road and go to the National Gallery, to see the Irish art and the 1850-1950 European art collection.  And…guess what Pete’s No #1 choice was – the same!  Calloo callay, no conflict!

We had a lovely walk through the lively city and caught a glimpse of Oscar, reclining, amidst the tourists.

And the gallery was fabulous.  We were very lucky; the upper rooms were only opened nine weeks ago, after five years of renovation.  They are beautiful spacious and well lit.  Usually I get all fidgety and unhappy in a gallery; not enough air…Not so much here!  It was all just wonderful, peaceful yet stimulating.

I particular loved the 1500s carved wooden sculpture of the Virgin Mary, anguished but calm (Ligier Richier, Geneva.)

Pete made friends with one of the guides, Anthony, who had a wealth of knowledge.  He was very happy to be photographed in front of another Mary, in glorious blue robes.  I had asked how they had managed to preserve this wonderful colour over the centuries – it is crushed lapis lazuli! Worth more than gold and cherished by the popes.  (And served exclusively for the Roman Catholic Church of course.)

An apocryphal Irish story…Pete asked directions at the Glencolumbcille Woollen Mill, in a remote part of Donegal.  The owner took a shine to Pete and got chatting.  He said that in County Kerry someone once stopped to ask an old codger for directions to Belfast.  “Oh yes,” said the old codger. “I know how to get there. But if I were you, I wouldn’t be starting from here!

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