17 August 2005


we will break this up into two or more parts, and blog over a few days, so you can enjoy ireland in bits. yep, we chiselled bits off it as we went around. this first bit is a brick of turf (or peat, if you will).

WED03AUG: LONDON-KILKENNY: Margot generously offered to drive us to the bus station in Golder's Green, from which our bus left for Stansted airport at about 7am. Margot looked very endearing in her dishevelled hair and pyjamas and slippers. We got to Ireland easily... TOO EASILY. then i was deported at the gates and that's the end of the story... actually, we arrived at hertz car rental, having booked an automatic car, to be told the wait for the automatic cars might be anything between 30 minutes or... FIVE HOURS! but we could take a manual if we'd like (dan hadn't driven one for 11 years, and to insure an under 25 driver would be 200EUR)... we didn't really like, but we couldn't wait for 5 hours, so manual it was. we probably should have turned back when we spent about half an hour stalling and bunnyhopping around the hertz carpark. but we persisted in taking the stalling to the wider world - the motorway! at one point we just COULDN'T move forward, and a guy jumped out of his car and knocked on the window (later, dan told me that in london he would have been coming to punch us in the face!). with a big smile on his face, he said 'i think you're a turd'... actually he said 'i tink yoor en turd', which on closer inspection turned out to be 'i think you're in third' (we weren't, we were just shit drivers!). we eventually made it to killkenny, where we stayed in a hostel with a big sparkly banner in the loungeroom, which said something like 'JESUS CHRIST IS THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD'. Klassy. that evening we went to pub for my first pint of guinness in ireland (i have to say, it wasn't that great...). kilkenny is very pretty, but it is quite touristy, and feels a little bit put on (in the way that i found venice to be a McItaly, kilkenny is a bit of a McIreland.)

THUR04AUG: KILKENNY-WATERVILLE: went to kilkenny castle in the morning, for a stroll around the estate (it has the most vast expanse of lawn ever!) and down by the river. the footpath by the river was dotted at regular intervals with life bouys bearing the inscription 'A STOLEN BOUY, A STOLEN LIFE!'. we then hopped in the car and stalled our way to the rock of cashel (in cashel), which is a stone castle/cathedral/thing set on top of a limestone outcrop - it looks like it has grown from the hillside. went in and poked around with the masses of other tourists as the clouds burst, providing us with a slight deluge. to avoid the tourists and enjoy the deluge, we wandered down into the valley to the abbey we could see from the castle. this was much more fun than the rock, and we got to explore the ruins in peace and quiet, then get our shoes muddy on the walk back. excellent. our destination was waterville, a little town beside the sea on the ring of kerry, and as we got closer, the scenery began to get rather stunning (and because dan was getting better at driving, we were able to enjoy it!). huge rocky hillsides, which looked like abandoned quarries (they weren't) rose up out of sight into the low cloud, and our first glimpse of the sea came as the road almost fell into it! this scenery disappeared, however, into the thick white cloud. or was it mist? we learned, during our stay, that is is called fog, and it is very famous (!)... it was so thick that the road appeared a few metres ahead, and vanished just behind the car. we passed a pub claiming to have the most famous view in ireland (we laughed), and at one point a huge grey statue of the maria loomed up at us (we wouldn't have been surprised to learn this was the end of the earth). eventually we found our hostel - peter's place is like a share house, with a fire warming up the kitchen, and a cozy lounge, and beds in which i fell straight to sleep.

FRI05AUG: SKELLIG RING: sat by the sea in the crisp morning air, as the sun chased our shadows west into the bay. the sky was clear, the water blue... i think this was the first time i had ever looked west into the ocean, and it was bizarre to think that very little lay between us and that scariest of continents - america. peter called us in for breakfast in the garden, and fed us up with his homemade bread and scones, and oodles of tea and coffee. bliss. he also offered to organise our boat trip to the skelligs the next day, and gave us a map of the area and a suggested road trip for the day. we followed his instructions, and drove firstly around the bay to ballinskelligs for a look at the ruins of the friary there (so picturesque! right on the water, surrounded by graves, and celtic crosses). then as far as we could drive alond bolus head, the narrow road wending its way along the smooth hillside, past mazes of stone walls, ruins of old clochans (circular houses), through a resurrected village (where ruins and restored cottages line the road), and to a gate marked 'private'. at which point we turned around (dan showing all his skillz!) and drove back. as peter said to us - you haven't travelled a road unless you've gone both ways, because your perspective is completely different. the view out to the next headland was crystal clear, and the water was gleaming in the sun, and it couldn't have been more different from the day before! we then drove around the other side of the head before following the map over through port magee to valentia island. i could smell smoked chicken. the roads are lined with fuschias (the are not native, but grow like weeds! everywhere, with their pink and purple fuschiacality!). we went for a walk up to a disused signal tower at the end of the island, watched by sheep and cows, where we had the most amazing views back past puffin island (too far to see any puffins, annoyingly), out to the skellig islands, and along the amazing cliffs of valentia. i could still smell smoked chicken. what was it? we drove then to cahershiveen (spellling?) where the main road travels along a huge valley - i am SURE there used to be a glacier there, as it looks like it has been (yes, mum!) scoured out, and it's quite rounded. we also explored this valley in-depth as we tried to use our crappy big map to get around in it. we got lost(ish - we could still see where we wanted to go!) in the scrub, drove up a remote hill, chased a postal van hoping it would lead to civilisation, lost the postal van, found a random school, and eventually made it home!... that evening, waterville fired up (heehee!) with a travelling funfair. it was soooo cool and retro - like a 60s type affair. it had about 4 rides (that's including the dodgems and one in a giant tea-cup!), and fairy floss (which these chaps call candy floss). unfortunately dan wouldn't come on any of the rides with me (adults had to accompany children), so we had a little walk before retiring for the evening. we did figure out what the smell of smoked chicken was, though: the smell of turf fires!!! so now you know what peat smoke smells like!

and that's enough for today - the first three days of our irish shenanigans. i'll post some more tomorrow, or whenever i get around to it. london is sunny and warm. hilarious!

1 comment:

  1. hello!

    don't have time to read all this, but thought i'd leave a commment anyway. haaaaaaaallllllllloooooooooooo! i will see you sooooooooooooooon!!!!!