Among The Wicklow Hills

May 9, 2010

22 April 2010

We woke up early to a day that couldn’t decide if it was going to be overcast or sunny, something that we would soon work out was not unique about the Irish weather.  We decided to get some washing done as this was day eight since we left Australia. Once that was done, we headed off to Rathdrum which was about a 15 minute drive from the cottage.  Chris had been suffering from a sore throat for days and it wasn’t getting any better.  We stopped at the Tourist info office, which was just a shed, and spoke to the women there about what to see in the area and also if she could point us in the direction of a doctor.  With the doctors visit done and some antibiotics for Chris we had a stroll around the town.  We came upon a little pub which was featured in two movies, “A Terrible Beauty” filmed in 1960 starring Robert Mitchum and Anne Hayward and “Michael Collins” filmed in 1996 starring Liam Neeson and Julia Roberts.  Rathdrum was an interesting little town that has suffered from the economic downturn.  There is a large redevelopment in the middle of town that has had no progress for two years, and looks like it will need to be totally demolished and started`again.

Leaving the town of Rathdrum we set off for the drive to Glendalough to see St Kevin’s Church and the Roundtower. We were a little surprised to find that the cemetery around the church was still active, although we did find out later that use of the cemetery is restricted to those that can prove they have a family connection to others buried there. We spent some time here taking in the atmosphere of the area and taking photos.  We strolled through the little gift shop there and then headed off on the scenic drive through the Wicklow Hills back to Avoca.  The trees are only just starting to bud and we could imagine how beautiful the area would be once the trees had all their greenery.

The owner of the cottage we were staying in told us not to forget to drop into  the old village store cum pub before we left.  She said that combined store and pub establishments were now dying out in Ireland and we should experience one.  We stopped into Ballinaclash, not far from Avoca and went into Phelan’s Pub which had a dividing wall.  One side was the little store and the other side was the pub.  The publican just walked along the counter from one side to the other serving people in both the store and the pub.

23 April 2010

Today we drove to Powerscourt Estate and Gardens about 3km from Enniskerry in Co Wicklow.  We watched a couple of audio visuals giving the history of the place over the years.  This is a beautiful old Estate that has been  restored over recent years.  The house was one of the grandest houses in Ireland before being destroyed by fire in 1974.  The ground floor has recently been restored and accommodates a number of small shops and Cafe’s.

The gardens, were quite spectacular … very Victorian and grand.  We especially liked the Pet Cemetery and the Pepperpot Tower with all it’s cannons.  This was all for show as there was no way the cannons could ever be used for defence. We could just imagine the fun that the children of the estate could have had playing in this area if they’d been allowed to.  Before we left, we visited the Avoca shop within the Estate.  This place makes the most incredible cheese soda bread among other things.  We have discovered that in Ireland soda bread is very popular and is what is mostly eaten.

Off again to finish off the day.  We drove into Wicklow to try buy a broadband stick for our laptop only to be told by the guy at 3 [who had spent years living in Australia] that he wouldn’t sell us one as fellow Aussies because they don’t really work that well through Ireland.  He told us to go to Maccas or to the major shopping centres which have free broadband.  This has been a bit of a bummer as we have not been as much in touch as we would have liked to have been.

While in Wicklow we visited the Black Castle ruins which were interesting but a little disappointing given we’d walked through bitterly cold winds to get there.  After a short walk along the Wicklow docks, we then drove on to Avondale House to see the house and gardens but it was closed.  Oh well can’t come back as we are moving onto Limerick tomorrow morning.


Ireland At Last

May 9, 2010

Finally on our way to Ireland on the Irish Ferry, The Oscar Wilde, a large ferry that had about 1350 people on board, some of which slept in the corridors outside the restaurants or in the bar area.  Everyone was trying to get home to Ireland.  After watching the Normandy coast line disappear we decided to go for a walk around the ferry.  We got to the main bar area and ran into Con and Angela who had set themselves up in a large corner for the night.   They had not been able to get a cabin or a reserved seat.  Luckily for them a couple that they met at the Hotel Ibis in Cherbourg had a cabin with four bunks and offered them a room for the night.  The Irish are a very caring and considerate people.  We had a drink with them and then set off to see the rest of the ferry.  We walked all the outside deck areas and covered most of the interior.  Then it was time to catch some sleep.  We returned to our cabin on Level 6 cabin 108.  A nice size cabin with two single beds, a desk area and a small ensuite.  We watched CNN News and called it a night.

Woke up in the morning to a beautiful sunrise and wandered down for some breakfast.  We ran into Con and Angela again in the cafe line.  We got some breakfast and sat chatting to them for a bit before Wandering around the outside decks taking some photos for a while.  It was lovely outside but the breeze was bone-chilling. We sought shelter from it and chatted with a guy who offered to take us to Dublin to get our car when we docked in Rosslare.  But we had already made some plans.  Before long it was lunch time so we went into the bistro.  Chris ordered the beef stroganoff and I ordered the tikka chicken.  The meals weren’t that good, they were too dry and chewy but hey it was nice and hot.  We went back up to our room to pack up our things before we had to depart the ferry.

It took us almost 40 minutes to get off the ferry.  When we got to Customs, they stopped us and took our passports, not sure why, then bought them back again after about 5 minutes.  The train that we were supposed to catch to Rathdrum had left at 2.20pm.  As we came down the ramp into the arrivals area we noticed that there was a Budget Car Rental place so we wandered over and asked if we could pick up our car that we were supposed to get in Dublin from here.  They said we could and to cut a long story short it cost us extra [40 euro per week and a 70 euro fee for changing dropoff city]. To top everything off, the car [a Volkswagon Golf] wouldn’t start.  Back to the counter again and, after checking themselves that the car wouldn’t start, they gave us a free upgrade to a Ford Focus diesel.  Gutsy little car and even fitted both our suitcases into the boot.

We headed off to Avoca to finally start our holiday in the first cottage we had booked.  Heather had told us that a good place to pick up some groceries was at Tesco in Arklow.  We did the grocery shop thing, which is the last thing we wanted to do but had to be done.  Took us a little bit of time to find the cottage but finally pulled up outside with Heather Lawson there to meet us with a tray of small cakes. We unpacked all our things and then cooked some dinner.  Very long day so off to bed early.

Ireland Accomodation Sorted

November 18, 2009

Well, stage one of the trip planning is done. We have sorted out our accommodation in Ireland.

Here’s the rundown….

15th April-17th April

We will be arriving in Dublin from Zurich at 10:35 am on 15th April. We will be staying at Egans Guesthouse in the suburb of Glasnevin. Egans Guesthouse is a 3 star B&B, just 15 mins walk north of Dublin City and comes fairly highly recommended by as well as many other travel sites. In many respects, its just a place for us to catch our breath after our 3 leg flight from Australia. We are only spending two nights here as most cottage rentals start on Saturday.

Wicklow Area
17th April-24th April

First stop after Dublin will be in Cottage No 2 in Avoca, County Wicklow. This cottage is located in the scenic valley of Avonbeg River, close to the Meeting of the Waters and the Vale of Avoca (location of Ballykissangel). Its apparently a very scenic area close to the Wicklow Mountains and Glendalough. This will be our base for a week, while we tour the areas in and around Counties Wicklow, Carlow, Waterford, Wexford and Kilkenny.

Cork Area
24th April-1st May

Next stop will be Mill House Cottage at CastleOliver Farm located between Cork and Limerick.

According to their website, Mill House Cottage is “a charming, enchanting and beautifully restored 17th Century Cottage, set in a very scenic location with
panoramic views of the Ballyhoura mountains. It offers a very safe environment and an exceptionally comfortable and excellent touring base for exploring Killarney, Kerry, Waterford, Tipperary and the South and West of Ireland.” Which is everything that we are planning on using it for.

Galway Area
1st May-8th May

From CastleOliver Farm, we will be moving on to Cottage 206 in Craughwell, County Galway. Located in a quiet farming village and surrounded by meadows yet only 14 miles from the centre of Galway City. 2 miles from the village of Craughwell, and close to the Dunkellin River, 6 miles from the sea and only 15 miles from The Burren in Co. Clare. This will be a perfect base for us to explore the West Coast of Ireland.

Northern Ireland
8th May-15th May

After Galway and the wilds of the West Coast, we will be moving onto the “wilds” of Northern Ireland. Our base here will be Stable Court just outside of Antrim on the shores of Lough Neagh. Stable Court’s close proximity to the main arterial routes provides easy access to Belfast and Northern Ireland’s major attractions, such as the famous North Antrim Coast and the Giant’s Causeway as well as the Midlands north of Dublin city.

15th May-17th May

We will return to Dublin from Antrim on 15th May. Once again, we will be staying at Egans Guesthouse. It will be somewhere familiar for us to re-gather our strength after our 4 weeks in Ireland before we embark on the next stage of our trip to London and beyond to mainland Europe.

For those with Google Earth, here is a KML file showing details of where the cottages are located.