Thursday, May 30

Westport to Roundstone

On our way out of Westport on Monday we stopped at the Westport house which was the home of Grace O'Malley, the pirate queen. The large house overlooks the harbor and now also has a a small pirate themed park,which was not open. There was this great bronze statue of Grace steering her ship. We went to the Clew Bay heritage center to see if they could help us with the Mulroy Clan. They had some good general information, but they referred me to another center, which I can contact from home. 

On the road to Roundstone we went thru this valley called Dun Lough, where in 1849, 600 starving
 Farmers walked 12 miles from Louisberg to the Delphi Lodge hoping that their landlord would provide them some relief. He turned them away and 200 died alongside the road on the way back. The memorial commemorates their plight .

Next stop was Kylemore Abbey , built by Mitchell Henry in the 1860's for his wife. After WW I the Benedictine took over the abbey and ran a boarding school for girls. Now it is being restored. The gardens were not in bloom yet, and our guide book recommended not taking the tour, although there were plenty of tourists doing that. This was the first time we rand into a large number of tour busses.

 Back on the road again, we stopped to take some pictures of some local fishing boats drying out at low tide and then found a great beach where we stopped for a break.

We arrived in Roundstone around 3 pm and checked into our B&B The Ivy Rock House, took a short nap an off to dinner at the local pub O'Dowds. We find it interesting that it remains light to 10 pm. 

Tuesday, May 28

Westport, Ireland

We left Dublin on Saturday driving in our Hertz/Renault rent a car headed for 2 days in Westport, County Mayo, to do some hiking and visit the county from which my maternal great grandparents, Martin and Bridget Mulroy came from. I managed the roundabouts coming out of Dublin to the highway which took us across the island. We stopped in Longford for coffee and I was able to use their ATM. My card would not work in the Dublin airport, although Ellen's did. The photo above was taken on the street with the coffee shop. Left Longford, stopped briefly for lunch in Castlebar,
and arrived in Westport around 4 and checked into our B&B where we stayed to Monday morning. Ellen found us a nice small restaurant in Westport for dinner. Mango's is famous for their seafood, and their salmon was really great,

Sunday morning arrived a bit overcast with some sprinkles but dressed for hiking and headed off to see what Patrick looked like. When we got there the top was shrouded in cloud but we hiked up a ways to get a better view of Clew Bay.

Across the street from the mountain is a bronze statue commemorating the famine. It's quite stark with the skeletons in the rigging.

Our innkeeper suggested that if the mountain was really wet the we should take a ride around Achill island, the largest island in Ireland with great cliffs, no guard rails and great views of the Atlantic. Ellen, as our navigator plotted a great route around the island, counter clockwise, which put her up against the hills and me on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. Very barren with great rocks jutting up in the ocean.

 On the way up we saw a sign for a castle, so as we were headed back to Westport, we pulled onto a one lane road and found a square tower which turned out to be one of Grace OMalley's lookout castles. There were glass windows in it so it looked like it might have been used recently, although there is scaffolding going up one of the sides.

Sunday night we had a quiet dinner and then went to the Porter House for some traditional irish Music. We also were entertained by a little old man with long grey hair and beard who sang. Good pub times with good music. Monday we head for Roundstone.

Saturday, May 25

Ireland Vacation

We have arrived and are on tour in Dublin!! Left Boston Logan airport on Wednesday evening for a  flight across the pond which was uneventful, arriving about 8 AM. We could not check into the Ashling Hotel until 3 pm so we dropped off our bags and took the tram into O'Connell Street to grab our Hop on Hop off Tour bus. The picture above is of St. Patrick's Cathedral under grey skies. Our sunny arrival had turned to light afternoon sprinkles. Toured Dublin by bus checking out the places we wanted to see on Friday and were back in the Hotel for a nap by 3 pm. 

We went out for dinner in a restaurant called the Church, which was in an old Church, built in 1700 with lots of stained glass and old wood with a beautiful organ still in place, Guinness was married here in 1761, We ate on a balcony that ran down both sides of the church and the food was very good. 

Friday we started our tour with a visit to Trinity college, the oldest College in Ireland founded by Elizabeth I in 1562. It was an all male college util 1903 when women were finally allowed entrance. 

Above is the entrance gate to the Quad. A fourth year student in a brown frock coat gave us a tour of the grounds and then we stood in line to see the Book of Kells. We walked in through a small well illuminated exhibit of the Book, it's history and with views of various pages. The manuscript has been bound into 4 separate volumes, and at any given time 2 of the four gospels are on display. There were 2 text pages and 2 decorated pages. Ellen & I were both a little disappointed by the pictures that were on display. They were very detailed in dark browns and blacks with only a couple of small colored sections. The pages are only turned every 3 months.

No pictures allowed in the Treasury, but when you come out, you come into the 200 footlong main   chamber of the old library. The books are arranged by size from the top of the stacks to the bottom with the smallest at the top. Quite impressive and students can still check out books here.

We left Trinity and hoped on the bus for Christ Church Cathedral. It occupies the same site as the 1040 wooden church built by King Sitric in viking times and is the reputed tomb of Strongbow, the English  warlord who invaded Ireland. We had lunch in the Crypt and then on to St. Patricks Cathedral.

After a walk around the nave we hopped back on the bus for our last stop of the day the Guinness brewery at St. James Gate. The brewery tour no longer goes through the brewery but thru a modern display with videos and pictures describing the history and making of Stout. It is now not only made in Ireland but also under contract in 50 other countries. There are 3 varieties, one for Ireland and England, one for export to the US and Europe and the one with the most hops and alcohol to the Caribbean and Africa.

After the Guinness tour we walked back to our hotel for a rest before dinner at the Porterhouse, one of the oldest pubs in Dublin and now the home of the most craft beers. This ends our Dublin tour Saturday we depart for Westport and the western part of Ireland. It will be the first day driving in Ireland.