Friday, June 30, 2023

Ireland - Wicklow to Kinsale

Our first 2 weeks on the Emerald Isle has been a blast.    And a real eye-opener.    I think the Irish might just be the nicest people on earth!   Or at least perhaps the friendliest people on that part of earth that we have visited thus far.    While it certainly doesn't hurt to walk around with a 5 month old fur-ball of a puppy, it seems like we cannot walk very far down a street without meeting someone and spending 15 minutes or so in conversation.
Our travels thus far are shown on the map below which comes from our clickable "where are we today?" link over on the right hand side of the page.

The map that you can generate on the blog will actually show you everywhere that we have been.  Including our day trips.    More precisely - it shows anywhere that my phone has been since the phone reports our position to the blog every 5 minutes.  24/7

Since arriving in Rosslare on the ferry we traveled north to Wicklow and spent a week.
Then we moved south to just north of Waterford (think Waterford Crystal) and spent 4 nights in the country on the Hook Peninsula.
Finally - from there we moved further south and west along the coast to Kinsale, where we have been for the last 6 days.   We will be here for 1 more and then will move on to our next stop on Sunday.

Our travels since arriving in Ireland

While at our lovely accommodations on the farm in Wicklow, we made a few day trips.   First on the list was a ride into the Wicklow Mountains National Park, up to the intersection called "Sally Gap".   Along the way we stopped to admire the beautiful Lough Tay.   Down in the valley at the end of the lake is an old estate.   Once owned by the Guiness Family, it was sold a few years back to some silent investors.

Lough Tay

Lovebirds at Lough Tay
A bit further up the road towards Sally Gap we stopped at the bridge that was used in the movie:  PS I Love You.    I did not see the movie but Kate did.    We looked at the clips in the movie to confirm this was indeed the real spot.

Below the bridge

The bridge as was in the movie

After reaching Sally Gap we turned left (south) and traveled along Old Military Road.   
The roads here were built by the British between 1800 and 1809 in the aftermath of the 1798 Irish Rebellion.   The Irish were inspired by the success of the American Revolution a decade or so earlier, and tried to throw the English out of Ireland.    After the rebellion was put down, the roads were built to provide better access for the English troops to flush out the remaining rebels who were hiding in the mountains.

Old Military Rd in Wicklow Mountains National Park
The views above and below could be Alaska or the Yukon.   It looks similar.

Old Military Rd in Wicklow Mountains National Park

Another day we took a trip up to the seaside town of Bray.   

Unlike the US beaches, many of the beaches here are rounded stone.

Later that day we headed for lunch to the town of Laragh, and the Wicklow Heather Restaurant.   Poor Lucy seems out of sorts since the loss of Gracie and shes not been up to walks, so we've been leaving her home for a bit to let her rest up.    Fortunately, Lucy has always been one to seek her own space so we feel this is a good choice for her.   Hopefully as the time passes, she will snap out of her funk and perk up.

Annie eyes the liver pate'

Our last night on the farm said goodbye with a pretty nice sunset.

Our next stop was about 90 min south, so we had some time to kill before we could check in a 3pm so on the way we made a side trip to the John F Kennedy Arboretum.

Built by the Irish Republic, it consists of over 600 acres on a hill overlooking the ancestral Kennedy home.  It was completed in 1968 in tribute to JFK after his untimely death in 1963 just months after his visit to Ireland.   It was said that his visit to Ireland was a pivotal moment in the Republic's history, one that awakened the modern Irish spirit that continues to this day.

Walking the trails in the JFK Arboretum

The arboretum contains over 5,000 types of trees and shrubs from all over the world including over 1,000 types of rhododendrons.

We took both dogs for walks thru the park, but again, Lucy was dragging so we had to cut it a bit shorter than we would have preferred.    After walking the Arboretum, we headed up to the top of a nearby hill that gave us a 360° view of the surrounding countryside.

Pup on a rock

Views from the top
By now it was about 3pm and we were only 30 minutes from our AirBnb, so we headed down the little roads out onto the Hook Peninsula.  Along the way we passed this church and I had to stop and get a shot of it - it just thought the scene was so pretty.

Templetown Church, County Wexford

Our first day on the Hook Peninsula saw us heading about 30 minutes to visit The Tintern Abbey and the adjacent Colclough Walled Gardens.    The abbey dates to about 1200 and was built by William Marshall, a soldier/statesman as a result of a vow he made while on a boat nearby and caught in a storm.

The abbey was taken by Henry VIII during the dissolution of the monasteries (sound familiar?) and given to Anthony Colclough a soldier in his army.   It remained in the Colclough family until 1959 when it was given to the state.     The walled garden was built in the 1800's and contains not only flowers but fruits and vegetables.    It is 2.5 acres in size.

Inside The walled garden

Passage between gardens

View of Tintern Abbey

Parts of the roof of the abbey is gone.    On the walls you can see the stones sticking out what were used to hold the floor beams.   One of the neat things about the ruins of these old buildings is that it allows a better understand as to how they were built.

Inside the abbey - note the stones sticking out of the walls

Below, you can see a beam laying across the stones along the wall.   On top of that all the floor joists are placed.

There was also a display of how the walls were plastered, or paneled with oak.

Just about a mile from our house was the Hook Lighthouse.

Across the bay is the City of Waterford, home of Waterford Crystal.

Our AirBnb had a nice glass conservatory

Plus a comfy combo living/dining/kitchen

And a super comfy/cozy double bed.     Snuggle time.

Our 3 nights were up, and it was time to move on to Kinsale, about 3 hrs away.   With time to kill, we made a side trip across the bay to Waterford since it was on the way.

To get there we took the ferry, which was closer, rather than the bridge.

The Passage East Car Ferry

And even in Ireland - there's a Circle K nearby.

We parked along the waterfront and strolled about the area with the dogs.

Waterford has some real nice pedestrian areas right near the waterfront.  Lots of nice outside cafes, there were alot of families enjoying the warm sunny Sunday morning.

Next on our agenda, is the beautiful harbor town on Kinsale.    We arrived here on Sunday and will spend the week.    It is a pretty town with colorful buildings, and a seafaring heritage.

1 block from our place.

Street leading down to the water

We are staying in a B&B that has now been converted into rental apartments.   We are a ground floor 2-bedroom unit.   In the photo below, we are the blue and red buildings on the right.   An archway leads into a courtyard where we can park the car, so the off street parking is a huge bonus.

Named The Old Presbytery, it was previously  housing for the nearby church priests until it was sold to the current owners and converted.

Our place up on the right

Colorful Kinsale Streets

Kinsale Harbor

From our place it's only a 3 minute walk down to the harbor.

Kinsale Harbor

Grocery store with fruit and veg vendor next door.

One day we took a drive out to the Kinsale 911 Garden of Remembrance.
The Plaque below tells the story.   

Of the 343 trees planted for the fallen FDNY firemen, one was for a friend of Kates, Captain Bill Burke.

Bill Burke's Memorial Tree

It's a beautiful plot of land with a gorgeous view.

View into the valley from the remembrance garden
Walking thru the garden was a bit of an emotional experience.

So, on an upnote, our next fun destination was to the Moving Statue of Virgin Mary in Ballinspittle.
People say the statue moves.   I cannot attest to that.   Nothing moved while we were there.

Being a nice sunny day - nothing could be finer than a nice drive in the country.   Along the coast, Ireland has established a network of roads, some very small, that linked together form the Wild Atlantic Way.

On our trip I plan to drive a bunch of it, but since it is about 1,500 miles, winding along all the nooks and crannies, there will plenty left for future trips.

Like a postcard

The coast at Galley Head

Driving out to Galley Head, we stopped to see the rugged rocks pictured above.   To walk to the spot we had to traverse over a long grassy stretch.    The grass was so soft and spongy, it was like walking on a big soft mattress.    Would make for an amazing bed in a tent.   No pad required.

Kate with the Galley Head light behind her

The coast just west of Galley Head

Another stop was the Drombeg Stone Circle.    Dating back to about 1100BC, this is one of many such stone circles to be found on the island.

Drombeg Stone Circle

I just liked this pretty church as we drove by, so I had to stop and take a photo.

Another day trip was to Cork City.    About 30 min or so from here.
We walked along the wonderful pedestrian mall and met many people who wanted to come over and pet the pup.

We went to the English Market.  Opened in 1788, it was called the English Market to distinguish it from the Irish Market a few blocks away.   It has been noted as the finest covered market in the UK and Ireland.

It is also notable for its 1800's style of architecture.

We did some reprovisioning while there

Kate joking with the vendor at the bakery stall

Next we made a quick side trip to Blackrock Castle & Observatory.
We could not get in the castle, but we were able to get into the forecourt where they have a gift shop and resturant.

Whew...   that was a long post.    Alot of stuff crammed into the last 10 days or so.  No wonder the days are flying by.

Well we have 1 more day here in Kinsale, then we will drive more of the Wild Atlantic Way, cross a few mountain passes, and take the long route to our next destination, the colorful town of Kenmare.

See ya there.