Saturday 4 June 2022
We had managed to get a Ryan Air flight out of the local Garons Airport, which is about 3kms to the southeast of us. It also seems to be a good spot to keep a few redundant aircraft, both military and civilian.
We took off and climbed out to the east before heading northwest to Irsland. We were both really surprised at the variety of farming and horticulture that surrounds us in this part of France. There are large areas of flooding irrigation, using the water from the many canals that run through the area, mostly from the Rhone River. There are huge areas of salt farms, some with their bright pink ponds caused by a lichen in the water. One lot of paddocks was laid out like slices of pizza. We will have to hire a light aircraft one day and have a good look at the area from the air.
On the approach into Dublin we were greeted with large industrial plants and well laid out new housing developments on the city fringe.
Landing in Dublin the hostess opened the door on the Boeing 737.800. With no ladder there she pushed a couple of buttons and a ladder slid out from the fuselage; up came the hand rails and with a few bits and pieces added we were able to alight the aircraft and walk into the terminal and through immigration. After a long walk we reached the rental car counter, and from there a van took us to the rental car compound. Interestingly Sylvia usually books with Hertz but they wanted a thousand euros a day for a medium sized car. We shopped around and got a nice car for that price for 3 days.
Arriving in Dublin via the tunnel that is 10 euros during rush hour and 3 euros the rest of the time, we checked into the Marker hotel on the edge of one of the many canals. Having checked into the hotel and it still being early afternoon we took a stroll and along the way decided we should try out a hop on hop of bus. Booking one online we waited at the stop for the next arrival in 15 mins. Now the thing about these buses is you have to be able to hop on in order to hop off. Eventually along came the bus but the bugger didn’t even stop for us so we never did get to experience the hop on hop off bit. Sylvia made a phone call and got the normal ‘the driver should not have done that; if you want a refund you have to email us!!’ The next one was an hour away so we decided to take a walk.
There are some really nice buildings in Dublin, built from both brick and stone. Whilst many have a nice conforming kind of uniformity about them some really stand out. We passed the university and took a brief look inside. It is across the road from the Bank Of Ireland building, which is rather grand.
Not too far down the road we entered the local castle, formerly the home of the Viceroy of Ireland when it was ruled by the British. On the 3 May 1921 the country was divided into two self-governing polities. After a war in 1922 southern Ireland became an independent country while Northern Ireland decided to stay part of the UK.
It is thought that the in 10500BC first of an early version of humans set foot in Ireland. Since then there has been a lot of water under a lot of bridges and many wars over territory going back hundreds of years with Henery VIII declaring himself king of Ireland back in 1541. Like many European countries they have had lots of wars including the first Desmond rebellion, the second Desmond rebellion and the nine year war just to mention a few.
The state rooms of the castle (which was all we were allowed to see) were quite grand with large rooms, one in particular displaying the flags of the Knights of St Patrick, of which there were quite a few. Like many castles they had lots of old religious art on the walls and ceilings. In a couple of rooms they must have been a bit short of old paintings so they have some rather bad modern art in them. The castle is built around a courtyard with a nice clock or watch tower off to one side, and attached is a cathedral.
We taxied back to the hotel and spent a quiet relaxing evening.
Sunday 5 June 2022.
We headed north on the M1 motorway for a while but, like many motorways, they have planted trees along each side to stop people like me looking at the scenery and not concentrating on the road. After 20 minutes we took an off ramp and headed out into the country, initially only to strike hawthorn hedges growing on each side of the well-kept narrow roads. Things improved and we were treated to some nice scenery and the odd glimpse of the ocean as we headed north up the coast to the town of Carlingford. There we met up with Lorraine, whom we had met while she was holidaying in Singapore a few years ago. We enjoyed a nice lunch at the Bay Tree Restaurant.
Carlingford was originally a fishing village being on the Carlingford Lough, which is deep enough for large ships to navigate up to a port at Warrenpoint at the top of the Lough. At one point we were talking about the IRA troubles in Northern Ireland as Lorraine live sin the North. She said she was really too young to remember the “troubles” as they are referred to here. We had noted both in Dublin and on the way here that many buildings are painted different and bright colours. Blocks of brick buildings all seem to have different coloured doors. Probably quite handy if you have a falling out with your girlfriend, just paint your door a different colour so they can’t find your house again!
After a very nice lunch we continued our journey north heading up the lough and back onto the M1 towards Belfast. My cousin Molly in London, who we visited recently, had informed me that in Ireland in their mother’s house had been a sword and a Gurkha knife that had belonged to my grand father. She and her sister Anne had recently sold the house and the people that had bought it were holding onto the items if I wanted to pick them up. They lived in a little village on the coast just northeast of Belfast, now our destination.
There is no sign of a border between the north and the south any more. However as we cruised along at the speed limit of 120kph, the little circle on the navigation system changed to 70. Sylvia pointed out that I was going a little fast, as was the rest of the traffic. I suggested that it may be miles an hour it was meaning and after Sylvia checked with google sure enough it was. We continued for some time, passing through Belfast. The roads are really clearly marked and well maintained.
Soon we were in Carrickfergus and collecting the sword that these nice people had kept for me. There was a lighthouse further down the coast so we went to check it out along with some brightly coloured buildings at the waterfront. Many Union Jack Flags were on display int he north celebrating the Queen’s Jubilee.
The trip back to Dublin was an easy one. Avoiding the tunnel we passed some interesting buildings and lots of different coloured doors.
Monday 6 June 2022
Waking early to a leak coming through the ceiling in the bathroom, we called reception and left them to it, heading down for another great breakfast. Soon we were on the motorway heading west. The trees once again obscured the view of the surroundings apart from the odd glance of some very green and prosperous-looking farmland.
A couple of hours down the road we saw a turn off to Limerick so we turned off to check it out. There was not a lot to see, just another little town.
We continued out of the town towards the cliffs of Moher it wasn’t too long before we arrived, passing a rugged looking golf course and some small villages where the surrounding paddocks were divided up by stone walls. We pulled into the car park, paying a small fee to see the most visited place in Ireland. A short walk from the carpark we came across a group of shops dug into the hillside. Alongside, also in the hill, is an information centre. We headed inside and had a look through. The exit lead us to a track up to the cliffs.
The cliffs are indeed well worth a look; the rock seems like it is stacked like shist or slate. There is a small, castle-type building, which serves as a lookout with its narrow spiral staircase. We climbed up and had a look. A large charolais bull grazed in the paddock nearby. Hundreds of people were spread out along the cliff tops enjoying the views. There are a a couple of islands in the distance and some lighthouse-type buildings on the peninsular to the right.
I saw a sign on one of the slab stone walls saying the buskers here have to make their instrument’s out of wood as the salt air rusts metal parts. A man sat against the wall sheltering from the wind playing an accordion. I am not sure it was all wood; it looked like some plastic had gone into its construction.
Back in the car, we followed the coast north on a narrow, well-maintained country road, passing many recently build holiday houses and the odd village along the way. At one point to our right were hills made of what looked like solid rock but with stone fences dividing them into paddocks; maybe there is a rare breed of rock-eating sheep in this part of the world. Just east of Galway we hit the M6 motorway, which made for a steady, easy drive back to Dublin.
Arriving back at the hotel they relocated us to another nice room where we spent the rest of the evening relaxing.
Tuesday 7 June 2022.
We woke at 4am to an almost cold shower, needing to be at the airport early to catch our Ryan Air flight back to France. Reflecting on Ireland we got the impression that is is one of the more prosperous countries in Europe with nice cars on good roads and no sign of beggars in the streets or people at the traffic lights with old bits of cardboard asking for money.