An update at last .... Ireland and other things

Well, to start with I have been seeing a lot of these 'Wordles' around on other blogs so I decided to make one for my blog. You put your blog link into the site and it views your blog and selects the most used words and makes you a cool picture. I love it! You can click it to make it larger.

So I have a lot I need to post! I know...this blogging our holidays is quite time consuming and once I leave it longer than a couple of weeks, I then dread doing it as things are harder to remember!

So I need to go back to around the 15th August....after our couple of days rest after our Paris trip, we headed to Ireland.

15th August, 08 - Depart for Dublin and head to Clint's familys home

This morning was rushed, we had to be at Stanstead Airport at 9am.....we caught a tube to Stratford then a coach to Stanstead Airport. Flights that depart from Stanstead are way cheaper than Heathrow, only problem is that it is a bit trickier airport to get to.

Our flight was with Ryan Air, a budget flight company, and we got there without a hastle. Flight was short, only 1 hour to Dublin. And we arrived in Dublin just after 12pm.

Once we arrived and collected our baggage we headed to look for Budget care rentals. We were hiring a car for 2 days and were driving to see and meet Clints family in Northern Ireland.

We picked up the car, a funky little Nissan Micra, and of we headed using the Nav Man - was our lifesaver!

It took us over 4 hours to get there, County Antrim, Toombridge to be exact. There we arrived at Clint's Pa's Nieces house Mairead's. She was very welcoming and lovely and looks just like an older version of Clints aunty Jenny!

We found her very easy to talk to and did not feel out of place a bit. That night she had arranged for her children and grandchildren to come and visit so we could meet them too. After meeting them, I can certainly see where Clint gets his red hair from!

They were lovely also and it was nice to hear stories from what they all remembered when they met Pa and Grandma.

16th August, 2008 - Visiting Pa's family home and meeting more family

Today Mairead took us for a little road trip. Our first stop was Toome, where we passed the local church, hotel etc, we passed the River Ban, the Elk Hotel - all of these places I am writing down now for the benefit of Grandma and Pa and the rest of the family.

Next we arrived in Ballaghy. And here we visited the chapel where Pa was baptised and saw the graves of Pa's brothers, parents, grandparents, etc. Its amazing to think of the connection Clint had with this place even though its half way across the world from where we live.

Anyway, we also went to Pa's family home, where a cousin around the same age as Clint now lives. This house has been in the family for years, and Pa's brother Tom also raised his family there, including his daughter Mairead.....who if you hadn't caught on, we were there visiting.

Took lots of pictures around the home and got to meet some more family. We met family of Mary, Pa's sisters, granddaughter Clare (who lives in Pa's family home) and her son Joe and we also met Maireads sister Carmel. So the day was filled with lots of talk about family history and times they all remembered, on the way home we met a cousin of Pa's Patsy and stayed there for a chat for a little while too.

We had a bit of a rest that afternoon - the weather was shocking and later that arvo went out for dinner with Mairead and paid another visit to her childrens homes.

What a big day!

17th August, 2008 - Leaving Maireads and heading to Dublin

Well it was time for us to head back to Dublin to prepare ourselves for our 10 day All Ireland tour that was to begin the next day.

We said a big thank you to Mairead for being so lovely and hospitable and taking complete strangers (well close enough) into her home. We loved seeing all the places that connected Pa to Ireland and were so grateful to her for taking the time out and showing us around.

So lucky me, turn to drive, and boy, after 6 months or something of not driving I must say I was LOVING it!!!! I never thought I would miss driving that much, but once I was in the car I realised I did.

The Nav Man decided to play up on us on the way back to Dublin and it took us ages to actually find the hostel and the Budget rental place where we had to return the car. Grrrrr..................

So once we returned the car, we walked to our Hostel and got settled. Then had a wander round Dublin, seeing what was around. We had an earlish night, as our tour with Paddy Wagon started the next day.

Paddy Wagon - 10 Day All Ireland Tour

Day 1 - Dublin to Derry - 18th August, 08

So we departed Paddys Palace in dublin approx. 8am. We met our tour guide Yvonne and met also all the people we were going to be spending the tour with. to what we did. On bus we drive through Phoenix Park where the Irish President lives and also has a huge cross - to signify Pope John Paul II's visit.

So we continued driving after that and passed places along the way significant to St Patrick. We made a stop at Monasterboice, a graveyard where there were lots of Celtic crosses.

We then continued on through the wet miserable weather to Drodheda, where we stopped for lunch and visited St Peter's cathedral where the preserved head of St Oliver Plunket - not too nice really! He was executed in 1681.

We continued driving and arrived at Derry (the name Irish Catholics give it, or London Derry as known by the British Irish - if that makes sense!).

This place, Derry was just amazing and a sure eye opener for anyone who has no idea of the troubles in Ireland within the last few decades. We had a walking tour of the town at 5pm this night by one of the Paddy Wagon crew. In our walk we saw a number of peace murals and also what they call a Peace wall. Which is basically a gigantic wall that separates the Irish Catholics and British Prodestants! This wall is huge with barbed wire and all along the top. I really dont get why its called a peace wall, I spose it does keep the peace because it separates them from each other. So basically behind this wall in Derry lived approx 600 prodestants.

View of Derry


Photo of the wall

Its amazing how people who all call themselves Irish can have such differing opinions and views, to the point where they need to have a wall between them to separate them.
Anyways enough about that for now. We had a great night in Derry at a pub called Paddy O'Donnells, great first taste of Irish Music, was a treat!

Day 2 - Derry to Belfast - 19th August, 08

Today was a fun day. To begin the day we went on a rope bridge, scrary stuff, called Carrick-a-rede Rope Bridge. It cost us approx £3 to cross, I was expecting it to be scary as, but it wasnt too bad, the wind didnt help though. This rope bridge was originally put in place to help fisherman across because the salmon was good over there.

Then we stopped at the smallest town in Ireland - Port Brennan, before heading to Giant's Causeway. On the way we also passed Dunns Castle - the smallest castle in Ireland.

Giants Causeway was very cool as there is an Irish Legend Tale to the formation of it. I copied this next part of text, from a website, for those who may be interested,

Legend has it that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn McCool) built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight his Scottish counterpart Benandonner. One version of the legend tells that Fionn fell asleep before he got to Scotland. When he did not arrive, the much larger Benandonner crossed the bridge looking for him. To protect Fionn, his wife Oonagh laid a blanket over him so he could pretend that he was actually their baby son. When Benandonner saw the size of the 'infant', he assumed the alleged father, Fionn, must be gigantic indeed. Therefore, Benandonner fled home in terror, ripping up the Causeway in case he was followed by Fionn.

So there you have it, the story of the Giants Causeway. Clint and I both thought it was pretty amazing!

On our way to Belfast we stopped for a photo of Dunn Luce Castle.

More on the bus then we arrived at our hostel in Belfast. Once we checked in we went straight on another tour - a black taxi tour. Basically Belfast is another area in Ireland where they is a big segregation between the Catholics and Prodestants. This tour takes you through the catholic areas and prodestant areas, showing many peace murals and the cab driver tells you the history as you go. Very interesting and again we saw more Peace Walls. Also learnt all about the Hunger Strikers too.

Black Taxi

Prodestant Houses and then Peace Murals

Catholic Murals and Peace Wall

Bobby Sands - One of the Hunger strikers and while in Jail was voted into the Parliament, good video about this is 'Some Mother's Son'

Hunger Strikers Mural

Peace Wall

After the tour we noticed there was a pub across the road from where we were staying. It as called the Tavern and it had a cage out the front, where patrons had to be buzzed in to enter the pub. Crazy and scary, yes, but intriguing, so a few of us from the tour decided to go in. There were a few locals inside, quite drunk and this place we found out was Irish Catholic, so there was to obviously be no mention of the Queen or Britain whilst in there. Otherwise God knows what would happen, its not like you can exit outta there quickly!

Anyways we ended up having a hilarious night with the locals, Harry being one of them and this lady - gee I have forgotten her name, but she was having warm whisky with sugar, and what I thought was water in between each, but turned out it was Vodka and Lemonade!! She was tanking it, but I must say and as can be seen in the photos - she did end up quite slurry and pissy.

Well she took a liking to the aussie boys we were with and at one stage told Clint his hair looked like it needed a comb, 'apparently' she was a hairdresser and proceeded to comb Clint's hair. His hair hasnt seen a comb since I have known him!! haha.....very hilarious and I had my SLR with me so I was able to take lots of action shots of it happening, evidence! That his hair has been brushed......even if it was by an intoxicated Irish lady!

Tim, Clint, Sofia and I - This is the cage entry to the pub!!

We ended up leaving when the pub closed, right after the local who was in their with us the whole night, started to proclaim that we all loved the Queen and made a gun with his fingers and ranted and raved for around 20 mins! Bit scary and weird.....Anyways headed to bed after that.

Day 3 - Belfast to Derry - 20th August, 08

We checked out later today 10am. We both woke up ok, but slightly seedy, well I was anyways! Today we had a rest stop an hour into our journey then drove approx. 40mins past Derry to Glenveagh National Park. There was a walk to Glenveagh Castle, just our luck it started bucketing down 10 mins into our 4km walk there.

We arrived at the Castle ready for our tour absolutely sopping wet, but oh well....we were still enjoying ourselves. The castle itself was donated by its 3rd owner Henry McIlhenny to the Irish and is now part of the National Trust. This Henry was very wealthy and the contents remained inside and on show, for tours to see. Not only did he donate the castle but also 33,000 acres of land and lake surrounding the castle! The inside of the castle was very American and had a theme of deer in furniture and decorations throughout. Apparently the owner had a 'thing' for deer and at the time he was living there was a couple of thousand wild deer on the land. Apparently this castle had famous guests visiting including Grace Kelly and Charlie Chaplin.

We departed the castle around 4.30pm and headed back into Derry. Clint and I ate dinner with some other people from the tour then headed to 'The Bogside Inn', a pub that were strong Irish Catholics. There were pictures everywhere around, so to gain a better understanding of the troubles in the area we went and checked it out.

Then we went back to Paddy ODonnels where we went our first night in Derry for more fun, and got a classic of a picture, what you think!?!?!?

Day 4 - Derry to Cong - 21st August, 08

We departed early this morning and headed into Euro zone. First stop on the way to Strandhill was Duncliff, this was so we could see the place of the famous Poet William Butler Yates and see where he is now buried.

We hopped back on the bus and stopped at a surfspot called Strandhill, which had a nice beach and the weather was reasonably nice too. After lunch we headed into Cong.

Cong is famous for it being the film place for the John Wayne movie 'The Quiet Man'. The town is so small and it is certainly hanging onto the fact that a movie was filmed there. I think the town would be unknown if it hadnt have been filmed there, which is sad, cos it truly was a lovely place.

When we got to Cong, Clint and I decided to walk down to the main street, take some pictures and check out what was there. We headed back to the hostel, cooked tea in the shared kitchen, then went back with people from the tour into the town for a few drinks. Was a lovely night!

Day 5 - Cong to Galway - 22nd August, 08

Today we left Cong and headed to Kylemore Abbey, Kylemore Abbey is the home of the Benedictine Order of Nuns in Ireland. It was a lovely place and another photo op.

After that we went to Croach Patrick. It is a mountain in the west of Ireland and an important site of pilgrimage. On "Reek Sunday", the last Sunday in July every year, over 15,000 pilgrims climb the mountain, barefeet, may I add! Clint made it the whole way up the mountain, I didnt, but the view was spectacular!!!!!!!!!!

We arrived in Galway later in the day, due to walk on mountain taking longer than tour guide planned, and headed to a pub with people from our tour for dinner and drinks. Was another nice night, the people we toured with, mainly aussies, were top people. Couldn't have asked for a better group of people to tour with really.

Day 6 - Galway to Annascaul - 23rd August, 08

Today we departed Galway early in the morning and headed towards Dunguaire Castle, was too wet to get out and take too many photos, did a quick photo op.

Then went to the Cliffs of Moher. Was a lovely scenic stop, despite the very strong wind. More photos...

Then headed to Annascaul and our Hostel called the Randy Leprachaun!! Cool hey! ha. Went to a pub for some live music and drinks, another top night.

Day 7 - Annascaul to Killarney - 24th August, 08

Today was a very scenic day with quite a bit of driving...We went around the coast at Dingle Penninsula.

This was a pub/hardware store!!!

Lots of stops and was a cruisy pressure to be anywhere at a particular time. Was nice and just what we needed at this stage of the tour. Cooked at the hostel, had a couple of drinks and went to bed earlier than usual.

Day 8 - Killarney - Ring of Kerry - Killarney - 25th August, 08

Early start this morning, 9am. This morning we had options horse riding or horse and cart tour of Killarney National Park, I did the cart, Clint rode the horse.
The park itself was quite nice, but I didnt feel it warranted running tours through it, but anyway, it was something to do.

At 11am we were back infront of the hostel ready to begin the Ring of Kerry trip. This was more scenic touring......nice though.

We arrived back in the hostel and found an awesome pub that did 3 drinks for 10 euro......There was a great Irish band called the Celtics playing, they had the most amazing voices, then a great cover band played after that.....was a big night!

Day 9 - Killarney to Cork - 26th August, 08

Late departure today.....went to this cute harbour town and walked around a nice Farmers Market.

Then we headed towards the Blarney Castle, getting geared up to kiss the Blarney Stone. When people talked about doing this I imagined it being at the top of a cliff ..... never realised it was at the top of a castle. Was a little bit scary but ok.

Here are some photos of the Castle and grounds, and some unflattering ones of us hanging down to kiss the stone.
We then headed to Cork and had a quiet night.

A friend found cool! Its real, I promise!

Day 10 - Cork to Dublin - 27th August, 08

Last day of tour. Quite a while was spent in the bus. We arrived in Dublin early arvo and headed straight towards the Guiness Brewery Tour.
Was cool to see how the larger was made, and we both tried some, I'm not a fan at all, and Clint wasnt too impressed either!!!

The Museum

Trying Guiness, blah is all I can say!

28th August, 08

Departed Dublin after Lunch for London.....arrived back in London early arvo. Sad to be finished our travels, but glad for the rest!

Since the trip we have headed back to work.
I am now teaching 6-7 year olds (year 2 here, called year 1 at home) and enjoying it. I am finding it quite a challenge as these children are quite needy. But nice to finally have my own class.

Clint headed back to work and is currently working for a New Zealand company, who has all New Zealand and Aussie workers, so although he is working a lot, its great that he is working with a good bunch of guys.

I had to say goodbye to Beth, who I went to uni with and who I would sometimes catch up with. I caught up with her and celebrated her bday - and leaving - by going to Les Miserables. I thought it was ok, but not as good as I hoped. It is meant to be a very popular musical too.

Umm.....what else?

A couple of weekends ago we had a really nice Sunday.....we went to the Thames Festival. Basically along all of Southbank in London there was entertainment, market stalls and food. We spent the whole day walking along, listening to live music and checking out the stalls, it was so nice.

We got some nice pictures of London too, including Tower Bridge raising, hadnt seen that before!

Well thats bout all thats been happening......We have another trip to plan for the last week in October. I have one weeks holiday from school, not sure where to go yet, would love some ideas for somewhere to go in October that could be done in a week.

Congrats to all those who were named in the top 50 for the Scrapbooking Masters, cant wait to hear who gets in. Sorry to those who didnt get in, by the looks of who has gotten in the competition was very tough!

On a scrapping note, I'm missing it heaps, been over 7 months since I last scrapped. And the products out at the moment are just great, the new Sassafras, the new Basic Grey lines, the Sheer Delights from KI ..... I could go on and on....... I'm still checking all my fave blogs, it gives me that fix! Bloglines is my best friend!

I'm trying to take up crochet in the meantime....bit fiddly.

Post again soon, I hope!

Take care


Anonymous said...

Dear raquel, Thank you for showing us your tour of Ireland. the scenery looks stunning, I am very jealous. I must say I am shocked to hear how bad it is in ireland. i can't believe in this day & age people have so little tolerance for each others beliefs. Glad to see you are looking so well & happy. we love you heaps & look forward to your next update love a. Rhonda u.Glenn & boys.

Belinda Venables said...

Oh Raquel,

Each time I read about your adventures I get so I wish that it was me! I never have done anything like you're doing!

Sounds like it's loads of fun! :D

Love that wordle thing! I had to make one myself I've put it on my blog - love it!


Anonymous said...

Hi Clint & Raq...It is well worth the wait on ya updates, u do such a great job, the pics r great and sounds like u had a great time,looks like Clint loved getting his hair (not)..dont think i would argue with a drunk Irish
Love ya, be safe, talk soon Helen & Steve and kidsxxxooo

Anonymous said...

It was great to read your blog & it brought back a lot of memories of where we went when in Ireland. Great to hear that you enjoyed catching up with the rellies also. Now you know what I mean?t when I said you would fit in in Ireland with the red hair Clint.Pleased you had a great tour. Love Grandma.