The Emerald Isle.

Trip Start Nov 27, 2012
Trip End May 18, 2013

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Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Thursday, March 14, 2013

The next part of our journey saw us catching the ferry from Holyhead in Wales across the Irish Sea to Dublin, Ireland.  Thankfully, the sea on this particular day was calm and the crossing was uneventful. We had earlier decided to catch the 'fast' ferry – it only takes one hour and fifty minutes to do the crossing – just in case we encountered rough seas. It was, in fact, a really comfortable way of travelling but we were well aware the reputation which this particular stretch of water has.

Our first night in Dublin saw us having some dinner and just getting acquainted with the place. We only had one night here at this point. As we have to return here to catch the ferry again back to England, we wanted to quickly get into our driving tour of Ireland. Of course we visited Temple Bar – the part of town which has a lot of the pubs, clubs and restaurants. It was exactly as we had expected and read about. True, it does have a really good vibe to it, with traditional Irish music coming from most of the bars, and it was nicely crowded, but it is very ‘touristy’ with a lot of tacky souvenir shops.  We were quite surprised with how small the main part of Dublin was, but exploration of any of its other attractions would have to wait until the end of our Irish adventure.

Next morning, we hit the road again in search of the city of Limerick. This was to be where we would spend the next three nights – including St Patrick’s Day. Limerick is a fairly large town. The Shannon river flows through it and it also has St John’s castle (which unfortunately for us was closed for renovations at the time of our visit.) The people are very friendly but we felt that it did not feel like the ‘real’ Ireland to us. In the lead up to this part of the trip, people had remarked to us at how beautiful Ireland is. This is what we wanted to see. We began to learn that, for us, the beauty of Ireland is in what you encounter as you drive along its country roads. The beauty is in its natural scenery, and, for Steve, in its magnificent golf courses.  

As such, after exploring the town on foot, we decided to drive out of town to spend our day. This drive took us to Bunratty Castle, through the nearby town of Ennis, to the Cliffs of Moher. These are an absolute must see for anyone going to visit this country. They rise up out of the Atlantic Ocean and spread for about 8 kilometres on the western seaboard of County Clare. From the cliffs, you can see the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. We were so fortunate to visit them on a clear day, with very little wind. They have been featured in many movies and TV shows – eg: Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince - and Ireland’s largest surfing wave is at the base of the cliffs.

St Patrick’s Day is, of course, a big event in this country so the next day saw us standing in the cold conditions and watching the parade, which really was a lot of fun. After Dublin, Limerick stages the second biggest parade in Ireland. A lot of those marching were involved in local community groups and there must have been about 50,000 people lining the main street, shouting encouragement and applauding, and, naturally wearing all manner of green clothing! Like a lot of Europe and the U.K, the Irish have been hit hard by the recession, but this did not stop the party atmosphere. The afternoon was spent in one of the many local pubs in town. We met a local couple and their young daughter, who joined our table and it felt like we had made some new friends by the time they left to go home (quite a few hours later).

As we prepare to leave Limerick with many fond memories, we are heading next to a small place called Waterville. Steve has chosen this as the place for his first golf game in Ireland. On the way there, we intend to drive around the ‘Ring of Kerry’ for lots of beautiful sight seeing along the way. Let’s hope that the fine weather conditions prevail!
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