Wicklow Mountains and Last Days in Ireland

Trip Start Jun 27, 2010
Trip End Aug 19, 2010

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Where I stayed
Townhouse in Donnybrook

Flag of Ireland  , County Dublin,
Wednesday, August 11, 2010

8/11/2010 Wednesday
We left Galway by 11:00 and stopped in a small town on the way back for lunch.  We arrived back in Donnybrook, unpacked and checked our email.  We discuss what to do with the remaining three days and decided to go on a bus tour of the Wicklow Mountains and we called to make a reservation.  Fortunately, the man I spoke with asked if we wanted to be picked up and I said yes and he asked how close we are to the Burlington Hotel and we aren't far.  He asked us to be there at 9:25.  We weren't very hungry when the evening came and Skip went to the Donnybrook Fair grocery store and brought back a few items.  We watched TV and went to bed.

8/12/2010 Thursday
We got up and dressed, ate something and walked the mile or so to the Burlington.  We went inside and asked the concierge if the Wild Wicklow Tours' bus comes into the entrance or stops outside?  Her name was Shiela and I said that I spelled my name with "ei" and that her "ie" was unusual.  She said that her real name is Joanne and that in Gaelic it looks like Shiela and she wrote it down and I couldn't possibly spell it for you so we took her word for it.  Somehow, she ended up being called Shiela but her passport says Joanne and it has become very complicated.  Anyway, she was very cute and friendly and very helpful per usual of the Irish people.
Our bus came a little late, but it came and when we got on, the bus driver, over the microphone, asked us our names and where we came from in from of a full bus!  He then broke in to singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco"!  He was a very entraining driver and very Irish.
We started with driving through Dun Laoghaire (same place where we went for dinner last week) and the driver/guide Mike gave us time to look across the Dublin Harbor to Howth (rhymes with growth).  We drove by a tower where he told us that the reason there was a very small window above the door is where those inside would look out and if they saw danger, they would drop a hammer on the person standing below.  This is where the expression "under the hammer came from".   
We then stopped at Avoca Handweavers for coffee and a scone.  The setting was very nice with large trees.    It was a darling store and cafe with all sorts of things, including woven scarves plus lots of clothes, kitchen stuff, jams, etc.  All of the cafe tables had plastic tops with little things in them.  Ours had sewing items in them and the table across the aisle was of other items. 
The Wicklow Mountains were beautiful!  They are only 10 miles south of Dublin and very remote which made it handy for the rebels to hide out in 1798 which they did for many years.     We stopped at Sally Gap which is about 1,500' high -  the purplish color you see is heather and it sort of glows.   We went by a lough (lake) that is now owned by a member of the Guinness family and the white you see is the sand he brought to have a beach!      
We stopped for lunch in Laragh in a pub which was good, but not great.  The staff were not as friendly as most places.  Then we went for a short distance to Glenalough which means "valley of two lakes".  It is the location of a monastic settlement found by St. Kevin in the 6th century.     The tower stands 110' tall and functioned as a bell tower, storage loft, and beacon for pilgrims.  There are two lakes and we walked around the smaller lake and up to the larger one which was about 1.5 miles each way.       We met at the bus for the return trip to Donnybrook.  We asked the bus driver to drop us off at the Burlington Hotel and we went in for a drink and then walked home.

8/13/2010 Friday
  I (Skip) played my last round of golf and Elm Park Golf course.  I teed off early and had cool but clear day.  I finished my round, having the course master me rather than the other way round, and I had the opportunity to thank Seamus Green the golf pro for his hospitality and introductions to others during my four rounds on the course.  I highly recommend this course to anyone visiting this area for its challenge and the welcoming attitude to visitors. www.elmparkgolfclub.ie
  After a refreshing nap Sheila and I went to the Dumdrum Shopping Centre.  It still amazes me how large and diverse the center is and expansive.  We wanted to do some follow up shopping and we decided to go to dinner at Harvey Nichols Restaurant.  We were taken to a table overlooking the courtyard of the mall complex and had great service.  We ordered appetizers Salmon for Sheila and Cappuccino for me.  They were very delicious.  Sheila order the rib eye steak and I ordered the sirloin.  They were cooked to perfection (Blue) and the vegetables were also. We told one of the servers that the meal was one of the three best ones we have had in all of Ireland.  Much to our surprise we were sent a plate of small chocolate deserts compliments of the Chef.  This is truly a restaurant that we would recommend to anyone who is looking for a fantastic (and expensive) dinner.

8/14/2010 Saturday
We rose, had some breakfast and talked about what we need to do today.  Obviously, we have to pack and sort out our stuff.  We reserved a cab for the airport and will take a small trip in the area to do some last minute things. We decided to go out to a pub we had not been to yet call the Kileys of Donnybrook.  We walked to it and along the way I (Sheila) took this photo of some iron work that is used as a fence for many of the townhouses in our neighborhood.  We arrived at the pub and we given a table and menus.  There were quiet a few people there with a group in the back that were obviously playing some sort of game.  I  know it wasn't Bingo because we never heard numbers and letters called out or anyone saying "Bingo!"  I ordered the lamb shank that was okay with lots of potatoes, which I didn't eat, and many sliced carrots of which I had a few.   Skip had beef and shrimp (weird combination) pasta in a red sauce that he said was good. We went home and to bed.
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