Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ireland. Show all posts

Saturday, June 11, 2016

The Ireland-UK Trip: Day 8: Rig Return and Bunratty

This morning after breakfast, we went into Adare to wander around a bit as we didn't have to be at the Retroventures office till around 1030 AM to return the rig.

We visited the Holy Trinity Abbey Church near the town's visitor center.  We'd checked before but there'd been a wedding going on at the time you see.  The interior proved a bit plain so I'll spare you the pictures I took inside except for the stained glass windows:

 Holy Trinity Abbey Church

 Garden across the street from the Abbey

The time came though and after cruising by the Sprockets and Hubs shop to visit briefly with Elaine, the co-owner of Retroventures, we rode out the 9 final km to Retroventures HQ.

Chris Davidson, Elaine's husband and co-owner of Retroventures was there to welcome us back along with his father-in-law, Dave.  We unpacked Mary Kate and after a delightful chat over tea, we repacked our luggage and were taken to Bunratty by Chris.

But before we left, and in between mild rain fall, we got a final picture of Mary Kate and us:

Here's Chris, on the left and his FIL Dave; it was Dave who had the idea to add Royal Enfield motorcycles and sidecars to the rental lineup at Retroventures by the way.

 Chris and Dave

Bunratty is a small town with a castle, near the Shannon Airport where we are catching a flight tomorrow to Edinburgh, Scotland for the Scottish phase of our trip.  More to follow on that.

We left our bags with the reception desk since our room at the Bunratty Castle Hotel weren't ready for us yet and wandered over to the castle.  Quite the restored structure, and worth the visit so long as you don't mind claustrophobic stairways!  We timed it just right and got through the castle before several busloads of other tourists arrived and really filled up the place.

 View from the tower of Bunratty Castle,
not quite the highest point of the castle but high enough.
Below you can see the yellow building that is the
pub called "Durty Nelly's" where we had lunch.

Durty Nelly's is purported to be the oldest pub in Ireland,
but there's competing claims apparently.

 Bunratty Castle

Part of the Castle grounds is a Folk Village/Living History exhibit featuring several buildings showing the life conditions of the day.  Martha finally found herself an authentic thatch cottage to get a picture of her in front.

 The town center of the Folk Village featured the usual shops, 
but Martha selected the local Bobbie to get a picture with.

I think these horses are called Shetland Ponies.

By 3:00 PM we were tired and exhausted from all the walking so we returned to the hotel and checked into our room.  Later on, dinner was at The Creamery, conveniently located near the hotel.  The service, food and atmosphere were excellent by the way, a great last dinner in Ireland as spend one last night in the Emerald Isle before flying to Scotland tomorrow.

Mileage ridden in Ireland: 660 miles

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Ireland-UK Trip: Day 7 - The Rock of Cashel

We would wake in Killaloe to a gentle soft Irish rain, which would accompany us, off and on, through most of the day.

We left Killaloe with all our rain gear on, so of course it rained only sporadically and then only very light sprinkling.

We motored on down towards the Rock of Cashel near Tipperary.  But, there were a couple of stops to be made first and a new acquaintance to meet.

First stop was an impromptu one, we spotted a sign for Farney Castle and spied a large tower structure beyond the roadside trees.  We turned around and saw this castle which is someone's family home now.

Farney Castle, home to world famous knitting designer
porcelain artisan Cyril Cullen, his wife Margot and their 
four daughters who when younger were world-renowned harp players.

Martha bought herself a little memento, a small porcelain vase with four swans decorating it.  The swans refer to the Celtic legend of the four children of Lear who ended up transformed into swan.  It also reminded Martha of yesterday's near-attack by a swan.

Next stop was the Abbey of the Holy Cross, we arrived at the end of a Friday service and walked about the grounds for a bit.  It was a rather plain abbey, as abbeys go.

Abbey of the Holy Cross

As we were readying to leave, a gray car comes up to us, parks and the driver started talking to us. In a session of SDF (Sidecar Delay Factor as opposed to URAL delay factor), Declan and we talked about riding and motorcycles and related matters for several minutes.  He had spotted the sidecar rig you see, and just had to come over and chat.

Good talking to you Declan!

Soon enough, it was time for us to roll and for Declan to go about his errands as well.  We motored on further to Cashel and arrived into a busy town center where we wandered for a bit before locating the car park for the ruins of what used to be the seat of Irish Kings, and the cathedral built by Saint Patrick.

 The very impressive ruins on the Rock of Cashel, the
pointed tower is the oldest structure, followed by the square
tower house was the residence of the Archbishop of Tipperary
and the center structure is what remains of Saint Patrick's Cathedral.

 Celtic crosses on the grounds of the Rock of Cashel
 The nearby ruins of a Cisternian Order's Abbey
It's name was the Hore Abbey.

We joined a walking tour at 12:30 and learned a few interesting tidbits.  For instance, we learned that Saint Patrick managed to accidentally stab an Irish king in the foot with the pointed end of his staff, the king who was at the time being baptized by Saint Patrick, thought it all part of the baptism ritual and silently endured the pain.  He would later enjoy a reputation as a tough king, oblivious to pain because of this!

Then there was one of the archbishops, Myron was his name who managed to sire 47 children before dying at the ripe old age of 100.  He was a pluralist archbishop in that he started off as a Catholic, converted to Protestant then reverted to Catholic on his death bed.  Of the 47 children, not all were with his wives (he outlived the first one).  He was apparently known as the Scoundrel of Cashel!

Lunch was in the town of Cashel, within walking distance of the Rock of Cashel.

We left the site and rode around briefly, looking for a good vantage point to get a shot of the ruins from a distance.  We would end up finding two.  The first was next to the gated entrance to a farmer's pasture where a herd of cows was grazing.  The cows were quite curious about us.

The second spot was atop a small hill a small distance away from the first spot.  I had to stand on top of a nearby rock fence (precarious at best) to take the picture below.

Pictures accomplished, we meandered slowly through the busy tourist town again and took the highways to Tipperary where we got stuck in a slow moving traffic jam.  This traffic jam ate up whatever time we might have allotted to the city and we just simply escaped when we could.

The rest of the ride, to include a brief rain storm, was on national and M-level highways so we made good speed.  In fact, I got the Enfield up to 60 MPH!  That was, by the way, the fastest I could get her to go, with the throttle in the wide open position, wind at my back and on flat ground.

We navigated our way back to Adare and tonight's hotel with no issue and barely getting wet.  We turn in the rig tomorrow.  Sadness.

Tomorrow, after we return the rig, we'll be taken to Bunratty to overnight near the Shannon Airport.  Sunday, we fly to Edinburgh, Scotland where the Scotland Phase of the trip will begin.  

Stay tuned.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

The Ireland-UK Trip: Day 6 - Portumna and Killaloe/Ballina

It was time to start heading back in the direction of Limerick this morning.  We decided to skip the Westport portion of the planned itinerary and headed out at 9:30 AM out of Cong and took a mix of Regional, National and Main highways towards the town of Portumna on the north end of Lough Derg, the largest lake on the Shannon river apparently.

There was an interestingly laid out castle in Portumna, called Portumna castle, go figure.  The interior was no great shakes as work continues on its restoration but I really liked the way the ground and wall gates were laid out.

 One's first "arched" view of the castle, from the ticket booth 
office located at the first gate.

 A play with depth of fields, with Martha seemingly leaning
on the castle.

Located off to the side, a kitchen garden with
a variety of plants and flowers attracted Martha's attention.

It didn't take us long to tour the castle and available grounds, and soon after we left Portumna to ride down the west coast route around Lough Derg.  We'd hoped it be something similar to Sky Road near Clifden in that we'd be riding along with many views of the lake and its surrounding countryside but that was not to be.

The GPS route did have us divert from the main road onto
a narrow one lane road that climbed a bit to give us this
view of the lake.  There weren't many spots besides
this one to shoot the lake, mind you.

Back on R463, we came upon a designated stop point location per the GPS.  It was a parking lot located near a beach access point for the lake.  We got out to stretch our legs.

Martha decided she wanted close up pictures of a pair of white swans we saw with a flock of cygnets in tow:

As you can see, the male approached Martha thinking
she had some bread for him to eat.

The male in fact go so close it startled Martha
and she had to be rescued by a nearby 
gentleman who was doing the actual feeding
of the birds in the area!

Momma Swan and her cygnets

We left the beach and proceeded the remaining few miles to the towns of Ballina and Killaloe.  They're joined by a very narrow bridge that only allows traffic in one direction at a time, we could see it generating long queues on each side.  Our hotel was on the Ballina side of the bridge with a nice view of the harbor:

Looking from Ballina over to Killaloe

We had dinner on the Ballina side at the Italian restaurant rated #1 by Tripadvisor.  They were right, it was good food and good service!

After dinner it was time for a walk or mini-death march, depends which one of us you ask.

 St Flannan's Cathefral dominates the skyline but it
was closing when we arrived, so no pictures of the inside.

 A view of our hotel from the Killaloe side of the river,
can you see Mary Kate?

Why yes, I am smiling....really.

That's it for tonight, I am feeling more comfortable with riding the rig with the sidecar on the left side and on being on the left side of the road.  Our rental period is ending however in a couple of days, oh well.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

The Ireland-UK Trip Day 5: The Quiet Man Tour, Ballyglunin and Ashford Castle

This morning, after breakfast, we drove into town and signed up for the 10:30 Quiet Man Tour run by the Quiet Man Museum in Cong, Ireland.

 We had about 30 minutes before the start of the tour so Martha
sat at the meeting area next to the museum while I wandered around.
The museum is located on Circular Road in Cong.

 Present day Clarke's store, below the same store as shown in the movie

A shot of Mary Kate as she was parked near Pat Cohan's Bar

The tour guide was a gentleman by the name of Jerry(sp?) who really did a great job telling us about the shooting of the Quiet Man.  He would involve members of the tour group at each stop, making us laugh and smile as scenes were acted out by the tour member.

Martha and I even got picked to act out the scene with The Widow Talane and Red Will Danagher were sitting together on a one-horse cart, getting ready to start their courtship:

source: link

The tour guide didn't have a horse drawn cart so Martha and I sat on the low
wall there, while another tour member played the part of the 
cart driver: Michaeleen Oge Flynn

Though not a scene in the movie per se, the statue above is a good
location for a bit of fun by the tour guide and a couple of willing
tour members.

After the walking portion of the tour, where he pointed out a couple of locations I'd missed in previous walking around town, we all ended up inside the Quiet Man museum where further scene antics were acted out before the tour officially ended.  A good time was had by all and everyone was a good sport.

The bicycle used by John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara
to escape from their chaperone Michaleen Oge Flynn

source: LINK

Rock wall shown near the end of the Quiet Man movie, where folks
lined up to cheer on The Reverend Mr Playfair and his Bishop.
 Present day view at same location

 The house above was used in the movie as the residence for the 
Anglican Priest, Reverend Playfair.  It was also the scene where 
John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara "borrowed" the bicycle and escaped
from Michaeleen Oge Flynn's supervision.

source: link
Near the end of the climactic fight scene between the Sean Thorton
and Red Will Danagher characters, the stream that Danagher
got punched into by John Wayne.

One more shot of the cottage used during the movie for
the scenes involving John Wayne, Maureen O'Hara and the Reverend
Cyril Playfair character played by Arthur Shields.

After the tour, Martha suggested we drive over to Ballyglunin where the train station used in the movie was located.  Just short of an hour later, we located the train station and though no one was there, the gate was unlocked so we strolled in for some pictures.

 Mary Kate and Martha at the Train Station
Ballyglunin, Ireland

Screen capture of the train station showing the train arriving
which brought John Wayne to "Castletown"
 Yours truly, imitating the pose of the station master, 
pictured below from the movie

We headed back towards Cong and Ashford Castle for an afternoon nap, getting snacks at some gas station store along the way to tide us over till dinner.  I think this ends our efforts to find film locations from the movie, it was fun finding them and I think it'll make the next viewing of the movie by us that much more enjoyable.

Ashford Castle:

After a leisurely dinner at the lodge where we're staying, we donned helmets and rode on Mary Kate over to the grounds of Ashford Castle.  We'd obtained a pass that gave us permission to be on the grounds but not inside the castle as part of being guests at the lodge.

We rode right through the front gates, turning immediately to the right to take the path past the helipad and began to wander about the rear portions of the estate.

We went past the Falconry School buildings and came upon another Quiet Man filming location!  Yep, it was Red Will Danagher's house where Sean Thornton and Michealeen Oge Flynn came to initiate courting procedures with Mary Kate Danagher.

screen capture from the movie

 Squire Danagher's home

We then wandered down a path past the Old School building and ended up in the Ard Na Gaoithe Forest Area.  It led us down to the lake where got these two shots of nearby islands and far off mountains.

We then retraced our route back towards the side gate of the castle.  One half of the gate was locked so I couldn't go in with Mary Kate, the rig.  So, Martha and I walked in to take pictures.

We ended up walking up to the front gate towers.  I left Martha there to await my arrival on Mary Kate and for some more pictures.

I returned to the side Tower Gate and posed Mary Kate briefly:

 Mary Kate and I motored back towards the front of the castle and Martha took the following shots:

Next, I asked Martha to use the archway of the near tower gate to frame me as I paused on the bridge to the outer set of towers.  This was in order to replicate this scene from the Quiet Man Movie:

Vine-covered back in 1951 when the movie was made,
it's now bare stone again.

That's it for today!  We leave the Cong area tomorrow for Lough Derg to overnight in Killaloe.

Update: The next morning, we checked out Saint Mary's Church on the way out of town and found it was the same church used in the "Quiet Man" movie.  In this scene, Sean Thornton and Maureen O'Hara interact at the Holy Water fountain after the church service.