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Irish Coastguard Helicopter at Hook Head

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The Irish Coast Guard Helicopter (or at least one of them) was out and about while we were on Hook Head last week.  I was getting back into the car having taken a few photos of the lighthouse, when I heard the ‘copter approaching.

Thinking I could grab a few photos of it, I practically galloped across the rocks in my attempt not to miss out on shooting the massive red and white beast!

Coastguard Helicopter

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Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

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Bunratty Castle and Folk Park is a beautiful recreation of Ireland during medieval times,  and a super place for both young and old to spend a few hours, or an entire day.  I’m sure I must have brought the girls there about a dozen times over the years, but we never grow tired of it.

Spread over 26 acres, the Folk Park includes examples of lots of different types of cottages from Ireland long ago, as well as a village with fully operational shops and a pub/restaurant.

Loop Head House

Loop Head House

Loop Head House

‘Loop Head House is a replica of a house of a fishing-farming family in West Clare.  The thatch is roped down to protect it against the Atlantic Gales.’ Continue reading

Inis Mór, The Aran Islands, and Doolin

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I’ve been neglecting blogging for a while.  I’m putting it down to the good weather we’ve been having.  What’s seldom needs to be appreciated and I’m trying to spend as much time as I can outside rather than cooped up, inside, in front of the computer.

I’ve no shortage of things to blog about though. 🙂

Blogger’s Meet Up

Nine of us bloggers met up in Jim’s Country Kitchen in Portlaoise for lunch and a chat a couple of weeks ago.  I really enjoyed putting faces to names and finally getting to meet the ladies behind the blogs that I’ve been reading.  In attendance there was:

Lily

Granymar

Ellie

Cathy

Marian

Lorna

Marie

Steph

Thanks to Lily for organising it.  The venue was perfect and the food was delicious. I’m only sorry that I had to leave early to go to Dublin that day.

Aran Islands

I had the opportunity to spend some time on Inis Mór last week with two friends from Tipperary Institute (Sarah and Amanda).  We left Clonmel on Thursday morning and arrived in Doolin at lunchtime where we booked our tickets for a ride on the Happy Hooker.

The Happy Hooker (part of www.doolinferries.com) is based right on Doolin pier and is good value for money at €20 return to Inis Mór.  Students can avail of a special offer of €15 for a return ticket.

While it presents good value and is a ‘fun’ boat trip, there are some factors that should be taken into account.

  • The boat trip that we were told would take seventy minutes ended up being considerably longer, due to the Hooker pulling in at Inis Óirr to pick up a few extra clients.  (We used the 45 minute stopover to have lunch in Tigh Ruairi’s.)  However, on the plus side, on the day we were leaving Inis Mór, we didn’t have to wait for the Hooker.  Our ticket permitted us to take another boat (the Jack B Galway) back to Doolin.
  • Depending on the weather it can be a bumpy ride across the Atlantic.  We had a rocky journey from Doolin to Inis Óirr and many passengers were nauseous and sick.  I wouldn’t recommend it for elderly people or those who may be unsteady on their feet.

If you don’t have good sea legs and the weather is bad, or if you have your trip planned rigidly around a specific time frame, then the ferry from Rosaveel or an Aer Arann flight from Connemara airport may be better options.  Personally, I like Doolin – it’s a bit of craic and an adventure – although I’m hoping to try out Aer Arann at the end of the month with Ally and Bee.  Funds will dictate!

Day 1

By the time we got to Inis Mór on the Thursday it was just after four o’clock.  Our B&B – The Dormer House – was located just five minutes walk from the pier which was great as we were all lugging heavy bags.  I don’t know what we all had in our luggage but none of us were travelling particularly light.  I’d expected a bit of a hike to the B&B so I’d left the wheels at home and brought a rucksack.  Last time I’ll be doing that!

We checked in, ditched the kitchen sinks, had a brief look around the crafts shops, and got down to business in Joe Mac’s pub where we started the evening off with a couple of drinks.   Then it was back to the B&B to get changed before going to dinner in the Bayview House, and then on to The American Bar for urm…..aperitifs.  I’m afraid I bailed out early after just one drink and went back to the B&B.  All the early mornings that week must, finally, have caught up with me.  I was practically falling asleep at the table.  The other two soldiered on until just after two in the morning.

Day 2

Kilronan

On Friday morning I got up early with Sarah and we walked around Kilronan taking a few photos. I got a few tips from her (she being a  ‘very excellent’ photographer) on using the settings on the camera but I’m hopeless, really.  I can’t resist flicking the dial to the automatic settings. I’m making an effort though.

Inis Mor - Kilronan Pier

 

Supermacs on Inis Mor

Supermacs on Inis Mór

We had breakfast back at the B&B and the three of us went down to the pier to suss out how we’d get around the island.  The weather, which had been miserable the day before, had brightened up considerably.  It was just 11AM and there were lots of tour buses and horses and traps down at the pier.  The trap rides were €25 per person which we thought was a bit steep.  The bus tours were €10 per person  – much more reasonable.

Patrick Mullins Tours, Aran Islands

We were lucky to come across Patrick Mullins who took us on a bus tour.  He was an absolute character and very accommodating as regards giving us time for photos along the way.  He dropped us at Dun Aonghasa, collected us when we were ready, and took us on a tour of the island, giving us lots of info as he drove.  I’d highly recommend him.

Dun Aonghasa

It turned out to be a magnificent morning and there was plenty of opportunity to take a few photos.

Cafe at Dun Aonghasa

Cafe at dun Aonghasa

Dun Aonghasa - Craft Village

Dun Aonghasa – Craft Village

Dun Aonghasa

Dun Aonghasa

Leprechaun Cottage, Inis Mor

Leprechaun Cottage, Inis Mor

The Seven Churches

The Seven Churches

Through the window

Through the Window 2

Bodhran lessons in the Inis Mór Hotel

After the tour, Patrick dropped us straight to the Inis Mór Hotel where we planned to take a bodhran lesson.  We’d seen an ad in Joe Mac’s the night before and thought it would be fun to do.  I’ve owned a bodhran for the last four or five years and haven’t played it so I thought it would be a great chance to finally change that.

Bodhran

My Bodhran

This was definitely one of the highlights of our trip.  Brian who was teaching us managed to get us all playing a bit and we’d a good laugh.  Seventy minutes of a lesson for €20 per person was good value too. If we’d been there an extra day we’d have taken another lesson and Amanda reckoned she might have bought a bodhran too.  We could have had some interesting duelling sessions in college then. 🙂

Pier House Restaurant

We had booked the Pier House Restaurant for dinner on the Friday night.  It lashed rain but we donned our frocks and sandals anyway and prepared to get drenched as we made our way there from the B&B.

They have a great selection of fish dishes and I debated whether or not to get the oysters as I’ve never had them before.  In the end I decided I was much too hungry to order something that I mightn’t like.  I ordered goat’s cheese in parma ham to start with and scallops for the main course.  Amanda ordered the same (goat’s cheese minus the parma ham though).  I can’t remember what Sarah ordered even though I sampled it and remember it being nice.  Everything was lovely if a little expensive.

The Mulkerrin Brothers

We were off then to The American Bar for a glimpse of The Mulkerrin Brothers (Eamonn, Sean and Padraig).  Having no tv here I’d never seen them before and I was won over by them. They were absolutely fanTASTic!! I did a search on YouTube for them this morning and found this link.  I can only imagine the pride their parents must feel because I was practically bawling my eyes out watching this.

We spent the rest of the evening in Joe Mac’s where we met up with a couple who were staying in the B&B we were staying in.

Day 3

Our last morning on the Island.  I took more photos in the morning before breakfast.

Hen

I can’t figure out if the guy in the picture above is thinking that I’m another mad tourist who’d photograph anything, or if he’s wondering should he take the camera from me and fire it out to sea.

Jack B Galway

As I said, we didn’t have to wait around for the Happy Hooker to collect us.  The crew on the Jack B said they’d take us.  Just as well, because we were half an hour out to sea when we passed the Happy Hooker on its way to Inis Mór.

All in all, a great couple of days, despite the weather turning so bad.  I am already making plans to return.