And so the journey to the Part of Ireland we did not make it too was about to begin. Having collected Big-L from the Wolves match on Friday night we headed to Holyhead to catch the 2:30am ferry to Dublin in the knowledge that I'd booked a cabin for a small amount of sleep.
For the break of day we headed to the giddy heights of the Howth peninsula, where we also found a great cafe to serve us a Great traditional Breakfast with an entertaining waiter.
Our first stop was a bit further north to see the ancient tombs that are dotted around this area and the famous of them all Newgrange where something magical happens inside the tomb on the winter solest each December for a mere 19 minutes.
From here we head west after stopping at a couple of other places of interest - Hill of Tara - Trim Castel. On the far West of Ireland was our first base for a couple of days. The wonderful Westport and just as good Clew Bay Hotel.
Our first day consisted of heading west around the scenic coastal way all the way to Galway where our journey ended earlier in the year. From Westport we visited Aghagower before finally escaping its grasp of the R335 and the silver strand a piece of beech said to be better than the Key West beach in Florida, only without the crowds. From the beach heading further south you come across one of the more scenic drive parts - the Doo Lough Pass.
We stop at a waterfall just at the end of the Erriff River.
On to Cliffden and yet another beach and yet another prize specimen stone to collect. We follow the R341 haunted road to Roundstone whereafter the scenery becomes more baron.
And when you get to Golam head you think why why why would anyone want to live here. From the rocks you can see the Aran Islands mind!
For perhaps our cheapest meal of the whole of holiday we make our way to McDonaghs once more for prize fresh fish and chips! ahh nice nice nice.
A few hours latter we are back in picturesque Westport and ready for a few beers in the local pub and to watch Octopussy.
the next day we pack the car and head Norf via Newprot and Market Day (which a lot of sheep were being sold and I mean a lot) towards Achill Island. We drove around the southern coastal road along the cliffs and eventually up to the Third highest point on the mountain Minaun at 464 meters. Well I say we, we drove up it as far as you could then I climbed the last bit to what it was at the top leaving Big-L in the car. Well I should have known better because as you can see after a hard climb up there I was greeted by yet another Mary!
At the far end of the island on a very remote leg is Keem Bay. Tranquil waters and silver sand and time for another piece of rock!
When we eventually leave the island we head north towards Kellybeggs . However just south of Sligo we take a diversion to Knocknaree. Now Big-L didn't want to do this 45 minute climb either but he did do it. And there was no Mary at the top. Nope in fact under this pipe of rocks lies someone much more interesting (unless your religious I guess).
We stay in the Bay View Hotel which at first we think we are the only guests. But at breakfast time there are another 3 people in the hotel.
We make our way to Slevie Cliffs the highest in Europe and yet Big-L would not go up to the top. Its mighty windy and cold but Nack gets his jumper off climbers as far as is needed in his Tee shirt while the profeesinal walkers seem to have lots of layers on and waterproofs. What a bunch of puffs.
As we head north we come along another 'hotspot' the Glenesh Pass on the way to Ardara.
And just before Ardara we take a diversion to another waterfall and beach so big, so quiet and so beautiful. To the one side are some caves and here hid some locals when an army came. However when night fell one of there laterns was seen. All but one person was slaughtered. Before we worked out where the caves where we had come across a sign which had caves and an arrow. As the wind changed direction so did the direction the caves where in! Another great Irish sign!
Which is how we probably went off route slightly to see the statue of liberty! Yes in Ireland!
The next day we stay in Derry and after a tour of the area and the 'war zone'. The center of the town is walled, completely and properly no ruins here. And for a town you will find most of the major high street towns non existant - as due to the fighting they said they would never return. however on the outskirts of the town have been built retail parks where they now reside as mega stores!
Once the tour of Derry was done we did the tour of Inishowen - the most north peninsula of Ireland and southern Ireland at that. In fact to get to the most northerly bit we even drove down a track for around a mile - mile and a half. You could say we where on our own.
The thing was the offical most northly point you can get to by tarmac road and a cliff edge dotted with stone messages. Head east enough and eventaully you'll come across the Wee House too.
From Derry we headed East through Limavady, Coleraine, Portstewart, Portrush and onto our first major stop the Bushmills Distillary. Not sure LEs was impressed by the final product and can't say I'm much of whicky drinker either!
However it warmed me up inside enought to take the cliff side walk to the Giants Causeway even when it said it was to dangerous to due to high winds. In fact we just hadn't seen the sign until we return to the vistors center. Now you can either buy a souvenire of the giants causeway or just chip some off and take it home, but that would would naughty wouldn't it.
We move further East to Carrickarade Rope Bridge which as its name suggests should be a rope bridge but as Nack spotted the two main 'ropes' under the wooden boards seem to be mde of steel?!?!?! Still this did mean it was safe for Les to cross and yes I did send him across first. Its not that high if you don't look down!
We make it to Belfast and our home for 3 nights, the most famous hotel in Belfast - for being bombed that is. Well positioned with two bars of its own and two across the street, one being the famous Crown Saloon Bar.
The one thing worth seeing and doing in Belfast is the tour of the City Hall. There are a couple of other things to see as well such as the Albert Clock - think Big Ben then a lot smaller, now imagine it tilted to one side like the tower of Pizza.....
The Ring of Hope is well worth a look and the Big Fish is bigger than the story behind it. If you havn't eaten then Saturdays 'Farmers' market is just the ticket followed by an education visit to the Lagan Look Out Center which explains how they eventually hid all that smelly decomposing mud at the bottom of the river. There is also a modern Catherdal to feast your eyes on and if you wander down the right streets you can come along so rather intresting graffitte such as 'The Bastards burned us out but we will be back!' I nearly forgot to mention Samson and Galiath.
Eventually it was time to come home and so the Stena line took us to Scotlands Stranmraer. I love a bit of touring where next?