McKinney Gypsy Caravan

One part travel blog. One part nerdy history lesson.

Category: Ireland (page 1 of 2)

Our first two weeks in Ireland

Sorry it’s taken a couple weeks for me to get this up… but I’ve had trouble catching some wifi. ha But more on that later.

We arrived back in Dublin from Sweden and drove out to Tulsk to meet Phyllis, a sweet older lady who had a cute little “apartment” to rent. They converted a garage into a cute little one bedroom house from her mother in law years ago and now they rent it. I found it on AirBnb and with it being only 15 minutes from our purchased house, it was perfect.

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The windows bump out a couple of feet and Norah has taken this over as her play area… and I think it’s perfect! Is it just a Norah thing…or an all little kid thing… that they love small confined spaces? Norah will crawl into her closet under the shelves and watch her iPad. ha weirdo.

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Our first trip to “town” was to go to Roscommon to open a bank account and get groceries at Tesco- the Ireland version of Walmart, sort of… at least as close as it gets.
We parked in the square downtown… (which I’d come to learn throughout the next two weeks was completely coincidental that we found a spot. haha) This is the old Gaol (jail). Built in the 1700s, used as a jail, a leprosy hospital and later a mental asylum in the late 1800s. Of note, Ireland’s only hangwoman worked here, Lady Betty. This lady put the Capital C in Crazy. Apparently, she was a destitute widow, with one living child. Her son left for America at a young age in the late 1700s to escape her crazy temper… She was slightly insane and a recluse. She lived by herself for years and years in Roscommon in a tiny little shack. 20 some years later, a man came to her door and asked to pay for her bed for the night because the inn was full. She, being slightly insane, stewed and thought about this seemingly wealthy man who had taken her bed and how terrible it was that he had so much while she had so little… so she took a knife and killed him in his sleep.

Going through his effects she found letters addressed to her…and quickly realized she had murdered her own son, who was thought to have not disclosed who he was in an attempt to see if she had changed for the better over the years. She was immediately taken to jail and sentenced to death at the gallows. The morning she was to die, the sheriff paraded the inmates into the square to await their public hanging, only to find out that the hangman had taken ill. With a restless crowd anxious from some hangin’, Betty called out to the sheriff that she would perform the hangings. The sheriff was stunned and agreed. (probably just for the entertainment factor)…but it turns out- she was just cold and heartless enough to pull it off-executing up to 20 people that day. She was so cold and emotionless, that when the hangman died shortly after, the sheriff appointed her the hangwoman of the jail and she lived inside the rest of her life. Β Oscar Wilde’s father recorded that she was so heartless, she used to draw portraits of all the people she hanged with a burnt stick on her wall and she also was in charge of the flogging of the prisoners, earning her the nickname “the woman from hell”.

So…there’s that. lol Now its building full of commercial businesses and some apartments… including the worst Italian restaurant I’ve ever eaten at. ha Seriously. It was terrible.

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Turns out you have to make an appointment to open a bank account in Ireland, so we made an appointment for the next day. Stopped by Vodafone and 3, two cell phone providers, trying to get internet. We cant get broadband internet at our house (although I’m pretty confident there will be fiber there within the next couple of years through Imagine.ie- a fiber company that is targeting rural Ireland to get the most rural areas high speed access. Sadly, this should include us! haha), which leaves us with 4G SIM card internet. There is no “unlimited” SIM 4G internet, but with a contract, you can get 250GB a month for around $70. While I can use more than that by streaming Netflix or Amazon…and letting Norah do Youtube.. if we don’t stream TV and monitor the munchkin’s Youtube time, this should be fine… plus, we WILL have unlimited data on our Irish cell phones… so 250GB for the TV and computer should do just fine, even if it makes me grumble a little to have to monitor my usage. I have had quite the issue getting a contract so far, though. First they said I had to have a bank account in Ireland because they needed the IBAN number. So I got that. (which was no easy feat either) Then it was, no we’ll need the debit card… Well, those wont show up for another week. So they said they could use a utility bill as proof of address. So, I called PrePay Power, which is what is connected at this house, and got a letter with address verification. But they said PrePay power doesn’t work- has to be a billing statement. grrrr.

So, for now, until my bank card comes in- I have prepaid internet. $20 per 7.5GB haha but I’m connected!

PrePay Power brings me to another strange thing here. Instead of the electric company sending you a bill every month, you have the option of prepaying your electricity. For me, it doesn’t really matter, but I think this would be really good for someone living on a small fixed income…or really terrible at managing money. You can top up when you want to…and the box in your house tells you how much credit you still have remaining, it also has options where you can view your usage by hour, day, week or month… I talked to the company and they said they never shut the electric off for $0 balance during nights or weekends, and they even have a feature of a $5 IOU where you can press a code and “owe” them $5 of electricity if you cant top up but you’re at zero. All pretty neat. Also, because they get payment for 100% of the electricity they give, they have the lowest kilowatt hour rate in Ireland. Something like .17/hr …so I went ahead and activated it here. So for now I literally have no Irish “bills”. Cell and internet is prepaid, water is free and electric is prepaid. I think that’s pretty awesome!

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Back to Roscommon:

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We did get to witness a traditional funeral coming through town. I thought they looked Greek or Sicilian, but Kegan thinks they were Irish… People were walking alongside the hearse very slowly through town, I’m guessing on their way to the graveyard. Sure did back up traffic for 20 minutes…. I have no shame, I snapped a photo- for anthropological purposes… πŸ™‚

After our trip to the grocery ($106 by the way…. like half of US prices for the same type stuff…), we went back to the rental. I had been promising Norah some makeup, so we did that. Green eyeshadow, purple eyeliner and gold lipstick.

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Dog became a muddy country dog for the first time. haha

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Kegan tried to start a fire, which proved difficult since the turf they left us was still a little wet and the wood stove isn’t really ventilated properly. (we tried the fire for a couple nights and woke up freezing so we just decided to go with paying for the kerosene fuel oil that runs the radiators. ha)

I know that its supposed to be terrible weather here….and we’ve only been here two weeks- but there is an awful lot of sunshine for a place that is supposed to be miserable. haha

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Kegan and Norah and dog all walked up and down the road here and met some friends, including a horse that the lady said we could have if we wanted it. haha

img_3184Also, a Swiss guy named Bruno who gave Norah chocolate. Unfortunately, no one on the road here is giving away miniature donkeys…which is what I want. haha Phyllis- dead serious- told me a pair of donkeys would be LOVELY in the front yard… that if I wanted to get them, she would gladly let me keep them here. hahahaha these Irish people are the BEST in the world. hands down.

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After hanging around a couple days with no internet (seriously guys… I was having some mega withdrawal. not even reliable cell data. or cable television! haha) and exploring a couple area towns to see what stores and such were there, it was time to tackle the barn at our place (Sept 16) since our container was arriving from the states on the 19th.

The current owners didn’t exactly clean it up for us. They took a couple things they wanted but left the rest of the crap.

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We’re running a fine line right now, because our sale still hasn’t closed…but the owners gave us the keys, said come and go as we please, and didn’t even want a lease agreement or anything. So we know they are done here and full expect us to be proceeding as if we own it. However, because legally we don’t own it until Ireland issues the owners a “grant of probate” allowing them to actually fully sell this property on behalf of the estate of the late owner, we don’t even want to remove anything from the property yet. So, we just piled everything that was in the shed into the back 1/4 of it, allowing us to put all of our belongings in when they arrive.

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And for those keeping track, we made a cash offer at auction back in May for this property. It is now September and we’re still waiting on this clearance from the government. The law office expects it “any day” but has expected it every day for over 2 months. But…what do you do? Our lawyer told us it could take 3-4 months… so we’re just now on the tail end of that….so from his estimates- it’s about time to hear back. I figure I’d wait until October to make a stink. We have tons of exterior work to do, like fixing up 2 years of overgrown grass… and planning the improvements for the house and ordering the items, so that when we do get clearance to close, we can immediately begin.

We cleaned up the barn nicely, so we were ready for Monday.

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Me, on Monday that week:

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We talked to Phyllis at our rental house and said that if she knew of anyone looking for some cash work on the side, we could use some help on Monday unloading our shipping container. She volunteered her son. haha We didn’t know what to expect, but on Monday, her son and her husband showed up to check out the house and help us. Turns out they are plumbers and electricians- husband has been doing it for 40 years! Life just works out sometimes. So, while we waited for the truck driver, they turned our water on for us. Willie, the husband, said the house had great potential… and I think he meant it, because he later told Phyllis the same thing. haha Β Also, they climbed in the attic, looked around, noted that it was full of insulation and totally dry which was the one last thing we were really worried about was finding rotting trusses or mold…but it honestly looked like a model house up there.

I had wanted a plumber on site when we turned the water on, so that if we ran into busted pipes or anything, we could address the issue immediately…and good thing we had one! The owners had removed a washing machine from the kitchen…and left the uncapped pipe wide open. So, the second the water was on, it was pouring out into the kitchen floor. doh. but it was quickly addressed and its not like we cared about the floors or anything anyway. haha

Turns out Dominic, the son, has a 4 year old son himself that cant wait to get together and play with Norah. I’m pretty excited about that as well! Life just has a way of working out. He even said to let him know before we hire out anything in the house and he’ll make sure we get in touch with good people for fair prices. Gotta know someone in a new area… so this was just a perfect encounter. Plus, he brought a dolly (a “trolley” here) which came in MIGHTY useful, because the semi couldn’t get up to our building like we had planned… and we ended up trucking EVERYTHING across the yard into the barn.

This is how far we had to move everything.

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But we’re lucky he made it THAT far…He spent 20 minutes just trying to fit and get the momentum to get up the hill. Kegan had to advise him on shortening the bed, make the corner. Stop, lengthen the bed, climb the hill, then shorten the bed for unloading again. Luckily, our man Aiden wasn’t a quitter. He did it and viola, we were at least in somewhat of a position to unload.

We had some curious cows come to check us out.

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2.5 hours later, it was done. And our nice clean barn was full of everything we own. haha

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Dog found the first familiar smell in a long time and was loving it.

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We tried to go ahead and take the sofa in the house, only to find that it wouldn’t fit through the doors!! We thought about taking out a window and passing it through, but truth is… the room is really too small as well haha so….Dominic got a free couch! ha (and paid… we paid him, too, of course)

We headed home that night, but exhausted we didn’t want to cook, so we picked up kebabs from SuperBites in Elphin. They have fish and chips, indian food, pizza, burgers, and kebabs…and they’re open until midnight most nights…and they deliver ALMOST to our house, so I’m sure for an extra 5 bucksΒ we COULD get delivery at our house…which really make me giggle. haha And the food was goooood.

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**Full disclosure, these photos are from multiple meals over the last two weeks. We did not eat all of this food for dinner one night. haha

Since our stuff had arrived and the house is still not ours, the only thing left we can really safely do is exterior yard work. So begins the weed-eating and the raking. Kegan spent a good hour looking for his earplugs and safety glasses, but couldn’t find them. So he borrowed Norah’s from a science kit. haha i guess better than nothing.

**Note the hair as well. One of Norah’s hair clips to hold it back out of his face while it’s in the awkward growing out phase. I think he’s going for a viking braid or something. Who knows at this point. Why not? Who’s he gotta impress? haha

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Kegan got his Husqvarna weed-eater out that hadn’t been started in over 5 years. Since we lived in Louisville…and he started it up in 3 pulls! Those Swedes know how to make some tools.

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Started the day on the backyard behind the house.

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We discovered a sidewalk that goes all the way to the turf and wood shed. Who knew?? lol so that was a cool discovery.

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Also, figured out why there was rain seeping in on the concrete in the back bedroom…. this lovely pile of turf bags. The guy had been buying bags of turf, using them inside, then tossing the mesh bags out the bedroom window into a pile for at least a couple years. The pile wasn’t allowing for any drainage. So, first homeowner problem solved.

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I have a feeling this wont be the last eye-roll we give on this house. haha

Norah found an earthworm. haha even though it was making her antsy…she still held it, which I was impressed with out of the girly girl. We’ll make a country girl out of her yet. ha (doubtful)

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Next up was the front raised yard. Eventually we want to enclose this area a little better, put down giant pavers and pea gravel…or moss in between and make this a front patio area with seating and table… but for now, cutting down the grass to a walkable level will do just fine. πŸ™‚

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img_5728Dog has been helping us weed-eat, too. lol Goat dog.

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Currently, Kegan has weed-eated (weed-ate? weed-eaten? I’m not too sure what the past-tense form of weed eating is…) the west side of the house and uncovered the septic system as well as an entire fence line of blackberries. Yay! (this, in addition to the couple of apple trees in the front yard.)

Tomorrow our flooring for the entire house will be delivered. (figured this was safe since we can store it in the barn and I found a good sale price on wood-look tile at a local store.) It’s the best wide-plank barnwood replica I’ve ever seen…so I’m very excited. I figured with an humid as Ireland is…and the fact that there’s a chance the house can sit for weeks or months at a time in the future… that tile would be a good choice over carpet or hardwood. Also, since it tends to be on the cold side most of the year, we’re going to do the under tile radiant heating mats in the bedrooms, bathrooms and living room with individual thermostats on the bedrooms so they can be turned off when not in use or set to a certain temperature overnight. We had old school radiant pipe heating in California in our rental house…and we both loved it… said we’d try to remember how “worth it” it was when it came time for us to tile again. So I’m trying to remember that as the price tag seems a little pricey. But… the tile was half the price of hardwood… so I’m factoring that in.

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We had hoped to save the kitchen cabinets and just paint them…. but they’re just nasty and falling apart. Cheap laminate, left to sit with food and who knows what in them….they gotta go. I’m currently talking to a guy through DoneDeal.ie (the Craigslist of Ireland) that is selling his existing kitchen and remodeling. He has maple shaker cabinets that will paint just fine and let us replace the entire kitchen with cabinets and appliances for $1,000. Hoping that works out! Would REALLY help keep the total remodel costs down.
**Update before even posting: The cabinets are ours!

For now, the exterior clean up continues….and tomorrow we’re heading to Dublin to fly out Tuesday to Copenhagen, Denmark for a few days. Long story, but a friend of mine, Juliana- who I met through AirBnb when they rented our house in Florida- has been travelling all over Europe over the last few months and came to Ireland the week we went to Sweden. It was my fault. I had her dates wrong… so since I messed up our hanging out in Ireland, I asked where else she was going to be…and we settled on Copenhagen for the last couple days of their trip. So, with low cost airlines at $41 each way, it’s not a big deal to hop a plane to another country to basically have a play date for our 4 year olds. lol

I’ve never been there, so it will be fun to explore. We only have 3 full days there, so i’ll probably roll it all up into one Copenhagen post. We return to Ireland on Oct 1st…. and on Oct 4th, Kaleb and Lindsey arrive for their 10 day Ireland/Paris guided tour. ha Looking forward to introducing Ireland to them and I hope they love it as much as we do. We’re going to jet over to Paris and Normandy for a couple days towards the end, which will be new for us as well. I’ve never been to France. This will be a nice little one day introduction to the area for planning our future trips πŸ™‚

After that bit of fun, it’s all business until Christmas- house and remote IT work unless someone else decides to come visit us as well! I’ll keep you guys posted on any new developments. πŸ™‚

Day 9 – Back to Dublin and a puddle jumper to Edinburgh

We left Belfast this morning… Honestly-we didn’t really like it there. Sorta felt like the Detroit of Europe lol I doubt I spend any more vacation days there in the future πŸ™‚ 

It’s about 2 hours to drive straight back to Dublin, but we made a couple stops along the way. 

Our first was looking for the Kilnasaggart Stone. We drove down this crazy one lane car path and couldn’t seem to locate it. Stopped next to this awesome tunnel… Finally found something online with better directions. Turns out it was through two fields in someone’s backyard. Lol I don’t think anyone had visited in a while.

  

Over a stone wall

  

Through the first field  

Over another wall into a second field    

Through a gate 

One lone stone pillar.    

    

Next stop on our way was Monasterboice. I knew they had a round tower from the 900s that you could ascend in the summer and tons of high crosses with intricate carvings. It did not disappoint…but my camera batteries died so I only have iPhone pictures for the rest of today  πŸ™

   

            

  

   

So after that, we were done with all the planned events prior to the flight. It we had 4 hours to kill. I remembered something I wanted to originally see in Dublin on our way out of town the second day… So I thought the Wonderful Barn might be a good way to kill some time. This strange barn was an outreach project. In the 1740s there was famine in Iramd. A rich widow of a politician created work for the locals by having them build this Barn.   

         

So we headed on into the airport. Norah made friends with the bear

  

I picked up a couple knick knacks

    

Found this gem in the bathroom. I think all public restrooms should have straightening irons hot and ready for use.’  

Goodbye Dublin 

We arrived in Edinburgh and found it a pretty easy city to navigate and drive. Can’t wait to go out exploring tomorrow πŸ™‚ we walked around after parking our car in a garage for the night and found lots of neat statues and monuments

  

                 

We stumbled on this kababs counter off the main drag and decided to give it a shot . Mixed kabob…hmmmmm

    

Well, I am falling sleep…so ignore any major typos haha and I will post way more Edinburgh pictures tomorrow. For now- here is the view out of our bedroom window. It’s like something out of a fairytale story!

  

Day 8- Giant’s Causeway and Belfast

As promised, we woke up and went to see the baby sheep this morning. Norah was excited. They were so cute. A couple were only a day old.  

  

 

        

We had stayed above a really great couple’s garage for the night and this snow covered mountain was our view. It was awesome

 

We tried to find this pyramid some guy built in the middle of the woods to be his grave because he was obsessed with Egyptian things…but we couldn’t find it…so it was on up to the coast to th Carrick-A-Rede Rope Bridge because we apparently have a death wish. For years and years every summer, the fisherman of the area would string up a rope bridge to this small island so they could fish for the season. Nowadays the rope bridge is still there…but I’m not sure it’s any safer.  Lol this definitely wasn’t an American tourist spot. Just a piece of rope separating you from the rocks 40 feet below!

   

                

 

Next we drove over to Giant’s Causeway- probably the most famous natural phenomenon in Ireland/Northern Ireland.

Columnar basalt with hexagonal jointing. Kegan was nerding out πŸ™‚ (for once it wasn’t me! Ha)

On the shuttle out to the point.   

        

     

“Everyone knows that giants hate to get their feet wet, that’s why they built a footpath to Scotland”    

On our way to the car, we saw our first red telephone booth

  

The next stop was The Dark Hedges- a country road with 200 year old birch trees growing on each side. If you’ve ever seen Game of Thrones, it’s where the filmed “the Kings road for a lot of scenes.

 

It was a very cool road

 

  

 

  

We were tired, wet and cold ….some of us more than others….  …so it was time to head to Belfast.  (I’m going to die In the morning when she sees this lol)

We stopped to see one more round tower in Antrim along the way. I just love the round towers… 

  

Belfast is famous for shipbuilding, including the Titanic… The dry docks are visible from any point of town.

  

A very industrial city…with a long history of violence. The “troubles” are captured through murals and graffiti everywhere you go all over the city. Almost everything is either art or graffiti covered…

   

          

We had to print out boarding passes for our flight to Edinburgh tomorrow because we are flying RyanAir…a very low cost airline…but every little thing costs you including printing boarding passes at the airport- to the tune of $70 a person. So we asked our host for the evening, Valerie, who rented us her 3 bedroom townhome for the night- where we could go. She suggested the library, so off we went. The library looked exactly the same as a US library and they charged 1 pound for 15 minutes of Internet and 15 pence for each printed sheet of paper (so about the same as the U.S. Too)

We then headed downtown while Donna watched the girlie at the house, hoping to eat at a seafood restaurant we heard was great… But we got there and they were closed. Across the street was a place called City Picnic- so we thought “what the heck” and decided to go in there.

Little did we know, it was an “American Hamburger joint”. It was the cutest thing! Haha

Their whole schtick is that they sell all American foods….so it was hilarious to see a wall of things like Nerds candy, Jif peanut butter, Trix cereal… 

And they made cheeseburgers, fries and milkshakes. That’s it. Lol

The food wasn’t very good being objective… But I give them a definite A for effort and theme… and Declan- I believe the owner or manager- told me that if I didn’t like it, that I was to remember that his name was Brian and that the restaurant was McDonalds when I wrote my review. Lol

   

   

We were boring for the evening, doing laundry… I must be making it a little rough on everyone because they are all sacked out before 10pm. πŸ™‚

Tomorrow will likely not have much to report as most of our day will be traveling but we have a couple sites to see πŸ™‚ good night!

Couple other photos from Belfast

   

     

Day 7 – Boa Island and Crossing into Northern Ireland

Today we officially crossed over into the UK…even though we are still on the island of Ireland.  (I say that because before I started researching, I didn’t realize that Ireland was its own country, but that Northern Ireland was part of the United Kingdom.)

Great Britain laid claim to the entire island of Ireland in 1801… And that continued until 1921. Northern Ireland was very industrial, whereas most of the rest of Ireland was very agricultural, so N.I. never had the the famine problems or other major social issues. Also, the Northern Ireland area was very Protestant-like Great Britain, and therefore didn’t want to be a part of Ireland and be the minority in a Catholic controlled country, so they remained a territory. They have their own flag and their own culture…but only something like 17% of the population wants to end UK control.

From the 60s through the 90s- Northern Ireland had a lot of unrest. They call it “The Troubles”. Basically the whole Catholic vs Protestant thing still continued up through the 60s in Northern Ireland and finally boiled over to the point that Great Britain played Mom and Dad and took over Northern Ireland by suspending the parliament in Northern Ireland.

This direct British control was totally unacceptable to the Irish Republican Army “guerrillas” which were fighting for a total removal of British influence and Northern Ireland becoming a part of the Republic of Ireland…and the fighting started and continued for over 30 years. 

I think the only reason it ended was because the economy was good, the original fighters had “turned over” to a younger generation…and they just realized it was never going to happen. lol

If you’re over 30 or so, you probably remember some news stories about the terrorism in Northern Ireland on the news. I barely remember bombings and some machine guns and masked men…

So, in 1998, they signed a treaty that basically said any talks of merging NI and Ireland would need votes supporting it from both sides…and with a 17% approval…that’s pretty much proved a very vocal (and terrorist) minority are responsible for the unrest. 

Things still happen here- a couple months ago apparently there were riots and marches here and just last night a woman was shot in both legs in Belfast and they claim it was a “paramilitary style attack”. It’s a big deal here right now it seems. 

So anyway… We started out today on some flat rocks leading into the UK. It looked like brown dirt…almost mud…but it was hard rock! Strange landscape.  

We were headed to something I had found online a couple months ago… An ancient Celtic idol that had been found here around a lake and placed in a cemetary. 

We drove out onto a small island called Boa Island in the middle of a lake (Lough Erne) looking for this stone.

Finally found a farm with a small white sign on their cattle gate. 

If you look close it says “Janus figure”  

There, in the middle of an old family cemetary was the old Janus figure and the “Lusty Beg Man”

It’s called a Janus figure because it is two sided-one side male, one side female- like the two-headed Roman God Janus. However, it actually represents a Celtic diety and its believed that it dates just before Christianity came to Ireland.  

          

 

  

They found this guy on a nearby island about 10 years ago and I guess decided he needed a friend and brought him on over to the cemetary with the Janus statue.  

  It amazes me that this sort of history is just sitting and weathering in a field here and not in a museum or protected in some way! I guess when you have this much history around you start taking it for granted.

We drove on and came across a waterfall along the road- I made Kegan hike back to it haha he teased about how if he didn’t come back that I should come find him…I told him I was going to use the insurance money to buy a castle. Lol  

  

 

Saw a sign for another stone circle along the road so we stopped.    

  

This one was excavated from a peat bog. As we were walking on the ground it felt very springy and fluffy almost. 

 

Norah was helping by adding rocks to the circle haha 

  

We continued on down the road and came to the town of Strabane. Randomly we saw these Giant 12 ft metal statues on the side of the road.  

  

 

 

We had time to kill in the afternoon before going to our rented room for the  night so we added in a little mini side trip about 40km out of the way up to the northern most point in Ireland called Malin Head. Glad we did! Very cool-but freezing and windy- area πŸ™‚

   

Note the trailers on the right side…maybe we can afford one of these “castles” haha        

       

The tower was used to contact ships and then in World War 2 as a communication hub. They wrote “Eire” in rocks to let planes flying over know they were over Ireland- a neutral country in the conflict. 

After leaving Malin Head we became locals and went to Tesco for some groceries. Tesco is like the Walmart Supercenter of Ireland

 

  

  

 

I did find a couple gems though… Like this: 

 I mean…and they say we’re fat in America….

 I did buy this at a gas station today. Malted hot chocolate? Yes please!

We are staying in the guest house garage apartment on a farm tonight…and the sheep are “lambing”…so I’ll try to get some pictures of them in the morning before we head out. πŸ™‚ 

Day 6 – County Mayo and County Donegal

Whew…after a real night’s sleep (even though it was a really bad mattress) I feel much better today! πŸ™‚

We had a lazy morning… Hung out in the apartment, walked up to the market to get some coffee and breakfast. Didn’t hit the road until about 11:30. We really didn’t have much planned today as there just isn’t that much to do in this part of the country. This was basically a travel day to get us up to the northern coast and into Northern Ireland. We meandered through some small towns and followed some detours to a couple castles but mostly just drove backroads and saw a couple things along the way.

When we left Galway, we drove through a couple small little towns in the middle of Sunday mass. The streets were lined with cars…unbelievable just how Catholic the whole country is… 

 

 

We saw a sign along the road for the town of Ballymote  and a castle…so having nothing major to do…why not πŸ™‚

Turns out this is one of the oldest castles we’ve seen- built around 1300 by the Normans. Normans were from the present day Normandy, France region (named so for the Normans who inhabited the area) Norman is actually a loose translation (and a few hundred years worth of miscommunication) of “Northmen” or “Norsemen” as they were decendants of the Vikings. 

How the Normans ended up in Ireland basically goes back to a woman. (doesn’t it always?)

A king of a region (Mac Murchaida) decided he wanted more land. (Such a tired story, isn’t it? Men…) so he kidnapped the other King’s wife and cows. He was buddy-buddy with the High King of Ireland, so he apparently felt he was invinsable. Then the High King died unexpectedly and the new King didn’t like him, so he banished MacMirchaide.

He fled to Normandy and convinced the French to help him invade Ireland and win back the throne. Thus, Normans in Ireland.    

;  

We drove past this large graveyard… I saw the opportunity for some artsy photos πŸ™‚ 

  

  

It’s easy to see why the Irish from this area colonized Indiana and Kentucky…it’s like the Indiana of Ireland around this area.  

 

Drove past Muckree Castle which was closed for a wedding   

  

Seriously. It was Indiana. There was nothing exciting for a while. Ha Except for lunch, we stopped at a SuperMac’s. It’s basically the knockoff Irish version of a McDonalds. It was just OK. It was no American McDonalds. Lol

 

 

  

  

We eventually ended up in County Donagel where the rolling hills quickly started becoming mountainous… The views greatly improved! πŸ™‚ Basically afternoon of some great scenery. 

 

  

  

My favorite picture of the day:

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

 

This is called the Gleniff Horseshoe…the picture doesn’t do the vastness of this justice…it was so awesome.

  

  

  

  

  

We arrived to our rented room for the night early and the family wasn’t home and wasn’t answering their emails or phones… So we decided we could probably fit something we had on the plans for tomorrow in before sunset, so we headed to the opposite side of the little peninsula to the town of Maghera. I had seen online that there was a really remote beach with some caves around there. 

Eos Waterfall outside of Maghera.

  

   The little sign along the road and small car park is misleading. It’s still a half-mile or more away down a path and eventually over some sand dunes. The wind was freezing and blowing so hard that all of our tracks we made heading to the beach were already gone on our way back. Unfortunately, it was high tide, so we couldn’t co inside the caves…but was still cool to see and to find a beautiful beach that remote. I felt like we were the only people in the world out there! Ha

   

          

  

 

 

Tomorrow is another very similar “choose your own adventure” day. We’ll see what kind of random awesomeness we can find πŸ™‚

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