Tonight I'm in Newgrange

**This was supposed to post Monday night**

Right now I am safely tucked in to Newgrange Lodge (www.newgrangelodge.com), out in the common area doing my nightly update, in my slipper socks!  I'll be touring Newgrange (www.newgrange.com) in the morning, and then heading North to visit the Giant's Causeway and Bushmills Distillery tomorrow. I picked Newgrange Lodge because it was relatively inexpensive, 35 euros, includes breakfast and is about 200 meters from Newgrange. And it gets me to the Boyne valley, which has a lot of important historical sites. I am hoping to explore some of those tomorrow also, if I can get an early enough start.  

I've been having so much fun!  I'm navigating all on my own with my map, no GPS needed.  Now that I've spend so much time on the road, I can figure out fairly easily where I'm going.  I pick the next point, get there, and then decide what route to take.  Newgrange is not exactly straightforward to find, and I wanted to avoid dealing with Dublin.  And I managed all of that.  

The guy working the reception desk just did the sweetest thing.  He was going through to make himself a cup of tea, and asked if I'd like one.  I said yes, with a little cream and sugar.  Guess who's going to be up all night...but that's okay.  This morning I did get out and tour around Galway in the daylight, and found Charlie Byrne's bookstore (www.charliebyrne.com)  It's interesting how I keep finding these places I want to go without actually making a point to go there. I bought a book about Lady Gregory, and a book written by an Irish author, Edna O'Brien.  I also brought a few other books, so I have plenty of reading material.

 

I think I like Galway better at night.  Some weird guy wanted to take a picture of me with my camera in Eyre Square, and I told him no thanks.  I could just see him running off with it.  We would have had a fight then.  But, then I had a great conversation with the sweetest lady from Donegal.  Twice I had people ask me if I knew where something was, and I'm not even Irish!  My stay in Galway was a lot of fun though.  The hotel was very accommodating, breakfast delicious! I had a full, hot "mini breakfast" with one sausage, one rasher, one egg, small black and white pudding and one tiny tomato.  I stopped in at Goya's and got an Americano while I was out wandering the streets of Galway.  Delicious smelling bakery if ever there was one!


On the way to Newgrange, I decided to stop at Kilbeggan's Distillery (http://www.kilbegganwhiskey.com) and take a self-guided tour. I am definitely on the "Irish Whiskey Trail" now.  It was so cool! I was the only one in the building, and I got to take all the pictures I wanted, which you will see, on my Flickr feed.  I had lunch at their restaurant and the portion was so huge, I have half of it still sitting in the fridge here for dinner.  The coolest thing is that because I was driving, they gave me my complimentary tasting in a traveler, and gave me a keepsake glass.  You can find their whiskey in the States, under the Jim Beam portfolio.  And I just drank it while sitting here writing this post.  



Tullamore D.E.W.

Today went a little differently than planned.  I still have dishes to do....whatever.  I wanted to go to the Cliffs of Moher, BUT the weather was really rainy and misty and not cooperating.  So, what better indoor activity than doing a whiskey tour and tasting?  

Off I headed to Tullamore, in the middle of Ireland.  It's about 120km from me, so about 2 hours driving.  I packed overnight things just in case I didn't want to come all the way back.  I arrived at the Visitors Centre (http://www.tullamoredew.com/our-birthplace) around 1:00pm.  The next tour would be at 2:30, so I decided to have lunch.  Mussels and fries.  Pretty delicious.  


The tour was pretty fun.  At only 9 Euros, for a one-hour tour and then a tasting of three of their whiskeys at the end, I thought it a pretty good bargain.  The tour ended up being very informative, and I learned a lot.  I also think I may have found my destiny while I was there!!  I found this: www.irelandwhiskeytrail.com .  I don't really know what it entails, but I think I'm going to incorporate at least some of it.  Oh, and I did bring back a bottle of the whiskey that is only produced and available at the Visitor Centre.  For special occasions only, of course.


My drive took me through four counties: Clare, Galway, Tipperary and Offaly.  On my way back tonight, I got a good look at Lough Derg.  I'm going back to Mountshannon to do some exploring of the town, and the lake.  And, the sky is so clear and brilliant right now, I feel like I could reach up and bring Orion right down in the palm of my hand.  A million glittering faces in the velvet night looking down on us.  I know for sure I'm staying in the right place.  I missed the gentle hills and forests of County Clare after being out of it today.  

Tomorrow my plan is to go to the Cliffs of Moher, Loop Head, Doolin...wherever else the road takes me.  I've gotten used to driving on the other side of the car and road.  I'm pretty proud of myself for making it to Tullamore and back with little to no mishaps.  And, even driving part of the way back in the dark.  And believe me, I wish the brights had another level.  It gets that dark here.  Tonight I'm staying in, cooking up some steak and mushrooms, and enjoying a cold, Extra Stout Guinness.  Cheers to the weekend!!