The Long Road Home

It's about 9:30 am on Friday morning.  After all my traveling yesterday just too tired to do a blog last night. So I drank Guinness and binge-watched Downton Abbey instead.  I was driving through snow all day yesterday.  Either in it, behind it or ahead of it, no matter.  The important thing is when I got home to the cottage, the weather was bright, calm, and not a snowflake in sight.  And I made it before dark.

Yesterday morning, after a full Irish breakfast,  I took off from Slane.  The snow was coming down.  I drove up to Slane Hill, took one pic, and headed back down.  I did not want to get stuck on a hill.  After I got out of Slane, the snow settled down.  I worked my way over the Kells, stopping to take photos of St. Patrick's church somewhere between Kells and Navan.  And I inadvertently stumbled upon the Donaghmore Round Tower, just off the N51, before I ended up at St. Patrick's church. Once I got to Kells, it was beautiful!  Sunshine and blue skies.  From the town center, after I drove past the monastic site, I spied a tower up on a hill I had to get to.  It's called the "Spire of Lloyd".  The snow was pristine, just a few people leaving once I got there.  


What I came upon up there also was a "Pauper's Cemetery".  From what I understand, countless poor Irish were buried there en masse as a result of the famine.  It breaks my heart to know that people were simply dying of hunger.  And those that could've helped decided not to because the Irish were getting a lesson from God through the calamity.  How tired I get of hearing that.  It was a beautiful and somber place, to think I stood upon the bones of those who died before, and no names were even known.  I think the famine caused some of my ancestors to leave and come to the Americas, or Canada, if my research is right.  I'll have to study the famine more, but it seems it too could have been avoided if the few would have taken care of the many.  

After leaving Kells, I took myself on a wild goose chase through the Boyne Valley to find the Loughcrew Cairns, a megalithic burial site.  I never did find them.  I took a wrong turn somewhere and ended up by a lake.  It was probably good I didn't find them, because in the snow I may not have made it up.  I eventually saw a sign for them later and was so tempted to go back. But then it was afternoon and I still had go cross-country to get to the West.  

I made it home as the sun was dipping down over the mountains.  I stopped and took a shot of Lough Dergh in the distance, just too beautiful to ignore.  My mini road trip is over, and what a trip it was!  I stood on the edge of the country and felt the ferocious storm off the Northern Coast.  Drove backroads in snow for miles.  Saw a copy of the book of Kells, visited copious historical sites.  I loved County Meath.

But, there is something special about this place in County Clare.  The mountains, the terraced hills, the way the land folds gently into itself.  The lakes, and the people.  I have fallen in love with this place.  It will be hard to leave.  Today, the weather is good.  And so, I'm going off to the Dingle Peninsula.  I will have to save the Ring of Kerry for another trip, when the weather is better.  Off to more adventuring!

The Day That Wasn't.

**This was written last night, the 28th**

I am disappointed to say I never made it to Giant's Causeway, but I did find Dunluce Castle, on my host's recommendation at the guest house last night  I thought I was going to get blown off the cliff! Me and the Micra, over we go.  Didn't happen.  I actually made it all the way to the Visitor Centre, paid the admission fee, and then found out it would be a 25-minute walk to the Causeway.  Not happening in this wind.  I did find out "Dracula Untold" was filmed at the Causeway. I guess I can go online and look at pictures.  


Sometimes you just gotta heed the signs, and today was one of those days.  The weather was crazy!  You could see the storm blowing in across the Atlantic.  Snow, wind, rain, sleet, breaks of name it.  I have never been out in wind like that.  I thought I lost my hat (found it later in my hood), almost lost my phone and I thought I lost my lens cap for my camera, which was somehow in the leg of my pants.  

I don't know what was going on, but I was not about to risk it any further and decided to get the hell out of there.  I stopped in at Bushmills, did not do the tour but did come back with a bottle of reserve whiskey only produced for and sold at the Distillery.  I just wanted to get out of there before I got stuck.  And I did.  I headed South through Antrim, bypassing Belfast.  I had no desire to go to the city whatsoever.  In fact, I don't think I have any desire to go back to Northern Ireland.  I would only maybe want to see the Antrim Coast, but I don't know if it's even worth that.

My destination point today was Slane.  Yesterday on my way through County Meath to Bushmills, I promised myself on the way back I would stay over in Slane.  There are many more historical sights I wanted to see that I missed on my way up in my haste to go North.  And, the weather was looking very sketchy so there was no way I was making it back to the cottage today.  

Before I went to Slane today, I took a slight detour over to Drogheda and ended up on an inlet of the Irish Sea.  I'd been North to the ocean, so why not East to the sea.  I found a rock beach littered with shells!  Whole shells, not all busted like at home.  I picked up a handful to take home while I spent a few minutes walking around in the sunshine near the water.  I needed the break after coming down from Northern Ireland and just wanted to get to the sunshine and the sea.


I ended up checking into the Conyngham Arms Hotel, right in the center of Slane Village. I had no reservation but they had rooms.  And what a room!  Gorgeous bed, two in fact!  A Nespresso machine, and even robes.  My room looks out over the main street of the village.  If you ever come to Slane, do yourself a favor and stay here.  Oh, and breakfast is included. 

Before dinner I was out walking around, walked down to the Boyne River, around the gate to Slane Castle, and took more photos of random things.  Snow was falling on and off, and I decided if I got stuck here, I would be totally fine with it.  I'm always experimenting with and learning about taking photos.  So, I always get some weird shots, some especially weird shots of the church bell tower tonight.  I have discovered I really like wandering around taking photos in the dark.  Yup, I'm weird.  As I was taking photos, the church bells rang to let me know it was 6pm. I stopped and paused to listen. It was perfect.

At dinner I had great conversation with one of the servers, Moira.  Dinner was incredible!  Grilled chicken breast with kale and garlic tiny potatoes in a red wine mushroom sauce. Delicious!! So when you travel alone, you are never really alone. Last night and this morning I had tons of conversation with the owners of Fin Mac Cool's guest house.  It's so fun to sit and listen to people.  I think their lives are so interesting and being with them enriches mine.

It's still pretty early, but I think I might turn in.  Lots of driving in the last few days.  And, there are quite a few more things I want to see before I go back to the cottage tomorrow.  Slane Hill, Battle of the Boyne, Kells, the tombs at Loughcrew....lots and lots and lots.  We'll see how far I get.  Luckily, breakfast is at half-seven tomorrow, so I can get an early start on my day.  I'm going to try and see if there's a way I can get in to see the Slane Castle.  Apparently it's become quite the concert venue.  If it's not open, maybe I'll just have to find another way in, through the woods or something.  Where there's a will, there's a way...