For 7€ a bus will get you into Dublin’s city centre. A small shop just up from Connelly rail station, at 77A Talbot street, will allow you to leave your bags for the day, if your accommodations won’t, for only 5€ per bag.

I walked over to Gresham hotel for a tea and a warm croissant with Irish butter before boarding a bus for a tour to the Wicklow Mountains, Glendalough and Avoca. There are various companies out there offering the tour.

Prior to the last ice age the Wicklow mountains were covered in trees. After the ice melted bogs remained. The mountains are now a National park, but before this people would take up pieces of the bog to dry for fuel to heat their homes. There was a fire there last year that left destruction; new growth can already be seen. They had snow there in May. Despite a light rain at times, the day was gorgeous. Later in the summer there will be hues of purple and pink as flowers such as heather begin to bloom. I pictured the Irish Tenors singing. “Will Ye Go Lassie Go,” as we drove the countryside. Our tour group was small with only 8, so we moved from a bus to a van. The top was glass and if it had been warmer they would have opened it.

The river, Liffey that flows through Dublin starts in the Wicklow mountains.

The tour also goes to Glendalough It is beautiful ruin of a monastery and a cemetery. I can only imagine how peaceful it is for family to visit their loved ones and look at the view of the mountains around them. A mist of rain started but that did not deter a walk around. There are hikes you can take up to one of two lakes. Since there was no time for that I chose to have a tea and eat some fish and chips at a stand outside of the ruins. There was also a restaurant in the hotel there filled with larger tour groups.

The Guinness family farm can be seen on the tour. They filmed some of the show “Vikings” here. As we stood overlooking Guinness lake the wind began to intensify. I stayed behind all the others who made their way to the edge of a very long drop down. I took the word of the tour guide who said it is an unforgiving drop, even if gradual. The place is a great place for hang gliding; if only I was more daring.

For those movie and show buffs like me you can also see the bridge from the movie “P.S I Love You;” made famous in the proposal scene.

The tour guide offered me the chance to walk around the town of Avoca as others visited the mill famous mill in town, since I was the only on who knew of it being the site of the “Ballykissangel.” The show is one of my favorites on British TV. The river Avoca runs through the town which makes it a perfect place for a mill. I ate a raspberry scone and had a cup of Irish tea inside the Fitzgerald’s pub.

Ireland’s history goes back thousands of years when nomadic tribes of celts made their way over from Central Europe during the Stone age. They could walk over to the island back then. As time went on they settled down some to farm. Ireland has kept much of its past despite occupation by various influences, as well as in part to lack of influence from the Roman Empire. The Romans did not settle there as they thought it was too cold. The Vikings came along and wreaked havoc but eventually assimilated. They brought with them, coins, language, and the concept of towns. The Norman’s came in by invitation and would also assimilate. They brought their castles and churches. During the dark ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Ireland didn’t suffer as others did in the rest of Europe. The monks were scholars of the written word and this influenced the rest of society, giving them a high literacy rate. Of course the Vikings plundered the monasteries. Then England tried to stop the language as it was unlawful to speak it. This is all I will say on the history of Ireland. It is really worth learning about their past. I could go in about it for many pages.

Until 2000 only small roads led you around the country. In 2000 the motorway was built. What used to take 7 hours across to Galway now takes 2 from Dublin. As you head west land is divided by fences made of stones, which look as though it was backbreaking work. Cattle, sheep and horses stay within these walls.

The Cliffs of Moher touch the Atlantic Ocean. Walk along the cliffs over 700 ft high, but do not sit down, the people running the place will let you know just how much they frown upon it.

The Burran mountains lack the green the rest of the landscape has. Read about them….

Kilmacduagh ruins has one of the best preserved towers. In the days of invasions, monks would climb up rope ladders with their processions, pull the ladders up and escape the invaders. They never mentioned how long they had to stay waiting for their adversaries to leave though there may be written word of it in archives somewhere.

A bus full of 39 of us from 12 different countries listening to our guide as we made our way onto Galway. Galway had men from Spain, Queen Isabel’s fleet, settle there after their ships sank nearby. This is evident evident in some people seen there today. In Galway a new friend and I ate Guinness stew and mash potatoes. The meat in Ireland is some of the best around because of the natural grazing and lack of hormones used.

After our arrival back into Dublin we walked over to the Church of Dublin Bar and Restaurant. The founder of Guinness was married there is the 1700’s, Handel practiced his “Messiah” there. Johnathan Swift attended the church among others. My travel companions from home and I will have dinner there tonight to enjoy a Irish band.

Last night we walked around Temple Bar which according to three tour guides, the locals never go. It’s known for high prices and lots of tourists consuming large quantities of alcohol. We did step in to a couple of places to hear some music, barely fitting in the crowd. In Fitzsimmons a band played John Denver’s “Country Road,” and nearly the entire bar, to include me, sang the tune. One great thing about traveling alone is you meet some wonderful people along the way!

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I recommend Sandman’s free walking tours. The guides are extremely knowledgeable. Be sure to tip as this is how they earn their money.

I can recommend two places to stay. One is Barry’s hotel for a very comfortable stay, and the other is Abbey Court hostel if you want a cheaper place. I also recommend booking before you come because places fill up very quickly and prices are raised for last minute bookings.

One last note, The National museums are free in Dublin and well worth a see. See the gallery for the rest of the pictures.

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