Oct 11 2007

Belfast at Last

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 15:33

We drove from Derry to Belfast today. But we made several stops along the way. We deviated from my original idea of a day trip to the Giants Causeway to stay in Derry yesterday, so we changed how we routed to Belfast.

View Larger Map

I’ll put up just a couple of shots tonight and try to get more up tomorrow. I am out of space on the computer, and am backing up to the iPod now so I can delete some pictures and make the computer run. It was so full applications wouldn’t open.

We stopped at Dunluce Castle, an old castle on a seaside cliff that has partially fallen off the edge.

Dunluce castle

Then we stopped at the Giants Causeway, another sight that is mandatory for a visit to Ireland.

Rita at Causeway

Then, we stopped at a spot with a rope bridge near Ballycastle, over an impressive chasm.

Rope Bridge

While it just shows up as a dark gray band in the pictures (as it was very overcast), we could see the shore of Scotland from this last stop.


We found the Europa Hotel quite easily, and then we went to dinner at a place Steve had been in once when he was here before. Rita and I were treated by the others as reward for our work on the planning. No poison in the food, so I guess I did OK.

We will all do a tour bus tour tomorrow AM to see the town. It is still quite divided yet and it looks to be an interesting and educational day.

More to come. RKK

Oct 10 2007

Day in Derry

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 15:22

Keeping this short. We all took a tour of about an hour this AM on an old double decker bus.

Bus Interior

Which took us through some of the Protestant neighborhoods where their murals were more about history and more support for their paramilitary groups.

UVF Mural

And we also past this statue or the protestant and catholic meeting. Note the hands don’t yet touch.


We also went through the area below our hotel, “the bogside”, where the Civil Rights murals that are visible from our hotel are. The tour guide pointed out this mural of a schoolgirl caught there in crossfire between the british soldiers and the IRA. This would have been during what they refer to as “the troubles” of the 70’s and 80s”. We shot this later as we walked to several of the sights they had pointed out on the tour.

School Girl Mural

As we walked among the murals I found the Irish also think highly of Che.

Che and Me

And we paid a visit to the “Bloody Sunday” memorial.

Bloody Sunday Marker

I remember this from 1972. I hadn’t realized it was here and not Belfast, but I am glad we got to the site. Note it does not say “killed” or “died”, it says “murdered”.

Bloody Sunday dead

Later on our walk we ran into this couple from the 1800s on the wall and got a bit more of the older history.


We also toured St Columb’s Cathedral (Church of Ireland) where they have many historic artifacts as well as beautiful windows. We noticed the American flag, and were told by the woman there it was donated by the Navy troops working at the base here that was in use from WWII until not long ago. The woman, herself, married an American from the base and lives in the US half of the year.

Flags in church

They also had the original locks and keys to the city walls on display.


Then, on the walk back from the church to the hotel, I spotted this ad.

Anti Sectarian Ad

A young woman saw me taking the picture and came out to give me a copy of the poster, and a couple of others. They are part of a school campaign to teach the young kids to not be bigoted, partly toward the other religion, but also against immigrants and homosexuals. Seems the opposite of the current USA Republican agenda.

Got to go to bed. We will be off to Belfast tomorrow, by way of the Giants Causeway and the largest lake in Europe (so I’m told) near Antrim. We have two nights in Belfast before we drive back to fly out of Dublin on Saturday.

Hope all are well. RKK

Oct 10 2007

Northern Ireland

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 00:33

Ignore the tense here, my servers for my site were down last night. Here is yesterdays post. From Tuesday, Oct 9th.

Today we left not only Galway, but The republic of Ireland as well. We are now in Derry, or as they say up here, Londonderry. That is we crossed the border a few kilometers before hitting town, and we are in Northern Ireland now.

Derry is as they are proud of…

The Walled City

It is one of the longest continuously inhabited walled cities in the world. It has been here for many centuries. We are at the Tower Hotel, inside the walled portion of the city. This part is small, we walked around the wall already. But the city , while quite different outside the wall, doesn’t stop at all. You pass through a gate and continue down the next street.

Rita shooting from the wall

M&D on the wall

From our room we can see apartment blocks, with the ends of the buildings decorated with murals or heros and martyrs from “the troubles” of recent generations. On the news tonight I watched a report on a member of parliament walking out because Gaelic was being spoken in the chamber, which he said was an insult.


Mural close

Of course not all painted walls are political murals.

Jim Morrison

We hope to get a tour tomorrow to learn more about this place and their history and outlook. It seems much more American in many ways, with the exception of the smoking, which is more like the America of the past. I saw most of the school kids light up as soon as they were away from the school. Little kids, too.

Restaurants were harder to find, as there is not real “restaurant row” like most other towns. They say that they have not really adapted to tourist, as it is just now becoming a destination. I definitely see less of our ilk, and get more stares with the camera here.

I will go now, tomorrow is a mellow day, with local sightseeing, so hopefully we’ll have some more good pictures up tomorrow night. RKK

Oct 08 2007

Getting Wet In Galway

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 15:22

Today was a bit more like what we had expected, weather wise. It rained on and off (mostly on). We did do some shopping on the main shopping street. Like many places, they have several main streets that are pedestrian only and are basically open malls.

Shop Street

This particular one has both, an open street and a real mall. The main street of shops is appropriately named “Shop Street”. Interestingly, the only part of the old city wall still around to see is in the mall.

The wall in the mall

We did pass several historic buildings right here in the area. A former castle that is a bank, and an Irish Language theater that was influential in reviving Irish culture.

Theater Sign

Galway is very lively, and also seems to be a working class place. The feel was way more Irish, with Gaelic being spoken everywhere.

Men at work

But apparently they take beer as seriously here as the Dubliners do.

Quality Control

They must be busy here, as it looks like they don’t have much time for dyeing.The hearse here looked like a hot rod.


Rita got to do a yoga class this evening, and I’m sure she will feel better for it. Personally, I have done more walking than I ever do at home, so I hope that makes up for the other exercise I’m missing.

Tomorrow, it’s off to Derry for the eight of us, with Lucy and Jim hitting the train station before the rest of us are out of bed. I’m sure their train ride will be fun, and a chance to see even more of Ireland before leaving.

More soon. RKK

Oct 08 2007

We Are Now In Galway

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 03:17

Dingle for us was just a “spend the night stop”. We weren’t in until the afternoon and were out right after breakfast. It was a pretty little town, and I can see why people choose it, but I enjoyed Portmagee more, even with not getting to go to the Skellig.

Of course when we split up so Mary, Delmer, Rita and I could go on the boat, that meant the others took the van, and we had the car. Only Steve and Rita had their names on the car for driving, so Rita got her chance to drive on the left. She was great, of course, and now has even more empathy for Steve and I doing this most of the trip.

Start with a couple of shots from the day before yesterday. These were in the garden of the Captain’s House in Dingle. A nice shot to show Lucy does slow down enough to be photographed without motion blur, once in a while. And one of Mike who cracked us up as most people’s head will nod when they doze off (thus the expression), but Mike is has been reassembled so stiff he stays put.



Yesterday we were back with me driving the van and steve the car. This morning at breakfast, somebody mentioned the extra difficulty of the van due to width on the narrow roads. I told them I’d take that as I valued the better visibility from the height of the van. I like to see these guys coming a bit sooner than you do in a low car.

What’s wrong with this picture?

Right hand drive for left hand road

A lot of stuff like this popped up along the way.

Old Building

The trip from Dingle to Galway took us to a ferry ride across the mouth of the river Shannon. Our timing on the trip yesterday was “brilliant!!” (as the guys in the Guiness ads would say) Good roads and we drove onto the ferry moments before it pulled away from the dock. And by the way, I’m no Guinesss convert, couldn’t adapt, but they do have me on a supplement called “Smithwicks”, which is also Irish, and is one of the smoothest beers I’ve ever tasted.

This is the guy who was worried he wouldn’t be a good traveler. Delmer on the ferry, and yes, he has been grinning a lot lately!


Some more of typical Ireland sights, but with a familiar name (Rita’s mom’s side of the family).


Loved the buildings with thatched roofs. Not real common now, but not unusual here.


We stopped at a beach along the drive to the cliffs, and as you can tell the “liquid sunshine” was not to be had. Those without shades were wishing for them. Beautiful weather for most of this trip.

Beach stop

We then did the obligatory trip to the Cliffs of Moher (I hear they don’t let you out if you skip them). Pretty enough. I was amazed not to see any writing about the lady in the rock. I noticed a profile in the rock just at the base of where you go to the edge, that had as well carved a human profile as many bits of man made art, yet no one else seemed to notice. Heck, in mexico, I’m sure it would have been sighted and announced as the “Virgin of Moher”.

Virgin of Moher

More of Moher.

S&D@ cliffs

On the way to Galway we went out into the Burren a ways. Really strange rocks. Like cord wood sticking end up, with gaps between the stone. Stopped to look at some old ruins as well. But it was really just incredibly rocky and barren.

Talking hands on the Burren

More typical old buildings of no note.

Old building number two

We are all hanging tight in Galway today. Several were thinking of going to the Aran Islands, but as we just have the day, each decided to just see Galway. Reasons ranged from, needing to do laundry and wanting down time, to “So what’s on the Islands?” and a desire to shop here in town. That’s not mentioning the Yoga class this evening.

Our Hotel in Galway.

Skeffington Arms Hotel

I think we are going to hop on a “hop on, hop off” bus after laundry is done and this post is up. We do want to get our Republic of Ireland mementoes here, as we will be northern ireland after tomorrow’s drive. We will be back in the republic briefly, just to get to the airport in Dublin Saturday.

It is hard to believe the trip is over half done. Lucy and Jim head out on a train to Dublin tomorrow, while the rest of us head on. All in the one van from here on out. I guess I have done OK, so far anyway, as the comments have begun about having me plan the next trip for them as well. I must admit, for as different as everyone is, they have done remarkably well at NOT getting on each others nerves. I guess that being raised in a large family does teach one some skills at getting along in a group.

Well, this is all for now. The hotel here has internet in the lobby and bar, so I might get a short one up tonight as well, if we see anything really interesting. For now, then, Bye. RKK

Oct 06 2007

Playing Catch Up

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 10:38

My last post, was three post actually, so if you did not see all three go back and have a look. Today, I’m just slapping up one for the past three days (counting today).

The day I posted that I was in Cashel, with Lucy and Jim. The rest went to Waterford for the day. The toured the Waterford Crystal Factory, and Mary got some Harley T shirts for some friends. I spent the morning getting internet stuff done and the afternoon shooting at the Rock of Cashel and a small abandon abbey behind it.

Trust me there were many good pictures from both, but with the lack of internet and time being short on these travel days, the posting will be sparse for now and I will try to put more up later. To hold you off here are just a couple.

A shot from Waterford of the glassblowing stage of production.

glass blowing

One of the old Abbey with the rock in the background (none of the rock are a lot better than Rita’s shot out the window).

Abbey and Rock

A bride and Groom from a wedding came out to the old abbey to get pictures with the Rock in the background. I don’t know if they are famous, but they have rich covered. Arrived in a Rolls (and others at our hotel say a lot of Benzes and Rolls were at the wedding. And after shooting them, they flew off in a helicopter.

Bride in Ruins

Then yesterday we drove to Portmagee. We stopped off at the Blarney Castle and we all tried to kiss the Blarney Stone. With the way this family talks now, I hope this doesn’t backfire. I actually had not really wanted to go to this castle, but as it is one of the few ruins of the era where you can go to the top, I ended up really glad we did.

Blarney Castle exterior

Rita’s turn to Kiss the Blarney Stone

Last night in Portmagee (at a great place “the Moorings”) we had a nice dinner and most everyone went to bed. Steve is fighting a cold, as am I, but I decided to make it down for live music and dancing (to watch, not join in). It was great, like a 30 or 40 year time-warp. Lucy and Jim were ion the tavern, too, but I didn’t spot them until I was leaving. A packed house with whole families.

Today, we split up as Mary, Delmer, Rita, and I were taking a boat to Skellig Michael, and the rest headed out to Dingle. However, we only got to circle the Islands, as there was too much swell in the ocean to land. Still it was a great boat ride, and we saw lots of birds, and a few dolphins to boot.


We arrived at the hotel in Dingle just ahead of the others, as they had had lunch along the way (we did but ours was a picnic on the lunch prepared for the island trip, on the roadside, watching farmers vaccinate and ween sheep.


We did a brief stop at Inch Beach where they were surfing, but we really wanted to get on in. It appears really nice here, but we just have this evening. We go on to Galway (via the Cliffs of Moher and the Burrin) tomorrow. We have two nights there, and from here on all stops are two nights at a time.

M&D at Inch Beach

Rita is shooting around town right now, and I’m prepping this. As soon as I get this done, I will walk to the Internet cafe (2 blocks) and post. They close at 7:30 so I can’t really do much now and be done in time. I think I had better luck with the internet in Central Asia. And for sure in Canada. But it just hasn’t become as widespread here. Signs of it “coming soon” abound, but not much in place.

I want to get this done, as I hope to find more of the music with dinner tonight. I know the other’s will love it as well.

More later. RKK

Oct 04 2007

Wednesday Oct 3rd. Yesterday to me.

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 06:53

After breakfast and a bit of time to pack, Steve, Rita, and I took a taxi to the car rental place. We picked up a Toyota “minibus” and a small Kia. The minibus could actually have fit all of us as the seat configuration has jump-seats in the luggage area as well. However, we would not have all fit with our luggage any way. And I’m not sure of legality, as the rental places only advertised them as 9 seaters.

From there we headed back to the hotel to pick up the crew. Mary & Delmer, and Karen & Mike went with us, whine Steve & Diane took Jim & Lucy with them. It worked out well as Lucy really wanted to see Powerscourt (a big British Garden a bit South of town) and I really wanted to see Glendalough (the ruins of a Monastic city). As we had left so late we would not have had time to do both and still arrive in Cashel before dark. So Steve stopped at Powerscourt and I stopped at Glendalough.

entering Glendalough

arches at Glendalough

Round Tower

markers in graveyard at Glendalough

Group minus me at Glendalough

Another approch shot

Mike in ruins!

Rita and I must have the same taste, we both got shots of thei gravestone from the 1700s.

another marker

Sorry for so many, but this place was really something.


inside one of the buildings

The real down side for me was our routing did not take us on the road through Sally’s Gap, that I had heard about and wanted to drive through. Oh well, small trade offs for a comfortable trip. Steve warned that the roads here are narrow, and he was right, but they weren’t ALL of the super narrow type, the main roads were wide enough (while still narrow by US standards) to comfortably go the speed limit (which was usually 100 KPH on the mains and 80 KPH on the back roads. Of course, there were places where 25 KPH was fast.

narrow road

road with tree tunnel

We arrived in Cashel a bit before the other’s, but they were in before dark as well. Our group was ready for dinner, as we just had snacks for lunch. But the others needed a break and had eaten a real lunch along the way, So we chose to walk down the street to a restaurant rather than eat here, partly for the limited menu here, and partly the price, but I think since we were having breakfast here everyone wanted the variety.

Here is our van at the hotel in Cashel, finally. Survived day one on the left side of Irish roads!


Today, I am sticking here in town, but I think everyone else is going to Waterford. Some for the crystal factory tour, and some just for the town. I have been a bit under the weather with a sore throat, and want some down time. I will go walk the ruins here in town, and do my internet (I will have to go to the library, I guess), and get some extra rest.

One last shot and a preview of things to come. Here is the Rock of Cashel from out bedroom window this morning.

view out our window

Should be good for all and we will be back together here tonight. RKK

Oct 04 2007

Tuesday Oct 2nd. Tuesday? Boy I am behind.

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 06:24

After breakfast everyone split up. Rita and I had reservations on a tour to Newgrange and the Hill of Tara. Visually not much at either. The hill of Tara in particular, well, as the guide said, “You really have to use your imagination”. But a spectacular viewpoint, and a very historic place.

Stone of Tara

Along the way we went through the village where Pierce Brosnen was raised and past a castle where rock concerts are held (the Irish Royals lost all their land and don’t collect rents any longer (like the Brits still do) so they have to make a living.

Blurry Castle

The best part of this tour turned out to be the tour guide. Come to think of it we have had the best luck with guides anywhere. Even the first guy we got doing the Hop On Hop Off bus was really enthused and interested in the history (the later drivers never did match him). And the woman in the Jail was excellent as well. The archaeologist who took us in to the inside of Newgrange was funny and interesting, explaining both the conventional theories and the controversial ones as well. But the woman running this tour to Newgrange was special. Instead of just a few tidbits we got Irish history 101 from neolithic man to the recent peace accords and the formation of the new government in Northern Ireland.

At Newgrange we ran into Lucy and Jim who took the shuttle bus up and did the tours of Newgrange and Howth (SP?). And going inside a five thousand two hundred year old building (where the roof doesn’t even leak), makes you wonder about modern architecture.

Jim and Lucy in line

Rita in front

The guide who took us in.

Guide Inside

We sae many of these “turnstiles” that don’t turn.

Weird Turnstiles

We all met at 7:00 PM and went to dinner (except Lucy and Jim who stayed late at a library researching family histories). We went back to the place we ate the first night because it was good, close, and they had enough traditional dishes on the menu that their were still more to try. I had a “coddle”. Look that one up. Sort of a potato soup with mashed potatoes thrown in and sausages on top. Very good and very filling.

Internet was running, but just enough to piss me off. So I gave up on that to get ready to travel. RKK

Oct 04 2007

Yesterday’s News Now 20% Older!

Category: TravelRandall Kelley @ 06:16

We had breakfast at the hotel in smaller groups, as everyone was sort of setting their own agendas.

At Breakfast

Most of us boarded the hop on hop off bus on what was left of yesterday’s ticket. But we satyed on when the rest hopped off at St. Patrick’s and Rita and I continued to Kilmainham Gaol (Jail). You may not realize it but you probably have seen this place already. In movies, that is, like the opening scene of the original Oceans 11, or Name of the Father.

The part they call “the Hilton”.

Interior Courtyard of Kilmainham Gaol

Rita in jail.

Rita in Jail

A painting by the widow of an executed revolutionary, done when she herself was part of another movement years later.

Painting through keyhole

Then we rode a real city bus back as far as Christ Church. But the first churce we visited was St. Audeons. A small, plane church compared to the others, but much older, with part in ruins, and part left as the oldest active congregation in Ireland (since the 1100s I think he said).

St Audoens

Then we looked at Christ’s Church, but just from the outside.

Christ’s Church

But by then I was getting hungry, and some other tourist eating Fish N Chips set my stomach off. Across the street to the Bull and Castle Tavern and had a great lunch. So far, the old legend of bad Irish food has proved to be outdated (if it ever was true).

Then we walked back to the hotel, and on the way we saw some Dubliners that remind us urban life is pretty much the same everywhere.

Street People

Then we stopped at the Tourist Information Center to arrange todays trip. It is in an old church. Out back we saw this statue. Saint or Street people? Well, maybe some Saints were both.

Street Saint

Back at the hotel we recovered our luggage. We split up as Rita tried to go to a yoga class, and I headed to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Rita had no luck, as the taxi driver couldn’t find the street in a maze of poorly marked streets. The fact that it was a street named Avenue Road didn’t help.

As I left trinity College I cam across a bit of modern art along the way. Some of the newer stuff here is pretty neat, too.


That’s all for Monday’s stuff. RKK

« Previous PageNext Page »