After our visits to Kildare and Cork (see last post), we went north. On August 19, we drove into the UK visiting County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland. Our first stop there was at Belleek to visit the china manufacturer and take the tour, one of the best “industrial” tours I’ve ever taken.
We then drove around Lower Loch Erne to Enniskillen, stopping along the way on Boa Island to see the Janus Stone (a strange little two-faced statue in a small, ancient-but-still-in-use graveyard on an insignificant island in the middle of nowhere – a picture of the kids with the stone is in Caitlin’s camera). After that we stopped in Kesh for a cup of coffee and a scone in an odd little café (we had to get them to go because the place was packed and there was no seating). We chatted with a couple of workmen from Enniskillen, one of whom knows the Funstons of Kesh whom Evie and I met on our visit there six years ago.
In Enniskillen we discovered a horrible traffic crunch and simply drove slowly through the High Street past the Anglican cathedral and left it at that. We also discovered that my Garmin GPS is programmed rather oddly – one cannot find Florence Court (a manor house maintained by the UK National Trust) or the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark (a European Union geographical heritage site also maintained by the National Trust) listed as “attractions” or “points of interest”. I finally found Florence Court listed as “Florencecourt” and designated as a city. The “city” is a cluster of maybe seven buildings (six homes and a small store) about 2 km from the manor house itself. We did not visit the house, but did go to the caves. (Looking at my pictures of that, I discover one more thing … I’m not a subterranean nature photographer!)
We ended August 19 returning to Banagher by way of Roscrea, stopping there for dinner at a very nice restaurant in a local hotel. The next day we took a late morning (most of our mornings we rose very early to make the long drive to our day’s destination) and went to Galway for the day. There we walked through Eyre Square, trolled down Shop Street, walked along the River Corrib, visited the city museum, the Roman Catholic Cathedral, the campus of NUI Galway, and the National Aquarium in Salthill.
On the way back to Banagher we stopped at Clonmacnoise and visited the ruins of a Celtic monastery founded by St. Ciáran.
At the end of the day, we went to dinner at Flynn’s Pub and Restaurant in Banagher, the same place the kids had had their first dinner in Ireland. Our evening was spent getting their things (and some of mine that they are taking back to the States) packed up and going to bed early for our departure for Dublin early the next morning.
In Dublin, we had a bit of difficulty getting into the car park at the Jurys Inn Christ Church (where they had reserved a room for the night), but eventually we got there, used the restrooms in the hotel, and walked to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. Unfortunately, you can’t take pictures inside the exhibit or in the Long Room of the Trinity Library, so no photos. After seeing the Book of Kells, we walked to Grafton Street; along the way, Caitlin stopped to meet her predecessor in the fishmongering business, Molly Malone:
We had breakfast at Bewley’s on Grafton Street, and walked through St. Stephen’s Green on our way to the National Print Museum which Caitlin wanted to see.
Before leaving for Dublin, I took their picture in front of the cottage. I have really enjoyed having them with me for the week; Caitlin and I both got teary eyed saying goodbye in the Jurys Inn car park. (I’m tearing up right now!) I love my daughter and to spend this week with her, introducing her to a country I’ve grown to love, was a real treat! And it was good to have Jeff along; he’s a good man, laid back and relaxed.
As I close this post, Continental Airlines reports that they are en route, have been in the air for 2 hours, 15 minutes, and will arrive in Newark in a little under 5 hours. Slán abhaile, kids!