Tuesday, 15 May 2007

2003 - 2nd Holiday in Ireland

Our holiday in Ireland last year had been pretty successful for an agoraphobic, so Marie & I thought we'd have another one. I had already travelled all around Ireland and while this meant that there would be little to surprise me, it also meant that I knew where the best places were! It was also helpful that I could guess what places would be the most agoraphobic friendly.

Marie's fear of car ferries was less than last year, so we chose to cross the Irish sea from South Wales - a 2-hour crossing in a small (this was important to Marie) ferry - to south-east Ireland, about 100 miles south of Dublin.

One of the B&B houses we stayed at
We toured from place to place stopping off in bed-and-breakfast establishments. Our biggest problem was finding somewhere to stay overnight. It had to be somewhere with a family room (Joseph was with us) where our car could park beside the door, and our room could not be far into the building. Then it also had to have the breakfast room easily accessible from both our room and the front door. Quite often we spent a couple of hours looking for a place that Marie felt comfortable in. This was the least enjoyable activity on our trip and sometimes became a stressful task for me, as well as Marie, if it started getting late, Joseph was getting fractious, and we hadn't hadn't had our evening meal (often another problem since restaurants had to be within 4 or 5 metres of our car). Somehow we always found a suitable B&B in the end.

Marie got close enough to this historic
site to take this photo, but that was her limit

We started off touring the Wicklow mountains (inspiration for "The Meeting of the Waters by W. B. Yeats) including the beautiful valley of Glendalough. This area has many exceptionally beautiful scenic roads and mountain passes and Marie enjoyed th
e tour just like any other tourist. However, when we got to Glendalough, Marie missed all the best bits where you need to walk around the historic sites and the scenic lakes. But we were able to stop here and there so that Joseph and I could have a look around and get a little exercise.

Marie was being very brave this day to venture so
far into this site.
We visited Cashel monastry ruins. Marie was only able to get to explore the buildings at the perimeter of this historic site, but for her it was a big achievement.

A traffic jam in Killarney!!?? It's the wedding
following the happy couple on their way
to their
reception venue. No one can get past
them on THIS
road! The 2 photos below this
were taken beside
lakes in Killarney.
We toured the area around the lakes of Killarney, but were only able to see some of the lakes properly. However, this was a particularly enjoyable trip. We happened on a wedding party leaving a church and setting off (towards a reception venue?). The church nestled in a small, deep valley and the wedding party was a convoy of
assorted vehicles snaking up the
single-track mountain road around hairpin bends and perched on ancient embankments. The party stopped at various scenic spots (and there were many of these) for a photograph or two or more. No one was able to pass the convoy, so we and several vehicles behind us followed slowly observing all that was going on. In the tradition of south west Ireland, no one was in the slightest hurry and it took us about an hour to reach the summit where the wedding party stopped off-road to allow the rest of us to pass. Ahead a little, the road followed the shore-line of one of the famous lakes. With the surface of the lake black and as smooth a glass, and surrounded by barren uninhabited mountains, the vista was simultaneously surreal and incredibly peaceful. Later, we found our very own deserted lake and stayed there until the sun set...

A typical Dingle village (just after a shower)
The Dingle peninsula offers a scenic road which follows the coast, punctuated by villages of gaudily painted ancient houses. Lots of places to stop the car and commune with nature and/or the seagulls. We visited a pottery where ancient Celtic design met contemporary in a perfect harmony...

Modern sculptures from traditional materials!
Heading from Ireland's west coast to the east coast, we stopped off at a non-descript village in the middle of nowhere. At the edge of the village was a sculpture park, with very modern sculptures made from local stone (see photo). Ireland is full of surprises!

We drove through the (river) Boyne valley, where the oldest complete buildings in the world are situated. These are burial chambers, and, at 5,000 years old, predate the pyramids. The most famous of these is Newgrange. We were able to drive to the perimiter of the site and take a photograph, but agoraphobia once more reduced the enjoyment factor, since Marie wasn't able to visit and explore the burial chamber and could only admire it from afar...

Dublin - one of Europe's most beautiful cities and one of the most dynamic, with over 50% of the population aged under 25 - was an anticlimax. We could only see the city by car, since there was nowhere to park near anywhere that we would like to have gone. Joseph got (understandably) bored and irritable. Disappointing.

Wexford, near the ferry terminal is an attractive, prosperous busy town. Marie felt more at home here and we spent several hours exploring its shops.

After taking the ferry back to South Wales, we spent a couple of days exploring the area while heading in the general direction of home.

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