Tonight we are in Kerry, Northern Ireland AKA Londonderry. We are staying at the Bishop’s Gate Hotel inside the walled city. I didn’t know it but Derry has an intact wall originally built in the 1600s to protect the English Protestants from the Catholic French and Irish.
After we checked into the hotel we took a walking tour. We learned about the long history of Derry and the more recent troubles that were so horrific here especially during the 1970s. From the wall we could see the Bogside neighborhood where Bloody Sunday took place and we could see the many political murals.
Before dinner we walked down to the River Foyle to see the Peace Bridge opened in 2011. It joins the predominantly Protestant side of the town to the predominantly Catholic side. For me Derry has been a historic and fascinating town full of history.
This morning we did a bit more Genealogically related exploring. First we checked out the Church of Ireland in The town of Cavan. I thought that was where my Great Great Grandparents we’re married. Then we visited the Cavan Genealogical Center. I had previously corresponded with them. We had a really interesting discussion with Brendon about Irish History and emigration. Among other things we learned that my Great Great Grandparents we’re married in St Peter’s Church, Bawnboy not in Cavan.
From Cavan we drove into Northern Ireland to the town of Magheralin. We stopped on the way to stretch our legs and walk around Palace Demesne in Armagh.
Tonight we are staying at a lovely Country House, Newforge House. We went for a walk around the gardens and neighborhood after we got here.
The owner of the Newforge House also cooks a gourmet dinner. We started with a fig and cheese tart then had Irish steak over freshly harvested vegetables and ended with a plum pudding with home made ice cream. And the figs were from the garden! After dinner we sat in the parlor by the fire and talked to other guests. One couple was from Armagh and a group of four women were from Nova Scotia.
We are staying at a B&B that I picked because my Great Great Great Grandfather Humphrey Robinson lived nearby. On our way to dinner tonight Duke and I went exploring and we found some ruins that are exactly where his farm was!! In the 1857 Griffiths Valuation (essentially a census) it shows exactly where he lived and the ruins we found today are in the same spot. In 1864 he emigrated with two sons to Brisbane, Australia. His daughter and her son Alexander, my Mom’s Grandmother, emigrated to Canada.
This morning we drove from the west coast inland to near Swanlinbar, County Cavan where we are tonight. Along the way we stopped and took a short walk to Glencar Waterfall.
Later we stopped and took a tour of Marble Arch Cave.
For dinner we had amazing steaks.
Yesterday when we visited the Cliffs of Moher it was hard to see much because of the fog and rain. This morning we visited again. The weather was much better and we could see a lot more. We walked around a bit and took some pictures. By the time we were leaving it was starting to rain again and visibility was getting worse.
The drive to Oranmore where we are tonight was short. We stopped to have a look at Dunguaire Castle.
We have a lovely view of this old cemetery from our hotel window.
We spent today exploring a wide variety of places not far from where we are staying in the south west corner of Ireland. We started out exploring by visiting two Stone forts Cahergal and Kilovarnoge. They were built more than a thousand years ago. Nearby we stopped at the ruins of Ballycarbery Castle.
Next we went to Valentia Island. That’s the island we could see from the bar we ate at last night. Before we left this morning I downloaded a guide to the island so we followed that.
First we stopped at the visitor center for the Skellig Islands. The Islands are a UNESCO world heritage site. One of the rocky island, Skellig Michael was the site of a monastery. During the Dark Ages the monks on Skellig Michael helped preserve literacy and sacred texts. Hikers can take a boat to the island and hike 600 vertical feet up to the monastic ruins. Based on the video we saw in the visitor center it looks like a very challenging boat ride and hike. Scenes from Star Wars VII were filmed on the Skellig Islands.
After the visitor center we stopped at an old Protestant cemetery.
Then a bit farther down the road we checked out the lighthouse.
To add something totally different to our day our next stop was to see rock footprints that are the oldest record of a vertebrate walking on land. According to the sign at the sight that was 385 million years ago!
Just down the road we stopped to see the slate quarry where the slate for the English Houses of Parliament and the Paris Opera house came from. It’s a religious shrine now.
Finally the highlight of the day was hiking the Bray Head Loop trail. From the top of the cliff we could see the Skellig Islands in the distance.
We are dinner at a bar in town. We had lamb shank and beef stew. They were both slow cooked in Guinness beer.