Tag Archives: Guinness

Thursday Doors – Shops in Ireland

“only in Ireland” is a common phrase in the Emerald Isle and it seems to me that this collection of doors illustrates that rather well.  My favourite is the Post Office with the gas cylinders stored right next to the petrol pump…

Angel WorldDick MacksLittle CheeseMoriartyMother HubbardsoBriens BakeryOHerlihyPost OfficeRecollections

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

Thursday Doors – Pubs in Ireland

I don’t want to give the wrong impression but I confess to visiting a lot of pubs in Ireland.

Click on an image to scroll through the Gallery…

Thursday Doors is a weekly feature allowing door lovers to come together to admire and share their favourite door photos from around the world. Feel free to join in the fun by creating your own Thursday Doors post each week and then sharing your link in the comments’ on Norm’s site, anytime between Thursday morning and Saturday noon (North American Eastern Time).

 

Entrance Tickets, The Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several hundred square metres and was completely full of cars, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.

The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it.  This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.

Read the Full Story…

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

Twenty Good Reasons to Visit Ireland

Northern Ireland Blue FlagCobh Waterfront IrelandConor Pass Dingle IrelandGiant's Causeway Northern IrelandHackets pub Schull West Cork

“Take every praiseworthy characteristic of the Irish pub – democratic; spontaneous; generous; sociable; wild; nostalgic; cossetting – and you have to amplify all those characteristics to explain the charm of this little bar, with its stone floor, with its artworks, with its punky staff, with its excellent drinks and its soulful cooking. Hackett’s has the warmth of a hearth – you are drawn to it as you are drawn to a crackling fire, all energy and comfort.” – John and Sally McKennas’ Irish Guides

The Dark Hedges Northern IrelandBlarney-Castle1Yellow Window KinsaleThe Burren County Clare Ireland

“The Burren is a country where there is not enough water to drown a man, wood enough to hang one, nor earth enough to bury him.”

Ireland Beach

“At the very edge of Europe, as far west as you can go in Ireland…. once described by National Geographic as the most beautiful place on earth… a place where the mountains roll into the ocean.”

Ireland Inch BeachMizzen Head Ireland 1Clonakilty Green Door

“Dubliner seems to me to have some meaning and I doubt whether the same can be said for such words as Londoner or Parisian” – James Joyce

Ireland Father Ted Tour Craggy Island Parochial House

‘Are you right there Father Ted?’

Ireland Mizzen HeadTitanic Museum Belfast

“Certainly there was no sailor who ever sailed salt water but who smiled – and still smiles – at the idea of the unsinkable ship” –  Charles Lightoller (Surviving Officer) in ‘Titanic and Other Ships’

Ballyvaughan Ireland

“Irish road signs are idiosyncratic in the extreme… a masterpiece of disinformation.  A sign is designed to lure you towards a place that you’ll never see mentioned again, unless it is marked in two separate directions on the same post.”  – Pete McCarthy

No Grave digging signTraditional Irish MusicIreland Guiness

Weekly Photo Challenge: Orange

Restaurant Ennistymon Ireland

In Ireland they like their pubs in bright colours so they do…

After Guinness and sandwiches we left the busy pub and made our way into the centre of the city passing first through a street of brightly coloured buildings, yellow, green, red, vibrant, vivid and loud, the sort of thing that would have town planners in England descending into a frenzy of planning application refusals.

Read the full story…

And thanks to Hugh at “Hugh’ Views and News”  (a very good blog) for giving me a memory nudge about this picture!

Weekly Photo Challenge: Reward – Street Entertainment

Galway Street Entertainment

By now it was a glorious afternoon and the temperature was continuing to rise (‘hotter even than Spain’) as we walked back through the main streets where there were street entertainers every few yards, some playing traditional instruments, some improvising on spoons and bits of wood and metal and others standing around as statues.

I make it a rule not to give money to beggars who just sit around looking sorry for themselves with a big scruffy dog but I don’t mind throwing loose change in the collection box of someone who is working for a living so by the time we had walked the entire length of the street my pockets were empty of coins.

Read the full story…

 

Ireland, Dingle and Funghi the Dolphin

Dingle Harbour Ireland

“The bicycle shop that is a pub also sells vegetable seeds and items of hardware.  I go inside for an inner tube and some cabbage seeds , but I don’t really need them so I have a pint instead.” – Pete McCarthy

When I woke early in the morning I knew instinctively that it was going to be a good day because the sunshine was leaking into the room through the gaps in the curtains and a peek outside confirmed a blue sky and a golden yellow sun centre stage.

The Dingle Skellig hotel served a good breakfast – a full Irish which in truth was much the same as we call a full English but with a white pudding (black pudding without the blood) which was something I had never had before but found rather to my liking.

After breakfast we didn’t wait around too long at the hotel because the day was so fine we wanted to take a walk to nearby Dingle.  On account of the good weather we choose the coastal path route next to the bay where the sun was decorating the surface of the sea with a scattering of sparkling patterns like precious jewels carelessly thrown into the water and the meadow behind the sea wall was adorned with pretty wild flowers that were dancing like dainty ballerinas in the gentle breeze.

It was only a short walk and very soon we were in the harbour area where tourist boats and private yachts were moored up alongside fishing boats that had only recently returned and where crew were going through the daily chores in preparation for another fishing expedition later.

Funghi Dingle Dolphin

The most famous resident of Dingle is without doubt a dolphin called Funghi (a strange name I agree, I’d have called him Flipper or something more appropriately aquatic) who has taken up residence in the bay and will obligingly turn up to entertain holidaymakers when they take a boat ride out to find him.

The Dingle Dolphin Boat Tours Company is so confident that Funghi will appear and perform that they offer a one hour boat trip into the bay for €16 but free of charge if he fails to turn up. There is something about dolphins that sends people all weak kneed with excitement, like seeing the Northern Lights or a field of golden sunflowers and we are no exception so we purchased our tickets and climbed aboard the boat.

The sun continued to shine and the surface of the water was flat calm as the boat made its way out into the bay and expectation and excitement started to build in equal measure as everyone on board scanned the surface of the water to see the dolphin.

I wanted to see him of course but part of me was thinking that I’d seen one before so if he didn’t turn up then this would be a free boat ride but thirty minutes into the ride the surface of the water was broken and there was a flash of fin and a shiny grey back and so I knew then that we would have to pay up.

For fifteen to twenty minutes the skipper of the boat patrolled the bay looking for more sightings and sure enough Funghi kept appearing first to starboard and then to port as though he was just teasing everyone on board.  Just as the whole thing was getting rather tedious and I thought it would be good to go back to port the dolphin decided it was time for a show and he leapt out of the water several times sending plumes of water into the air and soaking people leaning over the railings trying to get a better view.  He kept this up for several minutes and then swam to to the shallow water and rested a while, no doubt to get his breath back.

Northern Ireland Blue Flag

It was a wonderful display and according to the crew not one that can be guaranteed every trip so when we returned to the port and it was time to pay up I was more than happy to hand over the money for the trip.  Some people might be critical of animal displays like this but it seems that Funghi enjoys this human interaction and he is completely free and wild and in no way compelled to give his daily aquatic performances.

After the excitement of the boat trip and the dolphin performance we now took a leisurely stroll through Dingle, along streets of brightly coloured shops and houses and I was astonished by the number of pubs. The ratio of pubs to population must surely be the highest that I have ever come across anywhere there was even a hardware store that was half shop selling nails and garden tools and half bar selling Guinness and Jamesons!

I liked Dingle and if yesterday Ballybunion had been quite appalling then this place was going straight into my personal top ten! It was lunchtime now so after a casual glance around the harbour front tourist shops we found a crimson pub with hanging baskets full of cascading flowers and had the obligatory lunch time Guinness before taking the coastal path back to the Dingle Skellig hotel.

Dingle Ireland Murphys Pub

More Dolphin Stories:

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Croatia

A Boat ride with Dolphins in Kefalonia

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Greece

A Boat Ride with Dolphins in Wales

Ireland, The Pubs

Dingle Ireland Murphys Pub

Eugene's Pub Ennistymon Ireland

Temple Bar Dublin Ireland

Vaughans Pub Kilfanora Father Ted

Ireland, The Cliffs of Moher and Ennistymon

Fenore Burren Ireland County Clare

I was still pondering how I might get my own back for the leaping salmon trick in Galway and at our next stop I had my opportunity…

At a place called Fenore where the barren grey rocks of the Burren meet the blue water of the Atlantic Ocean we stopped the car and walked across the fissures to the shore and then I pulled my trick, I feigned shock and when asked what was wrong told my companions that I had dropped the keys to the car and they had fallen down a very deep crack in the rocks.

We were miles from anywhere and before you could say the word crisis Kim and Pauline moved in an instant from slightly concerned to blind panic as we all got down on hands and knees and peered hopelessly into a narrow gap that seemed to go as far as the centre of the earth.  Arms were thrust into the crack and fingers probed for the missing keys, we looked for a stick that might help and looked back woefully at the car that was all securely locked with no access to a mobile phone.

It was a good trick but unfortunately I am not very good at keeping a good tease going and it wasn’t long before I could no longer suppress the smirk that was creeping across my face and my ruse was discovered but I was happy that I had got my own back for the phoney salmon sighting story.

Our next destination was the cliffs of Moher, an eight mile stretch of cliffs that soar vertically out of the sea to a height of nearly seven hundred feet at their highest point.  They are the third most visited visitor attraction in Ireland after the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo and attract nearly a million visitors a year which is even more than the Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland.  They are so famous that in 2011 they were included in the final twenty-eight candidates in a global on-line poll to find the New Seven Wonders of Nature. 

They didn’t make the final seven but then neither did the Grand Canyon or the Galapagos Islands!

Ireland Cliffs of Moher

The road was quiet and there weren’t a great deal of traffic so I was shocked when we arrived there and found a car park that covered several acres and was completely full of vehicles, I couldn’t imagine where they had all come from, it was as though they had been beamed down from space.

The second shock was the admission fee which at €6 seemed excessive to me so at the pay booth we asked for four senior tickets at only €4 each and got away with it.  This was a massive shock to Kim who sulked for the next few minutes because she hadn’t been challenged and later that night she used a lot more miracle night cream than she normally does.

There is no doubt that the cliffs are a wonderful sight but they have been commercialised with a vengeance with tarmac pavements, concrete viewing areas, an arcade of touristy craft outlets and a visitor centre with restaurants and a gift shop and the cliff top walk has been sunk below the level of the ground where visitors are safely separated from the land which ends surprisingly abruptly above the sea and the vertical drop beyond by a metre high rock wall which effectively destroys any effective communion with nature.

The Irish Independent newspaper include the cliffs in a list of Ireland suicide black spots* so I suppose it also prevents people throwing themselves over the side…

I like my cliff top natural environment experiences to be more natural, moody and solitary, rather like Wordsworth wandering through his field of daffodils or John Masefield going down to the sea again but that was impossible here, there were hundreds, perhaps thousands of people swarming over the hills and any natural experience has been brutally denied so I came away cursing Clare County Council for building the carbuncle that is the visitor centre and feeling a little deflated and uninspired by the experience we walked back down the path past the coach park and the buses with growling engines and returned to the car park.

It was late afternoon by now so we continued the short distance towards the town of Ennistymon and found our accommodation for the night, The Grove Mount Bed and Breakfast, perched on the top of a hillside just outside the town.  It was a small and simple place and Sheila, the owner, made us welcome and gave us some advice about dining options for later on.  This didn’t take her very long because it turned out that there was only one so to be on the safe side we drove down to the town and booked a table.

We explored the main street and came across a pub called Eugene’s with a plaque on the wall declaring that it had been awarded the James Joyce Pub Award for being an authentic Irish Pub.  This was based on the fact that Joyce based many of his fictional characters on real people that he met in pubs.  It also had a painting of the Father Ted cast and whilst we stopped to photograph it a man who had far more drink than was good for him offered the information that the crew of the show used to stay in the Falls Hotel just around the corner but preferred to drink at Eugene’s.  We thought that we might come back later.

Back at the accommodation I remembered about the car and the question that I had asked earlier about the engine blowing up so I phoned the car hire company.  I explained about the mudslide of dashboard warning lights but they didn’t seem terribly concerned.

I told them that there was a reoccurring message that a service was due and the person on the other end of the line immediately diagnosed this as the problem and that it was therefore perfectly safe to drive.  Just to be sure I asked her the same question that I had asked earlier at Dunguaire Castle, ‘is the car going to blow up?  ‘Oh no’ she replied casually ‘It will be perfectly all right’ as though this was a question that she was quite used to dealing with.  On a scale of one to a hundred my confidence levels went up one notch –  from zero to one.

Eugene's Pub Ennistymon Ireland

* Most sources claim about ten suicides a year at the Cliffs of Moher but it seems that there are no really accurate statistics available  – there are eight miles of cliffs and a raging ocean below so it is possible that many go unreported.

According to Wikipedia the three biggest suicide black spots in the World are:

  • Nanjing Yangtze River Bridge, Nanjing, China
  • Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
  • Prince Edward Viaduct, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

The three most popular suicide spots in England are the London Underground, the one hundred and sixty metre high cliffs at Beachy Head in Sussex and the two thousand two-hundred and twenty metre long Humber Bridge.

Click on an image to scroll through the gallery…

Ireland, The City of Galway

Galway Ireland

I confess that I was surprised to be able to sit at a table on the pavement because I had prepared myself for cool temperatures and lots of rain because the west of Ireland is one of the wettest places in Europe with some parts getting some precipitation for two hundred and twenty-five days a year.  Thankfully there was no sign of any unwelcome wet weather today.

After Guinness and sandwiches we left the busy pub and made our way into the centre of the city passing first through a street of brightly coloured buildings, yellow, green, red, vibrant, vivid and loud, the sort of thing that would have town planners in England descending into a frenzy of planning permission refusals.

Galway is the fourth largest city in Ireland and the streets were so busy I couldn’t help wondering why no one was at work.  There were a lot of tourists but also a great many local people spilling out of the pubs and restaurants onto the pavement all the way down the main street and down to the banks of the River Corrib which was flowing briskly towards the Atlantic Ocean.  Perhaps it was on account of the weather because a man in a bar told me that they were in the middle of a ‘heat wave’, ‘hotter even than Spain’ he proudly informed me.

At the bottom of the street we came to the Latin Quarter, so named because a very long time ago Galway carried out a lot of trade with Spain and Portugal (some of the ships of the Spanish Armada were shipwrecked along this coast in 1588) and then to the Spanish Arch, one of the few remaining sections of the old medieval town wall which by a twist of fate was severely damaged by a tsunami caused by the Lisbon earthquake of 1755.

Galway Ireland postcard

There were some nice gardens along the elevated bank of the river and as we strolled along we spoke to several fishermen who were casting lines into the water in the hope of catching a salmon which were making their way inland towards their spawning grounds in Lough Corrib just north of the city.  We walked past the abandoned and rotting salmon traps that haven’t been used for several years now and to the section of the river below the salmon weir where several fishermen were struggling to keep their balance against the flow of the water as they continuously and optimistically cast their lines and lures.  Behind them stood a solitary heron and he was a lot more successful in catching fish let me tell you.

Richard was keen to see a salmon jump the weir but after several minutes watching and waiting we had to concede defeat and move on.  As we did so Kim and Pauline both shouted out ‘there, there, did you see it? did you see it?’  We were taken in by this for a moment or two but then the tale became wilder than the salmon as they embellished the story with a four foot leap in the air.  I was annoyed by this because generally speaking I like to be the one that does the kidding and the teasing so on the walk back I decided that I would have to come up with something to get my own back (more on this in a later post).

Northern Ireland Blue Flag

By now it was a glorious afternoon and the temperature was continuing to rise (‘hotter even than Spain’) as we walked back through the main streets where there were street entertainers every few yards, some playing traditional instruments, some improvising on spoons and bits of wood and metal and others standing around as statues.  I make it a rule not to give money to beggars who just sit around looking sorry for themselves with a big scruffy dog but I don’t mind throwing loose change in the collection box of someone who is working for a living so by the time we had walked the entire length of the street my pockets were empty of coins.

Kim and Pauline went shopping now but Richard and I declined the opportunity to accompany them and instead went to get our train tickets for tomorrow’s journey to Dublin and to find an off-licence for some wine and gin which we sampled back at the hotel while we waited for the shoppers to return.

In the evening we returned to the main street which despite the fact that the shops were closed were even busier now with people ambling through the streets, music on every corner and the pubs and restaurants doing brisk business.  A restaurant that had caught our eye earlier was fully booked so we asked them for a recommendation and made a reservation for the following night and then found the alternative eating place and enjoyed a fine meal and a glass or two of red wine.

I wasn’t absolutely certain exactly what I was expecting of Ireland and the city of Galway but as we walked back to the hotel after a long day I knew for sure that I liked it!

Galway Street Entertainment