June 18, 2017

Rick Steves Ireland and Pre-Trip in Richmond Upon Thames (Greater London) Overview

Our Rick Steves "Best of Ireland in 14 Days" started in Dublin and ended in Belfast.  Joe Darcy led 28 of us around the island, with our own "Gang of Eight" making up a healthy contingent. Highlights included Dublin, Kinsale, Dingle, Golf, Galway, Cong, Harris's Hawk Experience, Westport, (London)Derry, Portrush and Belfast.

A "Gang of Four" subset got over our jet-lag in Richmond Upon Thames and London before flying to Belfast and taking the train to Dublin.

June 16, 2017

RS Ireland: Belfast Titanic Museum, Walking Tour, Farewell Dinner, St George's Market and Choir

Titanic Belfast is set on the dry dock where the ship was built.  This museum has six floors of high-tech and interactive exhibits, including underwater (12,500 feet down) footage of the wreck.

After our city tour and farewell dinner, we had the next day to explore Belfast on our own.  The St George's market hosted a choir singing for charity.  

June 15, 2017

RS Ireland: Portrush Walk, Bushmill's Distillery, Antrim Coast Drive, Dunluce Castle, Giant's Causeway, Portrush Golf Club and Hotel Concert

Carol and I began our morning with a gorgeous walk along the sea in Portrush.
Peering through the fence at the Royal Portrush Golf Club
Our first bus stop was a tour of Old Bushmill's Distillery with a requisite sample.

Irish Whiskeys have tasting notes too!
How whiskey volumes disappear with age

On a stormy night in 1639, half of the Dunluce Castle kitchen (with servants) fell into the sea.   

Hiking along the Giant's Causeway, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We waited in line to cross the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge but the park rangers shut it down due to high winds.  So disappointed!

The bus dropped us off at the Royal Portrush Golf Club so we could purchase our mementos.  We walked back into town, grabbed dinner in the hotel, and enjoyed folk music in the lobby.

This was one of our most active and favorite days.

June 14, 2017

RS Ireland: Westport to Portrush - Drumcliffe, Donegal Castle, (London)derry City Hall & Walking Tour

Several stops between Westport and Derry
Drumcliffe - sight of W.B.Yeats grave
Irish Stew
Donegal Castle
Nationalists call it Derry and Unionists call it Londonderry.  Our earnest guide implored us to tell our family and friends that "The Troubles" are over and to come visit!
Walls built by wealthy London guilds in 1613-1618 to protect their "investment"
Political Mural
St Augustine's "All Welcome"
Bank of Ireland Irish Currency
Group dinner at the lovely 55° North restaurant in Portrush

June 13, 2017

RS Ireland: Galway to Westport - Cong, Ashford Castle, Harris's Hawk Experience

Cong Abbey is a mixture of Gothic and Romanesque styles
A pleasant walk brought us to Ashford Castle and the Ireland School of Falconry.
Check out the beak!
We all got a chance to have a Harris's Hawk fly to us for a morsel of meat and then send it out again.

Lovely golf course but lacking 45 mph winds

June 12, 2017

RS Ireland: Galway Ferry to Inismor, Dun Aenghus Fort, Seven Churches, Lighthouse & Kelp

We took a ferry from Rossaveal to Kilronan on Inismor, the largest of the three Aran Islands.  
The Dun Aenghus Iron Age fort was the highlight of the day and ....
....  a little scary.  That spec of blue on the cliff edge is me!
A quick visit to the Seven Churches (8th-11th century)
Sandy is pointing to some amazing seaweed.  Rick Steves writes that people in the past used to create "land" by mixing seaweed, limestone sand and animal dung.
There is a light house way in the distance!