If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
here are some things to see

This second letter comes from a friend of a friend who offered to supply suggestions. —Editor

How nice to meet someone who appreciates Ireland! I've been there three times in the past six years and am looking forward to another trip as soon as the money is saved. The first time, in 1992, I went by myself, hired a rental car and circled the whole country (on the wrong side of the road) in two weeks. The second trip, in '94, my husband went along but I did the driving since I was "experienced" in traveling narrow, twisting, mountain roads. We spent a month and visited our daughter who was a student at University College, Dublin. (She had also fallen in love with the country) The third trip, with an older daughter in June of '95, was also a month and we went to the Midsummer's Day wedding of our Irish Studies student to a young Dubliner at a beautiful monastery right on the River Liffey.

Did you like Killarney? and Muckross House? I loved it in October but it was terribly crowded in June. Did you go over Moll's Gap when you were there and around the Ring of Kerry?

Each time we stayed at B and B's and now I'd never go any other way. The prices are reasonable, you can find them everywhere, the huge breakfast they serve keeps you satisfied until dinnertime, and most important, you get to meet the "real" people of Ireland. Also, I highly recommend renting your own car so you can get off the main tourist routes.

I suppose you've discovered the music pubs if you've been there twice. They were a high point of our travels. If you like traditional Irish music, Doolin (in County Clare), is great and it's near the Aran Islands if you want to make a trip out there. Some good restaurants nearby too. Dingle (on the Dingle Peninsula, of course) is a great little town for scenery, music, food, history, Irish language, bookshops and Fungie, a wild dolphin who swims in the bay with humans. And it's on the south end of Conor Pass, which is a narrow, exciting roadway over the mountain to Mrs. Griffin's Farmhouse. She is probably the nicest, warmest B and B lady I've met yet (slept at her big old place each time I went). Don't dare miss Glendalough the next time you go. It's serene and beautiful and seeped in history. Try to go over the Sally Gap when you're there if you can and if you like peat bogs, which I'm fascinated with. I think I visited every bookstore in every town we went through. Kenny's in Galway is just one of my favorites.

I could ramble on for several pages but I don't want to make you sorry you ever got "introduced" to me. On our second trip, we stayed with a Mrs.. Kennedy near Nenagh who was distantly related to JFK. The next time I go, I hope to be able to find where our ancestors came from. Think I've narrowed mine to County Donegal but can't prove it yet.

Happy travels,
"J-town friend"


The following letter was received from Peter Day, writing from the United Kingdom. He originally wrote to discuss a film review on our site, and when he found out I was going to Ireland offered to suggest things to see, saying it is his favorite place. In my reply I urged him to give me his list of best sites and told him I was looking for the "1000-foot cliffs" I'd seen in movies, and planning to visit Glendalough, where St. Kevin is memorialized. —Editor

Jon,

The 1000-foot cliffs are the Cliffs of Moher—most spectacular. Just north of Ennistymon. Nearby and most definitely worth the trip (whole day) the island of Inishmore. This is where Synge set Playboy of the Western World. Here are the remains of early churches and much older fortifications (Dun Aengus). A bit of a tourist magnet sadly but they only go to Dun Aengus and there is plenty more to see—good walking. Getting there is either a ferry trip or a flight on Air Arran from the airfield west of Galway—a 6-minute flight in 10 seaters (if its busy you get the co-pilot seat!).

All this leaves you a good distance from Glendalough! But an alternative is Clonmacnoise on the banks of the Shannon near Athlone. Equally important as Glendalough in religious terms and a different kind of setting. Also happens to be close to our favourite hotel anywhere in the world—Roundwood House just north of Mountrath. No TV or phone in the room and the building a little creaky but wonderful hospitality and food—try to be in the main house not the new rooms at the back.

And how could you miss Cashel, near Tipperary. Another hugely important religious site.

Further north on the West Coast near Westport is Craigh Patrick—the "holy mountain" from which point St. Patrick drove the serpents from Ireland. It looks across Clew Bay on the northern side of which there are large numbers of small islands left behind by retreating glaciers. At low tide you can walk from one to another. Legend has it that many victims of the famine are buried under the sands of Clew Bay. There is a wonderful bed and breakfast on the sea side of the road leading to Mulrany—a couple of miles before Mulrany.

I've never spent time in Ulster—and frankly with only 1 week I don't see how you can cover it all anyway!

Peter Day


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