Ireland and the British Isle Part 4
Now I haven’t said anything yet about the typical breakfast in these different countries. There were few choices other than the English or Scottish or Irish breakfast and they all consisted of the same things. There was ham that had been fried up like bacon, sausages that were extremely bland unlike our flavorful sausages here in Wisconsin and eggs. In Scotland you could add haggis to the menu. Haggis, according to Wikipedia, “is a savory pudding containing sheep’s pluck (heart, liver and lungs); minced with onion, oatmeal, suet, spices, and salt, mixed with stock, and traditionally encased in the animal’s stomach and simmered for approximately three hours. Most modern commercial haggis is prepared in a sausage casing rather than an actual stomach.”
Otherwise, as far as food choices, not much to choose from. Needless to say we quickly grew tired of bacon and sausage. England is known for its fish and chips so while I was there I tried it at least three times on this trip and I have to say I was a little disappointed. It tended to have a fishy smell and not a lot of flavor,
Back in Dublin we rented another car and headed west-northwest again. The other side of Dawn’s family came to the states from Roscommon County in central Ireland. It rained throughout our drive to the town of Roscommon. When we arrived we tried to find the ruins of Roscommon Castle and Roscommon Abbey. While we were looking we spotted a very large church and made our way toward it. We eventually pulled into the parking lot. As we prepared to take pictures cars began pulling in and parking. We realized it was Sunday and that service must be coming up. So we decided to go to church. It was a Catholic church. We sat through mass and afterwards took pictures of the inside.
We found the castle and the abbey and paid our respects and then proceeded on to Boyle, which is also in Roscommon County and a town associated with Dawn’s ancestors. On the way there we took a side trip to Strokestown to visit the Irish Famine Museum.
In Boyle we stopped for the night at the Abbey House Bed and Breakfast next to Boyle Abbey and on the Boyle River.
The only other people spending the night there were a group of cousins, a lady and her husband from Colorado and two ladies from Chicago area. One of which we discovered owns a timeshare on Lake Wisconsin. They were traveling with a private tour guide that would take them wherever they desired so they were mixing site seeing with ancestor chasing and a family wedding.
The next day we headed north to Sligo and on to Donegal. The ancestors of my grandmother on my mother’s side came from Donegal County and particularly a village called Inver.
We checked out a few of the communities listed in a family history of the Rogers family.
Inver was a small village located on Donegal Bay. What a beautiful area! I can’t believe my ancestors left to come to Upper Michigan. I’d love to learn the family history and their reasoning.
We were desiring some time along the water so we found a road that went down to a public beach. We walked and walked checking out shells and taking in the views. We were pretty much the only ones on the beach. A lady on a horse rode by at one point and another lady with two dogs came through at another but that was it.
As we made our way back to the car a young black lab-mix dog appeared out of nowhere. He ran up to me and stopped about 15-feet away, picked up a stick and brought it over and dropped it at my feet. I can take a hint. I picked it up and threw it. He ran and got it and brought it back. I did it again. After a few times I deferred the game to Dawn and the two of them played chase-the-stick all the way back to the car. As we prepared to get in the car he waited at the head of the road waiting for us to follow. He stayed until we got in the car and then disappeared. About three quarters of a mile up this one lane road to the beach there he sat in the driveway leading to a house and he sat there until we were past before disappearing into the yard. We jokingly decided it was an ancestor reincarnated as a dog that just wanted to say hello.
We then went to Killybegs, a fishing town, where we had lunch. Then it was back on the road again, still headed north with a destination of the Giant’s Causeway. However we got sidetracked one more time as Dawn spotted a little town on the map just a few miles off our route called Carrigans, and while that’s not exactly Carignan as our last name is spelled, it was close enough. We couldn’t resist.
It was another tiny village. But there was a pub called the Carrig Inn so again we had to stop for a pint before heading on.
We then followed the coastal causeway until finally we stopped for the night in Coleraine in Northern Ireland just a few miles from Giant’s Causeway.
Giant’s Causeway is spectacular. It is made up of n estimated 40,000 columns of basalt rock from volcanic eruptions about 12-18 inches across and most of which are six-sided. It was formed by a freak happening of nature when the rock formed but it covers a long section of scenic coastline.
There is a very humorous legend about a giant that goes with the area. It seems that at some time many years ago a giant and his wife lived there. Immediately across the north channel just 26 miles away in Scotland there lived another giant. On clear days the two giants could see each other and they would yell across the water. As the years passed the two grew to dislike each other. Legend has it that one day the Scottish giant, who was the larger of the two giants, quickly built the causeway and he ran across the north channel. The Irish giant saw him coming and told his wife to quick dress him up like a baby. Out in the yard was a cradle the giant had been working on. The baby giant ran to the cradle and climbed in. When the Scottish giant entered the yard the wife yelled, “You better not wake my baby.” The Scottish giant stopped when he saw the baby hanging out of the cradle and thought to himself, “If the baby is that big, the father must be huge.” He turned and ran all of the way back to Scotland, knocking all of the middle column of rock back into the seas as he ran.
From there we traveled to the rope bridge that connects the mainland to a small island. But we only viewed it from a distance as it was a mile and a half walk to get to it and with Dawn being extremely afraid of heights we both knew she wouldn’t cross it anyway.
We traveled south through Belfast and stopped for the night in Banbridge.
The next day Dawn wanted to look for a linen factory. She uses waxed linen in her basket making and was under the impression that it was manufactured in Banbridge. We were directed to Ferguson Linen Factory. Upon inquiry there we were told that they were one of only a few linen companies still in existence in Ireland and yet no one there had ever heard of waxed linen. We bought some of their goods anyway.
Next stop was Newgrange. Newgrange is classified as a megalithic passage tomb built more than 5,000 years ago by Neolithic peoples. In all there are 39 mounds throughout this area. Most are small, but three are very large. Newgrange is one of the larger ones. These places are considered to be places of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. They were built before the pyramids and before Stonehenge. Newgrange contains an inner chamber where the cremated remains of the peoples were stored. A narrow passageway leads about a third of the way into the mound to the chamber. It was built so that at sunrise on five days around the winter solstice the chamber is lit up for 15 minutes by the light of the rising sun. It was an incredible experience to visit this site.
We also visited Knowth, a second and largest of the mounds. They have found evidence of inhabitation on this site for more than 6,000 years, including at one time having a castle of a king built on top of it.
It was time to go back to Dublin.
We found our hotel and settled in. The following day we took a bus tour of the city, the same as we had done in Bath and London. We hopped off in a couple of different spots. One was Trinity College where the Book of Kells is kept. The Book of Kells was created around 800 A.D. by monks at Columba Monastery. It a manuscript of the gospel books that is illustrated and ornamented in grand style.
Back on the bus the tour took us past the famous Guinness Brewery. Eventually we hopped off in the Temple Bar district. The area is made up of an assortment of pubs and restaurants and shops of every type. We got some lunch and later found a pub called Oliver St. John Gogarty’s Pub that featured live Irish music. What an enjoyable afternoon. A few pints of Smithwicks didn’t hurt things either.
The next morning we returned our car and caught the plane for home, tired but pleasantly so at that.