So, I am off to Ireland.
Day one was not very exciting, a three + hour drive, mostly motorway to Pembroke to catch the Irish Ferries boat to Rosslare (about an hour south of Dublin). Weather fair, traffic light. One good thing about the Motorways in the UK (away from the big cities) is that you can count on making good headway. Speed limit 70mph and most are doing more. I have only seen one highway patrolman since I arrived, and though they use speed cameras, they put up signs to tell you where they are! Gotta love those Brits.
I had a 2:25pm departure, so planned to get there with at least an hour to spare. A thunderstorm an hour out resulted in stopping to put the hood (top) up, which of course made it stop raining. I got to the port with 50 minutes to spare only to find the parking lot almost full of cars in line to board the ferry. I had a reservation, so no problem, but my “priority boarding” pass was useless. I was almost the last to board and disembark. In any case, the four-hour ride was smooth, if not particularly scenic. I had a Club Class seat, which was not all that expensive, but got me free lunch and drinks on the observation deck, with good view seating, so worth it. The ship held about 200 cars and a goodly number of semis and buses, with four passenger decks. There was an Irish pub, a kid’s fun zone, and even a deck of private cabins (which I guess are used on longer voyages and at night). Anyway, another experience and adventure.
FIRST BEER IN IRELAND
My hotel for the night was only 10 miles away from the port and turned out to be a very nice B&B in the little village of Killinick in Wexford County. But before I could get there, I had to pass through Customs at the dock. For some reason I was the only one stopped for passport check (yes, I remembered to bring it), and they insisted on taking it to the office to stamp it…. like I really cared about the souvenir! I was the very last car to leave the dock. So much for priority boarding!
Day two was my first Irish day. First stop, Waterford, home of the cut crystal of the same name and (most important to me) the first Viking settlement in Ireland (914AD). Most people think that the Vikings were coastal raiders, but in fact, many left Norway intending on settling elsewhere. Waterford is on the river Barrow, and a good 50 miles from the ocean. The other interesting fact I learned was that Waterford Crystal has gone bust twice, once in 1851 and again in 2009 during the last global recession. It’s now back (the trademark alone must be worth a fortune), but somehow when I passed the museum and showroom, the Jag refused to stop. We are here to drive, not shop!
THESE PIX MIGHT NOT LOOK LIKE MUCH, BUT THERE IS 400 MILLION YEARS WORTH OF GEOLOGY SHOWING HERE IN THE VARIOUS LAYERS OF ROCK!
The route for the day took a generally coastal bearing along Ireland’s southern end, via County Kilkenny and eventually into County Cork. Lovely two-lane roads with rarely another car in sight. Good roads too, not those pot holed monsters in England. Great views all day. I stopped in Bunmahon to visit the copper mining museum, small but very interesting. The mine shafts were right on the cliffs above the sea and many of the tunnels actually sent under the seabed. The mines played out about 1870.
BIGGEST PIECE OF SOLID COPPER ORE IN IRELAND
MODEL OF STEAM ENGINE USED TO BRING THE ORE FROM 1000 FEET BELOW GROUND LEVEL.
After wandering a bit, I ended up in Youghal for lunch, another old Viking port, with lots of history and a very nice harbor. I had been dodging squalls all morning (mostly successfully) but eventually one or two caught me out. I had put the hood down before leaving my hotel, and if you can keep going at least 40 mph, you don’t get wet!
HOPE YOU CAN READ THE PLAQUE ON THE WALL. IF NOT CLICK ON THE IMAGE AND SELECT VIEW IN SEPARATE TAB TO ZOOM IN. DO YOU REMEMBER THE FILM?
Finally, near the end of the day I came to Midleton. Now I miss my dear wife, Cindi, (and my kids and grandkids) greatly, but travelling alone does have it’s perks. When the Jameson Distillery came up on the right, there was no hesitation (and nobody to ask permission of!). Great tour. Enjoy the photos. At the end of the tour, we did a tasting. Jameson’s (triple distilled, look it up), Johnny Walker Black Label (typical double distilled Scotch whisky, the world’s best seller), and Jack Daniel’s (single distilled). It was interesting doing a side by side comparison, there are definite variations that would not be noticeable without side by side. When the host asked which our favorite was, he was a bit put off (Brit speak) when I raised my hand for the Jack!
THE WATERWHEEL POWERED ALMOST EVERYTHING, INCLUDING THE MILL, PUMPS, COOLING WATER, ETC.
HALF OF A GRINDING WHEEL THAT MADE THE BARLEY INTO GRIST
THIS IS THE BUILDING THAT HELD THE BARLEY UNTIL IT WAS NEEDED. ON HOT DAYS THE GRAIN WOULD START TO FERMENT AND OUTGAS. THERE WAS A SIGNIFICANT CHANCE OF EXPLOSION, SO ALL THESE WINDOWS WOULD BE OPENED.
“STILL THE ONE”. AFTER 100+ YEARS, THIS IS STILL THE BIGGEST STILL IN THE WORLD. HOLDS ENOUGH TO FILL AN OLYMPIC SWIMMING POOL!
I passed on the free parting drink (believe it or not) and headed out to find my bed for the night in Kinsale, a beach resort about 15 miles south of Cork. This one is a bit more adult than most resort towns I have passed so far (most resembling Santa Cruz in the 60’s). Supposed to be seafood heaven. I am about to go to dinner. Will report below.
Two hours later………………..
Dinner was great. Crab claws and Italian Pinot Grigio
Ok, we are going to try something new. If you want to follow my routes, then click on the URL below and it will take you to Google Maps and a display of my route today. Hope this works. When it opens you can zoom, scroll, etc., just like on regular Google Maps.
LUNCH: A SUPER SEAFOOD CHOWDER, ABOUT 50% SALMON, SHRIMP AND COD, I COULD NOT FINISH IT. ACCOMPANIED BY A SMITHWICK’S, #1 BEER IN IRELAND.
CRAB CLAW DINNER, SORT OF LIKE FLORIDA STONE CRAB LEGS. YUMMY.
More in a couple of days.