Onwards to Inch beach on the Dingle peninsular via Tralee. Again, it is blowing a very strong wind, so we park up at the car park and go in to Sammy beach bar for a pint and a meal, fish and chips and Guinness are becoming a regular pattern on this trip. Next morning we stroll a few metres onto the massive beach, it is very much a kite flying day, Dave last flew his kite at Le Crotoy and our daughter bought him a new one for his birthday so he had great fun whilst I try to film him, not easy as I’m as blind as a bat without my reading glasses, also I’m the gopher when it crash lands so I get my daily exercise!
Kite fun is over and it is time to drive around the Dingle peninsular, we have heard so much about this loop drive and it didn’t disappoint us, the views as always stunning, it just gets better and better, Slea Head road R559 is narrow but enough stopping places for a photo at this time of year, wouldn’t want to come when it is busier and there are coach loads doing it, definitely should drive it clockwise for this reason too and also so as not to be near the rock face, we really enjoyed the 2-3 hours that we spent on this drive.
There is another road called the Connor pass R560, don’t do it in a motorhome as there are many areas with overhanging rocks, we’ve heard many a tale.
We have run out of time to do the rest of the Wild Atlantic Way, we were planning to head today to do the Ring of Kerry, we rang Stena Ferries as we have a flexi ticket but unless we go in the next couple of days it will cost far too much to move the booking, as it stands on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 3.30 a.m. we only pay as much as a car so we are sticking with our original booking in a few days time.
It’s a long drive for Dave as we are heading down to Ardmore Co Cork, we are members of Facebook group Total Motorhome Ireland (TMI) and we have heard that there is a place known by many as Dicks Field, owned by Ardmore farmer, Dick! We were not disappointed when we turned up to find a very large field overlooking a pretty and unspoilt blue flag beach with views over to a cliff top called Rams Head, there is only one other motorhome here and it’s totally peaceful, we grab our coats and go for a walk into the town but it is deserted, it’s off season so there are no tourists, just a local shop open and the pub, well Dave has had a very long drive so he is up for a pint of Guinness, on first appearance the Antobar pub was old and drab and a bit bare however the roaring log burner and the friendly welcome of the landlord soon made up for that, he tells Dave that the Liverpool game will be showing tonight and a few locals who support the Reds will be there too, so Guinness is downed and off back to Pogo for a quick and simple tea of spaghetti and cherry tomatoes in garlic and herb butter, we meet farmer Dick on the way and he is a chatty witty character, ‘’if you don’t see me’’ he says ‘’just put the money in the honesty box when you leave.’’
We really enjoyed our 2 days in Dicks field and decided that we were going to have a no phones, computers or social media policy, Dave read his books and I knitted baby clothes for our grandchild due in the New Year, it was totally a chilled out experience.
We took a lovely loop walk over Rams Head, passing Declans well named after Saint Declán a Munster saint who preceded Saint Patrick in bringing Christianity to Ireland. He was regarded as a patron saint of the Déisi of East Munster, walking back into the town and taking time to look at the oratory, round tower and also a graveyard where 9 sailors were buried after their ship SS Ary sank in the area, they had set sail from Port Talbot South Wales in 1947 during the big freeze with their cargo of 600 tons of coal on an SOS journey to help the Irish people who were needy, sadly only 1 person survived the sinking.
Leaving Ardmore, we head to Waterford, I would like to go and look at the Crystal factories, but we haven’t time so we will have to do that on the next visit. Dave has spotted part of the Greenway cycle trail starting about 6 miles out of the City, it’s a cold blustery day but I’m up for it however after 3 miles my legs are really uncomfortable, my seat is too low, a couple of old Irish guys try to help but we need an Allen hex key, I struggle on but I’m not enjoying it so we turn back, Dave does well to hide his disappointment but the whole point of this new life of ours is to do what we enjoy and I don’t likey the bikey!! I’d rather walk!
Setting off for our overnight stop we arrive at Ballymacaw cove, well I can only describe this place as like something out of an Enid Blyton novel, it felt like we were in the famous five, down quite a long and winding road which became a lane to a tiny cove surrounded and protected by the hills on either side, not a building in site, a tiny sandy beach all to ourselves.
Not all to ourselves as it turned out, a lady in her 60’s came and stripped off and swam for at least 40 minutes, it must have been freezing, there was no sun getting through the high hills and at one point she swam into a cave, I was watching intently to see if she came back out! We had a peaceful sleep here until 3.30 a.m. when a car and 2 blokes turn up and chat for at least an hour! what on earth they were doing down there at that time I don’t know, we couldn’t even understand their thick Irish accents so no idea what that was all about?
We are Belfast bound the next morning and on a hunt for LPG as ours ran out as Dave tried to make a cup of tea, well it wasn’t easy to find any but luckily the third place we tried had some so the lovely brown nectar of which I rely on every morning could be consumed, ah that’s better! Dave has registered for on-line payment for the M50 toll just in case we forget to pay by the designated time of 8 p.m. and avoid a fine.
Dave noticed on this supermarket receipt that Irish made products are identified with a clover.
Driving through the Wicklow mountains was very enjoyable as all the colours of the heath and trees are turning golden brown and orange leaves on their way to a rich red are appearing, we parked high up in Djouce 725metres high, between Sally Gap and Roundwood, overlooking Lough Tay and Lough Dan and had a little wander around, the sun is shining beautifully, there are some extremely steep drops but as usual there are the do or dare crazies! A coffee van is parked up so we sample a gourmet coffee between us, seems daft when we are parked next to it but we do love our coffee! It was another blustery night, we have suffered with the wind on this journey but that’s mostly because we want the views of the coast or the hills, so the wind comes hand in hand with that, can’t have one without the other.
Up early to walk part of the Wicklow Way Walking route, this is in the hills behind Pogo and consists of boardwalks built over the heathland, it is blowing a seriously strong wind so we get wrapped up and head off, I have to wear sunglasses even on a cloudy day if it is windy as my eyes water so badly, it’s steepish for about 1 mile and the boardwalk is narrow, my eyes are running and I literally have to keep stopping to wipe them every minute otherwise I cannot see where I am going! the wind takes my legs at one point and I lose my balance, the drops are steep nearby, again I’m not enjoying this and it’s very cold, I didn’t put gloves or scarf on, I head back after 1.5 miles and leave Dave to carry on, Pogo is rocking too when I get back but I get a nice lunch of hot soup on for the Wanderer when he returns.
Talking of food we have been eating a lot of vegetarian food, in 29 days we have eaten 4 meat meals, 10 veggie, 9 fish and 6 Vegan, mostly the veggie and vegan have been cooked by me in Pogo, we are both enjoying eating less meat, I feel our meals are more interesting and it is definitely cheaper. (I’ve omitted the bacon butties! In the meat count)!
Our last night before reaching Belfast was in a council run Aire at Castleblaney, it has room for 2 motorhomes and is in a pleasant copse surrounded by a children play park and Lake Muckno, well done Castleblaney Council! there are two Islands in the lake, White Island and Black Island, after a lazy night and an Indian takeaway and an expensive bottle of wine, €10 was the cheapest bottle for a bog standard sauvignon blanc from Costcutter! Ireland is not cheap that’s for sure, anyway the curry and vino went down well, and it was a very quiet night on the Aire, a lovely stroll was had the next day, but we didn’t find any castle? Dave went out and had a nice bike ride for a couple of hours and I caught up with some phone calls.
The last stop on this tour is the Belfast Titanic Museum and we are prepared to pay the expensive entrance fee of £18.50 each, the museum car park has a height barrier however there is a very large car park nearby with no height restriction, and for £8 for 6-8 hours but cash only, it’s not bad for a City, we really enjoyed the Titanic museum, it’s an impressive building in itself.
At first, we tour the Irish Linen industry from times gone by and then on to ship building and all the trades that were involved in the building of ships like the Titanic before getting onto the history of the ship itself, the sheer size of which had to be seen to be believed.
At 269 metres long in 1914 it was the biggest passenger ship of its time.
825 Tonnes of coal per day was shovelled by 176 men into the furnaces
10 tonnes of Ash were dumped into the sea each day!
100,000 people watched the launch.
2,222 people sailed including crew on that fateful voyage
It was equipped to carry 64 Life boats but only had 20! It is said in order not to clutter the decks, enough for only one third of the capacity of passengers which was more than the legal requirement!
2-month-old Millvena Dean survived and lived to age 97
1st Class passengers were given a book of music containing 352 songs and the musicians had to know all of them in case of a request.
The band played for 2 hours 5 mins until the ship sank.
The engineers kept the radios and lights running until they themselves went down with the ship.
Guglielmo Marconi had a ticket but didn’t sail as did Milton Hershey of chocolate fame.
£7.5 million was the cost of building the ship and the James Cameron blockbuster Titanic in 1997 cost £20 million
When we finished we both said that we had enjoyed the museum and we had been about 4 hours in all, I now have a yearning to watch the Titanic movie again with Leonardo di Caprio and Kate Winslett.
Our Ireland tour has ended and as we head off to the Aire at Carrick Fergus to sleep before our early morning crossing tomorrow we reflect on what an amazingly beautiful and friendly place this has been from our first views of the beautiful Antrim coast in Northern Ireland which was the biggest surprise, to our drives and stops along the wild Atlantic Way, it has been an absolute pleasure, we didn’t manage to do all that we planned and there is so much yet to see, from the Lakes inland and the Cities we missed, the many castles and museums, which means that we will just have to come back next year.
Ireland and your people we have loved you and we will return, until next time.
Cathy and Dave
GPS Inch Beach at Dingle, Co Kerry, free parking next to Sammys Bar N52.14217,W009.98148
GPS Red Fox Inn, near Lough Caragh, Co Kerry, free parking, free water tap, at the pub rear car park N52.07409,W009.88270
GPS Dicks Field, Ardmore, Co Waterford, beach side site with waste facilities and fresh water but no toilets, N51.95694,W007.72082
GPS Ballymacaw Cove, Co Waterford, free spot, deserted and remote N52.13995,W007.05613
GPS Tinniehinch, on R759, Wicklow Mountains, Co Wicklow, free parking in the mountain range N53.10500,W006.25465
GPS Castleblayney, Co. Monaghan, Motorhome aire, free authorised parking, no facilities, good lakeside walks
GPS Belfast Titantic Museum N54.60809, W005.90998
GPS Belfast Titantic Museum, nearby parking, £8 for 6-8 hours N54.60756,W005.90803