Ireland 2016.02 – Out of Dublin Highlights

I have been in Ireland for nearly three months, and I have seen some spectacular things! Here are some of those sights outside of Dublin (in roughly the order I saw them):
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One of the first times I went outside of Dublin was to Galway and the Cliffs of Moher on a tour bus. I’ve never taken a bus tour before, but I have a friend who works at an English language school in Dublin, and so two other friends and I went with her and her school. It’s a good way to see a lot, but it was very stuff, and the day was long. Plus, whenever we did stop, we only had on average ten minutes to take a dozen photos and then we all had to scramble back into the bus. When we arrived in Galway, we saw the cathedral and walked along the river to the ocean. We brought a picnic lunch, and wandered around the farmer’s market.

Galway Cathedral
The Latin Quarter in Galway
A wild monkfish appeared!


One of our stops on the way from Galway to the Cliffs of Moher was along the ocean, where many of the rocks had holes in them.

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Cliffs of Moher

After we left Galway, we stopped a couple more times to take photos of cool stuff.
Ireland doesn’t have mountains like we have in British Columbia, but we had to cross some (almost) mountains to get from Galway to the Cliffs, and they were pretty spectacular, with bare stone tops butting right up to bright green fields that had been back-breakingly claimed from the mountains generations ago.
We arrived at the Cliffs of Moher, and it was, of course, windy and rainy. But it was still beautiful, and the weather cooperated long enough to take photos and walk around a bit. I was pretty disappointed that I couldn’t find any Princess Bride things in the gift shop, as the Cliffs of Insanity were filmed at the Ciffs of Moher.
The drive back was pretty bad, we got stuck in traffic, and I had the beginnings of a cold. Great fun anyways!

The Cliffs of Moher

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Giant’s Causeway

I have wanted to see Giant’s Causeway for years, ever since I read an article about it in a magazine. And it definitely did not disappoint. The causeway was created by the giant Finn MacCool who wanted to fight a Scottish giant named Benandonner, who turned out to be a lot bigger than Finn. So he beats a hasty retreat, with Benandonner following on the Causeway. Finn is only saved because his wife is brilliant and disguises him as a baby. When Benandonner shows up and sees how big Finn’s “baby” is, he figures the father must be absolutely enormous! Benandonner flees back to Scotland, destroying the Causeway behind him, leaving only the ends still standing.
The Causeway was definitely made this way, not with volcanoes or science or however you want to spoil the fun.

Technically not Giant’s Causeway, but a nearby ocean cave




People wedge coins into the cracks of the stone in a certain spot at the Causeway

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I was able to catch a lift with a friend up to Belfast for the day. I spent almost all of it at the Ulster Museum and Botanic Gardens, so I didn’t really see much outside of that. The museum was free, as a lot of museums in Europe apparently are, and it was really great. One of my favourite exhibits was one with all kinds of stones and minerals, and a periodic table of the elements with actual samples (minus, of course, the very expensive/deadly/unstable ones).



These monstrous deer used to live in Ireland, but have been extinct for several thousand years.
A real periodic table!
I found a Disney villain in the museum

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Hill of Tara

Playing tag-along again, I was able to spend a whole day seeing some of the historic sights just northwest of Dublin. The first stop was the Hill of Tara, which was the historic seat of the high kings of Ireland. It is an archeological site that contains several ancient monuments and mounds.



A statue of St. Patrick looks serenely out across the countryside

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Bective Abbey

Leaving the Hill of Tara and heading for Trim Castle, we drove past a ruin that was once Bective Abbey. You can just wander all through it, and the weather was spectacular that day, so we got some pretty great photos.




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Trim Castle

Trim Castle is the largest Norman Castle in Ireland, and the tour of the keep was excellent. It has been restored enough that one can go inside and climb right up to the top after circling through the various rooms and towers. As always with castles built for defense, I was surprised at how small the actual space inside is.

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Hill of Slane

Last major stop in our tour of the area, we went over to Slane to visit the Hill of Slane, which features in the history and legends of St. Patrick. From the top of the hill, you can see the Hill of Tara, which is why St. Patrick is said to have lit a fire on the Hill of Slane during a druidic feast. On the hill, there is an old church with graves places right in the middle of the ruin’s floor, and the remains of an old college.