Go North!

So today was mostly a travel day, whereby I benefitted greatly from the practice and comfort in left side driving since I was heading to my next B&B. And needed to traverse quite a far ways to do so.

I had breakfast in the same dining room as my dinner the night earlier. It was a serve-yourself buffet affair. It was an interesting mix of the same level of attendant service (and dress code for the staff) but now with more of a family restaurant feel. I think there was going to be a wedding there today, just by some of the conversation I was overhearing.

The sleep in the king sized bed last night was wonderful. Especially compared to the first hotel I stayed at with the single bed with a pillow sized divot in the mattress. I’m pretty sure I slept sideways at one point last night because, well, I could. ;)

And it occurred to me as I was turning out the lights that I hadn’t heard anyone mention whether the castle was haunted. But I said meh, curled into my king sized princess bed and went to sleep. In the morning, I looked up to see my window and the room I was in was a new addition to the castle, right above the amazing spa.

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The writing desk in the castle room.

After a chat with the doorman, John (who indicated he heard a hint of a Northern Ireland accent on me, though I hadn’t gotten here yet), I hit the road. My first stop was the Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery.

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A passage tomb built in 3000-2000 BC.

Apparently part of a vast settlement here, I only saw two intact passage graves and one that had collapsed. One of the intact ones, Cairn G, has a light box over the entry which is aligned with sunset of the summer solstice. The only other one known to do that is Newgrange. Cairn G was fantastic – the passage was too low so I didn’t go in (plus it’s a historical site and I didn’t want to accidentally wreck it, and it’s someone’s tomb – despite taking photos I was still trying to show some respect). Inside, there looked to be carvings in the stones and two standing stones facing outward in front of a shelf (seen through the window box and just pointing my dSLR in with the flash up to see what I could capture). There was a “door” stone propped up in front of the passage that seemed grooved and worked (a hole through and through as well). I didn’t think to take iPod shots of it up close – sorry. I’ll do better at Newgrange. The other intact one had a low door which led to a low passage which looked like it might rise up into a rear room. Needless to say, I didn’t see that. It didn’t have the door covering either. The area is supposed to also have standing stone rings and foundations of the houses that were there back then, but it was pretty shrub covered and wet. And was a sheep pasture and frankly they didn’t like me wandering around – they kept bleating at me and running away. It was a 2-ish km hike in up the side of the mountain/hill on a farm road then additional “footpath” climbing to go see the mounds. And that much going back as well. I ported out some trash I’d found. Speaking of disrespect. *sigh*

So I stopped for gas once I got back to the highway. I doubled back on the 1.5 car lane way (and met two cars who both gave me right of way because they had the shoulder option). And then I headed north to Sligo (sly-go not slee-go – I learned that this morning from castle reception). I had wanted to stop and wander about town but I’d taken so long to hike that I opted to just go to Glencar waterfall (mentioned in Yeats’ poem The Stolen Child). So I motored through Sligo and found a brown sign that pointed me to it. And drove what felt like a really long way and felt like backtracking. And finally found it (after pulling over with a bunch of cars but they were stopping to get a photo of a ruined cottage in someone’s field, but the fellow encouraged me with directions) (that’s one thing I’ve learned is to not give up hope that you’ve missed what you were looking for – apparently the Irish tourism board thinks that telling you once is enough until you get there.)

No, I have *absolutely* no idea how Yeats could be inspired by this landscape… /sarcasm

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Mountains and sky of Co. Sligo and Leitrim

And then, I pulled into the parking lot for the waterfall (in Co. Leitrim, for the record, not Co. Sligo). The last picture was what I saw out my windshield. And I hiked the short path to the waterfall. More gorgeousness.

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Glencar Waterfall

It was surrounded by wild garlic. Mmm, tasty. ;)

Then headed back to my car, after absorbing the poetic loveliness, and thunder rumbled. Right on top of the mountain to my left, which was not that far away. I was in a valley – do you know what thunder reverberating off of the mountains sounds like? Pure. Awesomeness. Amazing.

I ended up driving through Sligo again because I didn’t take a certain turn or something but that was fine – I just got to experience Friday rush hour in Sligo. They don’t have a long weekend here, so just normal Friday rush, I guess. I waved at some little ones in the back of the Bus Eirinn ahead of me, waiting at a road works flag man. Cute. Then I booted it to get to my B&B – only 40 minutes late, one wrong turn and one grocery store run. This really isn’t a B&B per se, more of a cottage/loft/apartment where I have a kitchen and laundry (done! Now I know why my friend T never believed her clothes were clean coming out of a North American washing machine – it took almost two hours just in the washer!) So I picked up some veggies to cook for myself tonight. I’ll probably pick up a couple extra things tomorrow.

Ok, so I crossed the border into Northern Ireland and there was no customs or anything. But it did immediately switch to miles, and I’m guessing at speeds (30 mph = 50 km/h -ish? 50 mph = 80 ish?) because my speedometer is only in km/h. Sheesh. Apparently I wasn’t driving fast enough for this one guy who seemed attached to my rear bumper. But that might have had more to do with it being Friday night.

I don’t really know what day it is anymore. I just know the date so I can show up at the right place to sleep. Only three more days in Ireland, and I want to see Newgrange, the Hill of Tara, the Giant’s Causeway, and some of Derry (apparently partly ancestral homeland for me). And folks tell me tomorrow’s weather is supposed to be terrible. And Newgrange is basically on the way back to Dublin (i.e. in the Republic, not the north). So that might mean I will take off very early on the morning on the 20th. Which leaves Derry and the Causeway etc. Decisions…

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