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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Ireland, Day 2

We woke up to sun on Friday morning, Marcy 25th!  But in typical Irish fashion, it didn't last long.  But that's okay because we learned quickly that it can be raining one minute and literally two minutes later the sun will be shining (and usually with  a rainbow).  And then cloudy, rainy, sunny. Repeat.

Typically the Irish people don't use umbrellas.  I think in part because they would spend much time putting it up and immediately putting it back down and also Ireland is very windy and wind and umbrellas don't mix.

All of the hotels we stayed at offered a Traditional Irish Breakfast.  This includes:

Bacon - but don't get excited, it was just sliced ham.
Irish Beans - they looked exactly like pork and beans.
Blood sausage - the taste very earthy and dry.  Try them once so you can say you have and then keep on moving.
Irish sausage - pretty close to what I consider sausage links but just not quite the same.
Fried/poached egg - just like here.
Fried tomatoes - although not coated in a batter, just placed in a pan and fried until they start to shrivel up.
Potatoes - diced and roasted, like chunky hash browns
Bread - lots of different types of bread

And the buffets all had yoghurt (Sarah loved how they added the h), porridge (oatmeal with toppings such as dried fruits and nuts, cream, and honey), cereal (but like granola not Lucky Charms), cheese and meat tray.  The cheese and meat tray was my favorite part of breakfast!

There was always something for us to eat at breakfast, even on this day (Friday) when we couldn't eat meat because of Lent. Most of the hotels we stayed in had a complimentary breakfast and if they didn't, we paid a little extra when we made our reservation so that we could eat and get out the door without worrying about finding a restaurant.

After breakfast, we headed up the Antrim Coast and our first stop was to see Ardboe Abbey and High Cross which are over looking Lough Neagh. The cross stands at the entrance to a cemetery and a monastery and a church from the seventeenth century which was founded in 590 by Saint Colman.

Once the old churches started to deteriorate and new ones were built, the graveyards were continued to be used and graves just placed inside the church which is what you see here!

It was really windy here because the graveyard overlooks Lough Neagh.  Lough means lake and it's the largest freshwater lake in the British Isles! 

After visiting this high cross, we took a long drive and headed to Dunluce Castle. First built on the dramatic coastal cliffs of north Antrim by the MacQuillan family around 1500, the earliest written record of the castle was in 1513. 

Next we headed to the Giant's Causeway.  This  is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. 

 The tops of the columns form stepping stones that lead from the cliff foot and disappear under the sea. Most of the columns are hexagonal, although there are also some with four, five, seven or eight sides. The tallest are about 39 feet high, and the solidified lava in the cliffs is 92 feet thick in places. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Northern Ireland.

Because it's a popular tourist attraction, there were tons of people there.  We tried to keep the people out of the pictures but this place was literally crawling with people.  It was also very hard to walk along the causeway because of the uneven stones.  Dan and the kids didn't seem to mind but I felt like I was going to slip and fall the whole time. 

Here's a professional picture that gives you more of a feel for the area than our picture with all the people cropped out:

Next we headed to see the rope bridge at Carrick-A-Rede.  It is a famous rope bridge near Ballintoy in County Antrim, Northern Ireland. The bridge links the mainland to the tiny island of Carrickarede  It spans 66 feet and is 98 feet above the rocks below.

Sarah was not at all interested in crossing this bridge. Unfortunately she has inherited my fear of heights.  So I waited with her on one side while Dan and Peter crossed and explored the island for a bit.  She and I had fun people watching.  When the boys got back, Dan encouraged me to cross.  I was reluctant but I did it anyway.  In part because I'll probably never get the chance again because I wanted Sarah to see me doing it! 

Peter doing his classic Napoleon pose. 

Me faking a smile for the camera while trying not to die of fear!

 After leaving the rock bridge, we drove to Belfast.  Peter wanted to see the political murals and the dry dock where the built the Titanic.  We got to see these things right as the sun was setting and it was getting dark but we got them in. 

Day 2 was another long day but we got to see everything our travel agent (Dan) wanted to see. 

Unfortunately, what I failed to take pictures of was the beautiful Irish countryside.  The entire trip I kept exclaiming, "Isn't it just so gorgeous here??"  I think the kids were sick of me saying that by the end of the week but it's true.  All the little lanes, low stone walls, the houses, the sheep, the green was all beautiful so even though we did a lot of driving from place to place it was interesting!


Madeline said...

I believe Ireland is the most beautiful place I've ever seen. The green cannot be described. I love your trip. I think you did a great job getting pictures of just your family, you are all very photogenic. There's some great shots!

Mari said...

Everything you've shown is so pretty! I've always wanted to visit Giants causeway. I was looking at the pics, thinking how surprised I was that there was no one else there. Then I read further! You did good with your crops. :)
And when did Peter get taller than you?

Anonymous said...

When I saw the pic pop up on facebook, although I'd never been I said, "That's the Ardboe cross!" My son's Godmother is from Ardboe (she was born in NY and then her born in Ardboe parents moved her back as a young child before eventually resettling in NY--I met her when she moved to NC as an adult). Even more interesting, she was there the same time you were because, sadly, her grandmother had passed away and she was there for a funeral and did a reading at the funeral Mass. After watching the funeral Mass online and hearing about her grandmother, I decided that for 5th grade graduation, I'm taking him over! Loved all your pics!

Colleen said...

I am loving all these pictures - and hoping to get inspired to name this baby boy something irish :) I can't express my love enough for Irish sausages - we go out of our way to find them tender and less greasy and white looking meat. Oh my gosh I could eat a pound every morning!

Lucky as Sunshine said...

Lovely pictures.. Can't wait for day 3

Busy Bee Suz said...

Blood sausage....just the name alone makes my belly turn.
Giant's Causeway looks absolutely magnificent; magical.
I too would have been reluctant to cross the swinging/rope bride, but you DID it!!!

Joy Beyond the Cross said...

I just learned about that bridge earlier this week when my husband's cousin posted about their trip many years ago to Ireland and said they crossed it. So, of course, now that I am scrolling through your trip pictures, I was hoping you went there and you did! How fun!!!! I hope to get there some day. However, as I commented to my friend "can you imagine who drew the short stick those many hundreds of years ago to be the first one to cross it?" Ha, definitely looks reinforced since then. :)