Thursday, September 3, 2015

Ireland--Day 4

Wednesday, August 19th--Today we planned to take the ferry to Rathlin Island to see the puffins. Anika has loved puffins ever since she wrote a report on them in 4th grade. Unfortunately, we found out that the puffins leave Rathlin in late July. We decided to go over anyway. The ferry ride was nice, as it wasn't raining yet. We noticed the pilot steering with only one knee.

Rathlin is small and picturesque--but fairly modern in architecture. 

A reminder that Northern Ireland is indeed part of the United Kingdom.

We decided not to take the Puffin Bus out to the bird sanctuary (gannets and kittiwakes notwithstanding) and instead walked along the harbor to try and see some seals. It started to rain, sideways.
We did see some seals. They were planking.

pretty place, Ireland

It seems hardly possible that this is the first time I can remember being rained on in my three trips to Ireland. They have a saying "If you can see the mountains, it's going to rain. If you can't see the mountains, it's raining."

After the seals, we were pretty much done, but our return ferry was scheduled for noon. As we walked back to the harbor, we saw that the slow ferry was loading up, so we took that one instead. We sat inside and read the paper. Ani did the crossword. (The Daily Mail is a mix of regular news and tabloids. Kind of trashy.)

We had to go back to our B and B (Teach an Cheoil, it means House of Music) because we didn't have cash this morning to pay Michael with. He had thought he'd be home, but wasn't, so we left the money in a baggie under a rock on his doorstep. We bought some groceries at the Spar to eat for lunch.

Next we went to the Dark Hedges.  It was a little tricky to find, down several winding roads and past confusing car park signs. I'd never actually heard of it, but Anika had and wanted to go there. The internet says it's "one of the most photographed natural phenomena in Northern Ireland." Considering its next door neighbor is the Giant's Causeway, you might think that doesn't mean much. But it really is pretty cool. It was still raining, and that only added to the spooky vibe of this two hundred year-old tree tunnel.

I didn't manage to get a very good picture but just to prove we were there . . . .

 There were quite a few people and their cars here, so it was tricky to get a shot without them.

The individual beech trees are massive and beautiful. For better pictures of the whole, try here.

It took a while to drive to our next site--Here's how Anika spent the drive:
We teased her for missing the countryside as we drove. She never fully got over jet lag and this happened just about every time we drove for more than half an hour.
Casey found a nice spot to pull over so we could eat our lunch. We had bread and cheese and fruit and Toffee Pops and Jammie Dodgers. Just across the road was this amazing stone tower? silo? Apparently, just part of the farm. (!)

We drove west along narrow, winding roads to visit a stone circle. Wikipedia says there are 343 stone circles in Ireland. Rick Steves' guidebook says more than 400. We picked one because it was on our way southwest. It's called Beltany stone circle. This article explains some of its history. It's in the middle of a field on a hill, at the end of a tree tunnel that I would have been impressed with yesterday. 

At the top of the lane leading up to the hilltop, there was another spooky tree tunnel. Only, it's actually just looking between the rows of a tree farm. 
Did you know that Ireland was almost completely deforested during the 17th and 18th centuries? Much of the lumber was sent to England to fuel industry and building when their own supply grew short. 
Beltany stone circle
There was a stone head found here, which eventually was given to the Irish Museum. We went there and saw a lot of artifacts, but this one is "not currently on display."  I'm concerned. By their own admission the museum has lost a number of artifacts over the years. I can understand that in a country as rich in artifacts as Ireland is--they dig new treasures out of the bog all the time. But stone heads are not so common as, say, gold collars and dress fasteners. Those are practically a dime a dozen. Why is the head not currently on display? Did it get lost? Did someone drop it?

Anyway,  we walked around the circle widdershins--maybe because that's the way roundabouts go in the States. We found ourselves going around museum displays that way, too, against the flow of traffic. And then we'd realize we were reading the placards out of order, and have to start over going clockwise.
Leaving Beltany circle after eating wild raspberries from the bushes.

It was late afternoon when we left. We still had to drive for a couple of hours to get to our next B and B in Swinford. We had arranged this one through email but hadn't gotten confirmation. Luckily they were expecting us. We were tired of driving when we got there, so we ate the rest of our groceries for dinner, and then watched Netflix before bed--a vacation from our vacation.
Our B and B--Deerpark Manor


Sarah C. said...

What a lovely non-crowd seeking vacation. I hope you saw either Leap Year or the Decoy Bride on Netflix as you were in Ireland.

JennyHP said...

Great pictures! I especially like the one of Ani in the tree tunnel.

Phillip Hale said...

I especially like the one of Ani by the red telephone booth. How do seals plank, and why?

Phillip Hale said...

But then again I also like Ani under the umbrella.

Katie said...

My favorite pic is probably Casey and Anika walking through the trees and the sun hits it just right to look like a perfect circle. And I got a kick out of the if you can see the mountains..... thing.