I was cleaning out my desk and I found an old travel journal I had kept during a trip to the UK and Ireland from a few years ago. This had been the first time I had returned to England after being expelled for working without a permit back in the late 80’s. (I have been back a few times more since) But I thought I would share the journal and some pictures with you all.
I told the clerk at the hotel I wanted a 5:30AM wake-up call, but since I didn’t get to sleep until around 3:30AM I didn’t get up. (It was an automated call anyway) Then housecleaning knocked around 8:30 so I got up then. I went over to the airport and checked the flight schedule. Aer Lingus had a flight to Dublin in about two hours, the train had a train leaving for Edinburgh about the same time. I flipped a coin and it came up “heads’ for Ireland. (as fate would have it, I would be in Scotland in less than six months on another trip) We flew over the Irish Sea and since it was a short flight (about 45 minutes) we kept a fairly low altitude. We fly by the Isle of Anglesey in Wales and it was fun watching all the ships making their way from England to Ireland.
The airport in Dublin seemed really small to me. Getting through customs was fairly easy and I got a bus to the city center. I only had a few days here before I needed to head back so I decided to get out of Dublin and see the countryside. I had seen a movie a while back that had been set in Donegal so I purchased a bus ticket to Donegal town on the west coast. I had a few hours before I had to leave so I went for a walk around the city.
Top Row to bottom Molly Malone statue, Statue of Phil Lynott (lead singer of the band ‘Thin Lizzy’), Custom House, Christ Church, Famine memorial, another memorial I forgot to write down, James Larkin (popular labor leader), Grafton Street ( a popular pedestrian mall) st ‘Ulysses’ author James Joyce.
The bus ride to Donegal was unforgettable, and not necessarily in a good way. The roads seemed awful, technically two lanes but it never seemed to be wide enough. And bumpy, it felt like a three and a half hour roller coaster. We technically traveled into Northern Ireland a couple times on the way there. I tried to take some pictures of the countryside which was very nice, but the roads were too bumpy to get anything worth keeping.
Donegal town is very nice. It’s fairly small and compact. It is situated on Donegal Bay but seems to be inland enough that you can’t see the open ocean from here, They have a river that cuts through town and leads out to the bay. The bus dropped me off in the center of town called “The Diamond” probably because it is diamond shaped.
I found a B&B down the road from The Diamond, I unpacked and went for a walk around the city. The lady at the B&B said the was a restaurant named “The Harbour”nearby that was very good so I figured I would walk around and then maybe wind up there. Across the river, there was an abandoned Abbey and a graveyard. The Abbey had been built in the 1400’s by the McDonnell clan who ruled the area. There is a McDonnell castle here as well. The Abbey had fallen to ruin and a graveyard was built within and around the remains. Walking among the graves and the walls, I felt really alone. I am normally the heartiest traveler you could ever meet. I almost never feel lonely traveling, but this was one of the “almost” times, Something about the graves and the beauty of this spot. I can’t explain it.
Interestingly “The Harbour” was having Mexican Night so my first night in Ireland I am having Burritos. But they were mighty fine burritos. After dinner, I walked around the city some more. I walked by several pubs and the live Irish music was going strong. I was starting to get fatigued, so I called it a night. I have a full day of exploring ahead of me.