Travel Ireland - Magical, Mystical, Delightful, Enchanting; Part 2 of 2


DAYS 4 – 6

Day 3 ended with a good night’s rest at the lovely Arnolds Hotel and then up bright and early for yet another day of exciting adventures.

DAY 4:

The Arnolds Hotel guide pointing out some of the different species of plants

Some of our group decided to go horseback riding and the rain disappeared just in time. The rest of us went on a guided walking tour through the hotel’s exquisite property, with our guide stopping along the way to point out the different species of plants. It was exhilarating and the exercise felt great.

Slieve League Cliffs:

We picked up the horse people for our next exciting activity that was a visit the awesome Slieve League Cliffs. Following a brief break for tea and scones in Ti Linn, a charming café and craft shop, our guide, a very cheerful Joseph Haughey, dispatched us into a special van for a ride up the winding gravel road to the viewing area. These breathtakingly beautiful cliffs are the highest cliff face in Ireland, rising 1,972 feet at its highest point with a sheer drop of 765 feet to the sea. A variety of sea birds live there, includingGuillemots, Puffins, Razorbills and Kittiwakes, all of whom fish for their dinner in the North Atlantic sea. One note of caution: Only experienced hikers should attempt to walk the ledges of One man's Pass as it’s quite easy to get disoriented when the fog rolls in.

These breathtakingly beautiful cliffs are the highest cliff face in Ireland

Our next hotel and dining experience was at the luxurious Harveys Point Country Hotel sitting in the hills of Donegal, on the shores of Lough (lake) Eske, framed by the Blue Stack Mountains. Once again, we were greeted with the warm Irish hospitality that permeates all of Ireland and after a gourmet dinner, it was off to our spacious rooms where we relaxed in the spa bath, complete with candles and matches. Oh so soothing after a long day of sightseeing. Ask for a room with a romantic four-poster bed with a fabulous view of the lake. Owned and operated by the Swiss family Gysling, your stay will be quite comfortable.

DAY 5:

Yeats Country Tour – Drumcliffe, Glencar Waterfall and Inishfree:

You’ve probably gotten the idea by now that the food in Ireland is at the highest level and second to none. The cooking is sophisticated, with a strong emphasis on organic products. So, before heading for the Yeats Country Tour, we devoured yet another delightful meal, this time at The Bridge Bar. Housed in a rustic building in the center of Bonduran, the food is among the most delicious we experienced, with the fresh ingredients culled from local farmers. The homemade soup of the day was a fabulous clam chowder filled with giant chunks of crab and shrimp. This was followed by an extensive selection for the main course, including Fillet of Salmon, baked and served with Seute Leeks and warm Gremolata dressing, and King Prawns cooked in a Scallion, Ginger, Lime, and Soy Broth, presented with Noodles. Truly sensational food served with graciousness and a big smile. Oh yes. There is traditional music during the week and everyone is invited to join in.

The Yeats Country Tour, dedicated to Ireland’s revered, Nobel Prize winner, poet William Butler Yeats, was the most profound experience as it captured the poetic soul of what the Irish people are about. It began with a visit to Yeats’ final resting place, the cemetery at St. Columba’s Parish Church at Drumcliffe, in County Slago,

The statue outside the entrance to St. Columba's Parish Church cemetery where W.B. Yeats is buried

A beautiful cascade that can be viewed from a wooded walk, is immortalized in Yeats’ poem "The Stolen Child.”

St. Columba's Parish Church

Although Yeats was living in France at the time of his death in 1939, it was his wish that, "If I die here, bury me up there on the mountain, and then after a year or so, dig me up and bring me privately to Sligo," and in 1948, his body was moved to it’s final resting place. Yeats had a deep connection to County Slago from his childhood. Its coastline of many faces - sandy beaches, forests, rivers, and lakes such as Lough (lake) Gill, home of the Isle of Inisfree, served as a great source of inspiration throughout his adult life and the subject of one of his most famous poems.

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

W.B. Yeats' grave is marked with a simple limestone slab, next to his young wife

His grave is marked with a simple limestone slab, next to his young wife, Georgie Hyde-Lee, who predeceased him. The self-written epitaph comes from his poem "Under Ben Bulben:” Cast a cold Eye, On life, on Death, Horseman pass by.

While her husband shares stories on W.B. Yeats, his wife and chef Dr. Paula Garvey is at work in the kitchen

Continuing with the Yeats Country tour, another major treat was forthcoming which was dinner at the Broc House, hosted by Damian Brennan and his wife/chef Dr. Paula Garvey. The food, all cooked fresh from scratch, was as fine a meal as we’ve had and consisted of Poached Salmon on Wheaten Biscuits, Three Cheese Terrine on Oatmeal Crackers, Black and White Pudding Terrine with Red Onion Marmalade, Nettle and Coconut Soup served with White Yeast Scones, Lough Gill Salmon with Spinach Hollandaise, followed by a shot of Lemon Posset.

Yeats historian Damian Brennan reading a poem

In between courses, Damian told us stories about Yeats’ life and read poetry.

The magnificent view of Lough Gill, and the Isle of Inishfree served as a backdrop for this most special evening

Crowning this exquisite meal was Summer Strawberry Pancakes with Baby Meringues and Lemon Curd Tartlets

Summer strawberry pancakes

The Yeats Country Tour is one of the most unique experiences you will have so definitely put this on your must-see list.

Cromlech Lodge:

View from Cromleach Lodge

Cromleach Lodge Country House and Ciunas Spa is said to be one of the favorite destinations of the Irish. The property, owned and operated by Moira and Christy Tighe for almost 30 years, is located in Sligo in the hills above Lough Arrow and offers breathtaking views as far as the eye can see.

If you love to hike, maps are provided that could bring you face to face with sheep, farmers and friendly cows

Once again, the service and hospitality is impeccable and the rooms are lovely and spacious. Just when you thought the food couldn’t get any better, dine in Moira’s Restaurant for yet another heavenly dinner. Try their Seared Fresh Scallops and Razor Clam Tartare in a Clam Shell with Cauliflower Puree and White Wine Sauce, and definitely save room for one of their naughty desserts, such as White Chocolate and Pistachio Coated Meringue Slice, with Poached Strawberries and Strawberry Ice Cream, or the Pineapple Upside Down Pudding with Sesame Tulle Basket of Coconut Custard. A magnicient end to a magnificent day.

A decadent dessert at Moira’s

DAY 6:

Next train to Dublin

Our tour was going full circle and it was time to head back to Dublin for departure home the next day. The van containing our luggage drove ahead while we embarked on a train at Sligo Train Station for a comfortable, scenic ride through the exquisite countryside. Operated by Railtours Ireland in association with Irish Rail, this is an alternative to driving as you can sit back, relax and enjoy what can only be described as truly “God’s Country.”

Someone once said that no one should go through life without experiencing Dublin and truer words were never spoken

With the brief amount of time we had before the evening’s event, our incredibly knowledgeable guide, Will Collins, who quipped, “Never let the truth get in the way of a good story,” conducted a walking tour through some of the historic streets and squares, bustling with friendly people and dotted with an array of pubs, including the famous Temple Bar, where it is said many of Dublin’s famous writers and playwrights may have downed a pint or two. Among them might have included George Bernard Shaw, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce, whose most notable work, Ulysses, is set in Dublin. It should be noted that Jonathan Swift suffered from severe headaches that were diagnosed as a psychological disorder, but actually turned out to be a tumor on the brain.

Dublin's famous Ha'penny Bridge

Our walking tour took us past the River Liffy with its famous Ha'penny bridge, now known as the Liffey Bridge. Linking the Temple Bar area and Liffey Street, it once cost a half penny to cross. Built in 1816, it was the only pedestrian bridge over the Liffey, which flows through the heart of the city, for almost 200 years.

The Book of Kells, the most priceless book in Ireland

We reached Parliament Square, home of Trinity College, repository of the famous Book of Kells, the most priceless book in Ireland. Written around the year 800 AD, the 340 folios (680 pages) contain a decorated copy of the Four Gospels in Latin as well as images of Christ, the Virgin and Child, St. Matthew, and St. John.

The sight walking into the Long Room of Trinity College Library is spectacular for under its towering ceiling is housed approximately 200,000 volumes of rare books, manuscripts, and numerous special collections.

Our tour ended at the luxurious Westbury Hotel where we would be spending our last night in Dublin. Considered a landmark, the hotel is in easy walking distance to many of the restaurants, pubs, shopping, theatre, nightlife, and historic attractions. The staff is friendly and courteous and do expect a piece of chocolate on your pillow before retiring for the evening.

No stay in Dublin would be complete without experiencing a night at the theatre and it was our good fortune that Oscar Wilde’s hilarious The Importance of Being Earnest was on stage at The Gaiety Theatre, a cultural landmark in Dublin for 138 years known for presenting the highest quality musical and dramatic entertainment.

Stockard Channing as Lady Bracknell in Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Ernest

Produced by the Rough Magic Theatre Company, this delicious production, marvelously directed by Lynne Parker, featured Stockard Channing as a perfect Lady Bracknell.

L-R: Rory Nolan as Algernon and Rory Keenan as John Worthing

The excellent ensemble included Rory Nolan as Algernon Moncrieff, and Rory Keenan as John Worthing with Gemma Reeves as the delectable Cecily and Eleanor Methven as Miss Prism, adding to the wonderful screwball adventures and misadventures of upper crust society. The production could serve as a primer on classical acting.

Back at the Westbury Hotel, we all met at the bar for a late-night farewell toast and some “craic,’ (fun) with special thanks paid to Bernard McMullen and Ellen Redmond of Tourism Ireland for putting together such a spectacular trip.

There is an endless array of enchanting experiences in Ireland’s treasure chest of delights and Tourism Ireland can help you frame a vacation package that’s right for you, whether it’s a guided tour or with over two and a half thousand miles of coastline, you might want to explore the hidden Ireland of pristine tiny villages and remote beaches on your own. Two signs you might see while driving are Overtaking Lane and Climbing Lane.

Fun or “slagging” (joking with an edge) can be found everywhere

As far as the weather, you’re encouraged to bring an umbrella but as Will Collins said, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.” If you hear someone say “The sky is a bit low today,” that means it’s foggy. When asked how much it rains, Collins quipped, It rained twice last year, once for six months and a second time for six months.” But remember, Ireland is the Emerald Isle with lush vegetation, and the rain insures that it stays that way.

Leaving the “Land of Saints and Scholars,” I basked in the warm afterglow of the entire memorable experience and vowed that I would once again return to one of the most beautiful, fun, friendly, places in the world.


Read my article Travel Ireland - Magical, Mystical, Delightful, Enchanting; Part 1 of 2  here

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