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Ireland Photographs

The Frenchman and the Ox

There are 285 photographs I took while travelling Ireland. Clicking on any of the below thumbs gets you to the respective gallery.

Connacht gallery
Connacht
Leinster gallery
Leinster
Munster gallery
Munster
Ulster gallery
Ulster

My first acquaintance with Ireland was, let's say a bit bumpy. The decision to spend my holidays in Ireland was this time not based on a movie or a television show. I was simply curious.

To make things easier I didn't take my own car and two ferries. It would have been too time consuming although I do love ferries. I flew. This also meant that I had to sit on the to me wrong side of the car. Having arrived at the airport I asked the immigration officer to put a stamp into my passport. The disadvantage of the European borderless travel is that you don't get them anymore. That he did gladly and said grinning that I owe him now 5 Euros. Oh dear, this kind of humour I have to get used to.

It was a Vauxhall Meriva I got. I wanted a smaller car but it had four wheels and what has four wheels can be moved. The car was almost new but my pre car renter seemed to have had a heavy fight with one of the small walls bordering the Irish roads. It was pretty obvious that the car had lost big time. The passenger's side was completely mangled. So what, it drove. To drive on the for us wrong side of the road is no problem for me. I did it numerous times in the UK. But I needed some adjusting time to put the gears in with the left hand. The first gear didn't want to co-operate and thus I proceeded to ignore it completely by starting with the second gear. The gears by the way are exactly there where they are for the cars on the right hand side.

map of Ireland

And adjusting time I got enough while searching for my first hotel near the Sir John Rogerson Quay. Up I drove the road along the river Liffey on one side and back down again on the other (one way roads). I tried every bridge in order to make a left-turn at the harbour to get to my hotel. A friendly worker at the train station eventually explained what bridge I had to take in what way to reach my goal. At that time I controlled the car.

To tell you beforehand: Ireland has a massive problem with parking lots. At least in the areas I have been to. In the cities and towns almost all are used or have parking meters run out of time after one or two hours and the parking garages close quite early so that a late evening stroll is almost impossible to undertake. In order to check into my hotel I parked at a for construction closed off bus stop directly opposite the hotel. Big Mistake!

...because my checking into the hotel took quite some time because the promised overnight accommodation vouchers weren't given to the hotel personnel and it took some negotiation to the Irish local travel agency to bring them the very same day. It was already past 5 pm but I insisted since I wanted to move on the day after the following day.

The hotel staff was very helpful and we agreed that a curier would bring the vouchers. Puhhh I thought everything was solved now and that I could finally enjoy my first evening in Dublin. I thought wrong.

The hotel provided me with a key card to get to the underground parking area which was also public. So I quickly went to my car to get it finally moved. There the next surprise awaited me: Wheel Clamp! The friendly in plastic wrapped short letter let me know that I had parked in a prohibited spot but that it was no problem at all to get my car freed by calling the mentioned phone number. With the credit card in one hand and the mobile in the other I called gnashing my teeth. 20 Minutes later my car was free and I was short of 80 Euros. I had enough.

I moved forward through the Wicklow Mountains with the direction south to the Ring of Kerry doing a little detour to Glendalough. I thought the landscape would be a bit more rough which it was not and I was a bit disappointed.

Similar to Wales the roads are bordered by small stone walls which makes it difficult to take photos while on the way because you cannot stop anywhere aside of the designated parking spaces that are of course filled with the cars of other tourists. I saw some tourists not being able to assess their rented cars' width and who certainly kissed the stone walls more than once. I got quite quick at Glanmore Lake one day when I saw a double rainbow and I couldn't stop anywhere. Rainbows have the dumb tendency to vanish rather quickly but are not seldom in the south of Ireland. I saw many and no I didn't go and looked for the pot of gold.

The Irish I have meat were all very friendly but also quite reserved. I think this is the price to pay when millions of tourists roam your country. The Ring of Kerry is totally overrun and I was there at a time of year which is called outside of season. Complaining tourists left and right from all over the world: The food was not generous enough (well, I liked the food and I got satisfied) or they wanted their own beer (which I didn't understand at all because especially at the tourist high grounds I was greeted by electronic messages wanting to sell me German Weißbier or American Budwiser). By the way, the German Weißbier is something that comes from Bavaria. Me, being from north of the blue-white Bavarian border and coming from the Cologne area don't care about that beer at all. Anyhow, all of this gave me the rest. This was not how I had imagined my holidays to be. I want to learn about the land, the culture and the people and not belong to the tourist mass treatment.

A shimmer of hope came quite late in form of two couples from Hastings, UK on Garnish Island with whom I drank a cup of coffee as well as the ponies at the Dunloe Gap, a Celtic stone circle, a young ox and a Frenchman.

While the tourists at my bed & breakfast were still debating whether to get picked up to get to the Dunloe Gap because driving on the left hand side is oh so difficult, I set out quite early and was of course too early. No people masses! No other tourists! The first thing I did was to drink an Irish coffee at the small store and then I proceeded to the paddocks holding the ponies - to caress four-footers.

And here the miracle happened: The first Irish came to prepare their ponies and carriages (also called Tap & Pony) for the tourist masses and were quite surprised to find someone standing there who wanted to chat about land, people and culture and also wanted to help harnessing the Ponies. First quite reserved but then rather quickly defrosting. I told those people about my tourist dilemma and I was told: Honey, you are at the wrong place. What you seek lies in the North West. Go to Galway. This information I stored for a next visit to Ireland.

It became funny when I followed a sign at the Ring of Brea saying Derrintaggart West Stone Circle. I was not alone. Another car with a French license plate parked in the greens like I did as well. The young man stood at the gate leading to the field where the stone circle lies for a while, turned around and moved back to his car which made me curious. I tried to explain (in my somewhat rusty French) that even if it was private property he could procede going in just to make sure the gate would be closed. He shook his head, shrugged and left me alone.

It did not take me long to understand why the Frenchman didn't go to the stone circle. I still was not alone. Not far from the circle itself laid a young ox ruminating. Laughing loud I went on to take my pictures. The ox stayed where it was, certainly used to a lot of tourists and looked at me curiously. My option would have been running and jumping over the fence but that was not necessary. Oxen can be bribed too with half an apple and a bit of tender care. ;-)

A further highlight was the Staigue Fort where a group of half naked young tourists greeted me. They were on a hiking trip and the heavy shower made them wet to the bone. Their clothes were now strewn all over the stones of the fort since now the sun was shining. I took my pictures with a broad grin.

An absolute must is a trip over the Healey Pass. It is most definitely worthwhile. No bus drives over this road (not yet) and having arrived on the top there is a small store at which you can buy wonderful and authentic gifts. The elderly man is furthermore quite charming. I could not resist and bought a hand-knitted woollen jumper (sweatshirt). Not far from there is Moll's Gap with a beautiful view. If it is not too overrun you should take the time, sit on a stone and enjoy it.

As already mentioned the Ring of Kerry is strongly frequented by tourists and it can happen that you do not get a parking lot at one of the many vista points. Anyway, you should do most definitely the Ring of Brea (it is not so overrun and also worthwhile) and visit Garnish Island the garden Island from where you have a great view over to the mainland.

The quintessence is that I most certainly will visit Ireland once more and then go as I was recommended to Galway. Landscape-wise I have not found what I enthuse so much about in Scotland or Iceland. This is not Ireland's fault but the fault of my taste. Ireland is simply too soft for me.


Scotland Next Landscape Gallery

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