Saturday, 28 September 2019

When wandering around in Dublin, look up!

Saturday at last! Best day of the week.

So just because it's weekend, and because it's not raining now (yet), and because it's almost October and just because I like you very much 😊, I am going to give you a very important and free piece of advice that you will not find in any tourist guide book:

WHEN WANDERING AROUND IN DUBLIN... PLEASE LOOK UP!

I know, I know... now you are thinking: ?????!!!

Well yes! Many of the street lights / lamp posts in this city are just works of art, really.





Yes, we just see them as part of the city's furniture and barely notice them... and we are missing so much!



Some months ago, I was reading in different local websites that DCC had a 12 month plan to upgrade the city's public street lighting. This upgrade would include replacing some modern street lights with "heritage columns/luminaires" (the old-style ornate ones). Fantastic!

I also learnt that some of the most iconic lamp posts even have names – usually the names of the foundries where they were manufactured.

So you have probably seen a few "Large Hammond Lanes" (my favourites!) around the city centre and along the canal:




These were manufactured in Dublin by Hammond Lane



But I am sure you have also noticed a few "Ballantine columns", with a heavier decoration (more shamrocks and tendrils and leaves...) but still really worth a close look:



The double ones are something else, don't you think?



Ballantine columns were manufactured in Scotland.

The lamp posts of the O'Connell bridge are just fantastic




But please do not miss the ones on Grattan bridge with the hippocampus at the base (we should talk further about this bridge... maybe in another post!)



Or, of course, the ones on Ha'penny bridge are difficult to forget



Countless other examples: just thinking about the ones just outside the City Hall on Dame Street




or along the Liffey:



The list is long, very long. So follow my advice: look up and check those lights because they are part of Dublin's beauty.








Saturday, 14 September 2019

A trip to the north of Co. Donegal

We were looking forward to going on this trip for a long time... so many people had talked to us about the wild beauty of this area that we knew the north of Donegal would be our trip of the summer.



And so it was!!!

And we all loved it!!! The dog included (she made the trip with us, of course!)



As we always do, we planned the trip in advance: checked a few must-see places and a few we'll-do-our-best-to-see places and then some if-we-have-time-to-see places.

Of course, we ended up going to the hadn't-heard-of-it places, because all plans are made to be broken, aren't they?

First things first: the bad stuff: the weather... how can I put it??? mmmh.... It was BAAAAD. 



...but we acted as if we were living the perfect summer break - sunbathing and all ;-)))



And now the good part: let's explain the "awesomeness" of the trip. We made up a route that covered some of the gems –some hidden and some others already popular– around the place were we were staying (Derrybeg, on the coast). Let me show you in this video:




PLACES WE LOVED

1) Derrybeg: it was our base, where our Airbnb house/home was.



The village is very little, but Port Arthur beach –walking distance from the village– was just perfect for us. We went there a few evenings to wind down after our long exciting days playing Indiana Jones (or Gene Kelly in I'm singing in the rain, depending on the day). Sometimes the sky was orange, sometimes it was pink. Always superb!







2) Dunfanaghy: a nice coastal village with a lovely holiday atmosphere (at least in the summer). It's full of cozy cafés, lovely little shops, some restaurants and a few sports businesses. It is perfectly located to make the first pit stop, have a cup of coffee and a piece of cake (or a burger and fries, depending on the time of the day) and then go for a walk on the huge (and I mean huge) beach.



3) Horn Head cliffs: located just outside Dunfanaghy, this place is not mentioned in the video, as we will talk about it in a separate post, but OMG! it is impressive. We were not expecting such spectacular views and striking height (approx 180m) in a place that is not popular at all.... only a couple of cars passed by when we were there and barely stopped. 





Definitely the hidden gem of our route and one of the best kept secrets of the Wild Atlantic Way (there are a few!)

4) Ards Forest Park: next time we visit this part of Donegal, we will no doubt spend at least one whole day here, if not two or three - what a pleasure! So many different landscapes, endless beaches, trees of all kinds...





We were told that in Ards Forest Park you can still find Irish Native Woodland (rowan trees, yews, birches, ashes, elms...). After we came back home we started digging a little bit more and found out about Brehon Laws and how these trees were highly protected back in Medieval Ireland - so interesting, really!


5) Glenveagh National Park: what can I say that hasn't already been said about Glenveagh? One of the most beautiful National Parks in Ireland. So well maintained, with such a fascinating history (the castle and gardens were built in 1867 and since then have had different owners until 1975 when it was sold to the Office of Public Works). It has it all...




We arrived late in the evening and walked along the lake for a while - such a pleasure! An easy walk, we ran into a deer who was having his dinner and didn't even bother to look at us. Crossed paths with a few dog walkers, some tourists and a couple of "more professional" hikers -you can see this is a place that suits all tastes. The playground was full of kids so even the younger ones enjoy their time here.




6) Dunlewey: Mid way between Glenveagh National Park and the coast, on the R251 we stopped at Dunlewey to admire the Poison Glen. There is a viewpoint that I would recommend 100%. 



To one side there is Mount Errigal (those 751m seem much more than that, I can assure you).



To the other side, the Derryveagh Mountains (Errigal is the tallest of them all) or the Seven Sisters, as they are called, guarding Lough Dunlewy and Lough Nacung. Probably they are also guarding the Green Lady, the resident ghost, and all the fairies that have been sighted in the Poison Glen over the years.... is it a legend? is it true?





7) Bunbeg: such a quiet village with such a lovely beach.... visited in the morning and had a very nice coffee in a lovely shop/café: Harbour Road - made our day.





Then, we visited the harbour (looked perfect under the sun!), which happens to be the smallest active harbour in Europe. It is small, I can confirm.



Then a nice walk on the beach. Super plan!

We visited more places outside of this route and I will show you soon. For the moment hope you liked our story, and I also hope you visit Donegal soon ;-)




Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Beautiful route along the coast of Sligo (part of the Wild Atlantic Way)

Happy Monday!

After a long and very warm summer we are back home, back to school and back to discovering this fantastic Emerald Isle and writing about it.

This time, we would like to write about a trip we made to Co. Roscommon, Co. Sligo and Co. Leitrim at the end of August, an area that was still unknown to us...

And more specifically this post is about the route we did along the coast of County Sligo: loved it, in spite of the weather (which wasn't explosively sunny at times...).


Friday, 13 July 2018

Hazel House Cafe (Tibradden) - Impossible not to like it!

Not a secret for our followers (not many, but very loyal!)  that we love finding new cafés for breakfast/brunch in or around Dublin... we have written several posts about some of our favourite options.

Photo taken @ 3fE


Friday, 29 June 2018

Downpatrick Head (Co. Mayo) on the Wild Atlantic Way - What a place!

Yes, it seems like Christmas was ages ago! We spent last Christmas in Co. Mayo - it was cold and windy and wet and... do you remember those feelings??

But I wanted to write about this amazing spot we visited then, that we hadn't heard about: Downpatrick Head, very close to Ballycastle, Co. Mayo.


Monday, 4 June 2018

Relaxing walk from Sandymount strand to Poolbeg lighthouse

So many years in Dublin, and so many times I had heard that this walk was very nice and relaxing, with beautiful views... but only a couple of weeks ago I decided I would do it. And I loved it!



Thursday, 26 April 2018

The 9 Glens of Antrim. Glenariff Forest Park

Coming back on our lovely short trip to Co Antrim during the Easter break (see my previous post about it here), I wanted to write a special post about the Glens of Antrim, designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) back in 1988.

The area comprises 9 glens –or valleys– that radiate from the Antrim Plateau to the coast.

Even their names are special! here is the list:

GLENARM - Glen of the army.
GLENCLOY - Glen of the dykes.
GLENARIFF - Glen of the arable land.
GLENBALLYEMON - Edwardstown Glen.
GLENAAN - Glen of the little fords.
GLENCORP -  Glen of the dead.
GLENDUN - Brown Glen.
GLENSHESK - Glen of the sedges (reeds).
GLENTAISIE - Named after Taisie, princess of Rathlin island.
(info extracted from www.discovernorthernireland.com) 


It has been an impossible task for me to find a good map that would clearly show just the nine Glens of Antrim with their names and exact locations. The best I could find is the map below, from www.ireland.com, showing the glens (red names) and their approximate locations in the area:



I know...difficult to read! You could enlarge the picture if you want to locate all of them.

In this last visit, we only had time to visit the spectacular Glenariff Forest Park (Glenariff is also known as The Queen of the Glens) and it offers so much to hikers of all levels, professional and amateur photographers, nature lovers, families with or without pets and everybody else! ;-D.




There are several trails you can follow from the car park of the Forest Park... we decided to follow the Waterfall Walk, very popular, that was opened to the public over 80 years ago! 



It's an easy to follow path, with stunning views of the river gorge and, of course, the waterfalls.... 








The kids had an amazing time along the walk, running up and down, taking pictures and enjoying the views




After the fantastic walk and the two or three million pictures we took, we had our sandwiches at one of the few picnic tables that can be found in the park. Feels gooood to have lunch in such an amazing place... even if it was only ham sandwiches, salad and some fruit!


So now that the weather is starting to give us a break and the sun shines... from time to time, do not hesitate to organise a trip to Co Antrim if you can, because I am sure all the family will enjoy it ;-)