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Ireland 2012 - Motorhome Tour


The route, head North, West down the coast then back to Dublin

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As much as I have been to Ireland many times I have always been in a rush, one night stops and on again. This being the first time on the motorhome I plan to make fewer stops but spend more time looking around.

Day 01 :- Saturday 11 Aug 12 : Jordanstown,Belfast, NI
Miles: 195 Time: 9hr on the move Moving Ave: 45mph Wx: nice just nice

The view from the campsite was good , if only the weather had been

An early start for the ferry from Cairnryan to Belfast (well 9am but it is a Saturday) Okay by the time we packed Karen's 10 pairs of shoes(could be more hidden away)we were a little late in leaving.

An excellent test book drive and made in exactly the time the GPS stated, only losing 5 min's for a bad crash at Dumfries.

The ferry was packed, this is most bodies I have witnessed for a long time on a ferry of this size.

We headed 5 mile north to look for campsite, not too far out as the Titanic museum was the main event on Sunday Or according to Paul the main event of the holiday. Alas the site was full only 13 pitches so I was not surprised. A wonderful spot only one year old run by the council. Very high tech all key coded locks CCTV, very safe and secure being so close to the city I guess.

So we decided at 7pm to stop in the car park outside which was covered by the same CCTV. Only to just get sorted when the warden appeared and asked us to move onto the site and park in his car space. Job done and at a very modest 19 pound.(the car park was free).

Day 02 :- Sunday : Bushmills, NI
Miles: 85 Time: 2h45m Moving Ave: slow coast road Wx: overcast, coldish

What a shipyard
Titanic museum , Belfast. Built on the site of the original slipway of Titanic
Inside a virtual tour
We tried to do posh with Paul in the Titanic lounge.......

The object today was a visit to the newly opened Titanic museum in Belfast. A very busy spot with prior booking highly recommenced. The museum built in the Titanic quarter is very impressive building and inside takes you through the history of industrialised Belfast up to the sinking of the Titanic. Using very modern visual displays and rides.

Although all day could have been spent there time was pressing to head north to Bushmills using the scenic coastal road.

Taking almost 3 hrs with a wee stop the drive was perfect just a shame the low cloud spoilt some of the views.

The site chosen was 5 star, a very impressive set up very full and with no surprise why. Oh and the fastest WI-FI I have had to date (a full 19Mb on test).

Day 03 :- Monday: Bushmills , revisited
Miles: 20 Time: all day Moving Ave: just Wx: a mixed bag

Smiles for now....

At least the stairs are steady

Even if this was not

A big box of pencils

funny shaped stones

The Giants boot

The columns go on and on ...this is the organ

Would this have been a better visit ??

Well after a bad start with the weather we cancelled the bike ride, convinced the site owners that we could stop one more night, albeit in the car park (with electric).

As we had to move the van anyway , we drove out to the rope bridge and the Giants Causeway. Oh dear have these places changed over the years. Visitor number must be going through the roof in Ireland. The causeway has a newly built visitors Center that is beyond belief, 3 car parks and something that was once free is now £8.50 each, Thanks to my old mate Bob!! (he bought me a national trust membership as a gift, nice way to remember him).

The rope bridge was windy and had a touch of fear, while the Giants Causeway is magical and quite an amazing site if you have never seen it before, and still impressive the third time.

Day 04 :- Tuesday: Castlerock, Co Derry , NI
Miles: 33 Time: till 2pm Moving Ave: just Wx: mostly sunny after 10am

Eventually we went for the Bushmills tour, it was starting to rain outside.

Off on the coast road again, notice the castle on the cliff , Giants causeway at the back

Bonny cliffs in the opposite direction

Castlerock in the background and across the bay is Portstewart

Hezlett House the oldest thatched house in Ireland

the outside

Downhill Demesne and Muussenden temple (perched on the cliff edge)

Time to cycle back...and get them legs tanned

An early start and an early finish , the day was started with a guided tour around the Bushmills Distillery. A 40 minute guided tour with a taster session at the end, well worth the time spent.

Then off towards Portrush and Portsteward , places with thousands of static caravans and plenty of golf courses. For some strange reason I carried on and ended up on small site in a quaint village Castlerock.

This was slightly off plan today however the weather was good so a small drive today and make up for it tomorrow when the forecast looks very bad.

Time for a bike ride and another 2 visits to NT properties, and even good enough to wear sandals ! summer for an afternoon?

Day 05 :- Wednesday: Londonderry, NI
Miles: 25 Time: less than a hour Moving Ave: gentle,coast views Wx: overcast

One of the original canons on the walls from the 1600's

A view of the bogside from the walls

Bloody Sunday memorial in the Bogside

Free Derry wall

Paul with the peace bridge in the background

Notice who has collected a carrier bag of shopping

We are off plan now, we were enjoying the coast so much that we decided to go with the coastal route and take our time. Only spent about 45 minutes behind the wheel today and had the van parked up for 11am on a small site just outside Derry.

Took the bus and had a fantastic day walking around Derry. The city walls are fantastic and form a complete loop. A small diversion into the Bogside district, an area you feel you have already been too as you have seen the images so much on the TV over the years. Even a visit to the Bogside Bloody Sunday museum was worth the time it had many artifacts from this terrible day in their history.

The time disappeared quickly and it was almost dark before we managed a visit to the newly opened peace bridge.

Day 06/07 :- Thursday/Friday : Strandhill, Sligo , Eire
Miles: 150 Time: 7hrs Moving Ave: 35mph Wx: mostly dry, odd heavy shw

Map showing travel to date, notice the loop to the north, excellent run

We are well off plan now, and headed north to view what the most northern tip of Southern Ireland had to offer. The scenery was great but we noticed a lack of campgrounds in these parts. We never got the very top at Mallin head, I have left that for a run on the bike one day.

Our first look around was in Buncrana a lovely looking town, just my sort of place more pubs than I could count then a curry shop at the end of the street.

Letterkeeny was next however this looked very busy so I turned around and headed south. My intention was to stop in Donegal town but this place does not have camping facilities unless you was to stay on the harbour without facilities. It would not have bothered me but Karen does not have the same passion for a car park in town centers as myself. I asked at the tourist info and was informed that Donegal county only has 5 campsites and 3 of these are in the same town.

So onward I drove and ended up in Strandhill a seaside village to the west of Sligo popular with wind surfers, the name sort of gave it away. Anyway it has enough to keep us happy with a couple of pubs and a chippy.

Main street Strandhill,the campsite is just to the left behind the shops and pubs,
a good location and a sunny evening.

The evening would pass by in the Strand bar, this place was busy busy and then the Irish music started.
So good that we decided to stop the second night

Having a second day gave us a chance to have a good look around , this is the highest mountain in the area

Look the other way and you have the sea, note the gray seal

and to the right

We even took in a trip to the airport and a crew member gave us a good insight into operations.
Karen enjoys a bit of showbiz gossip and her ears perked up when he said the only jet that comes into the airport now is when Westlife return home, one of the band lives in the village.

Cycle route in blue , followed by the walk in Green

Then time for a walk after lunch and Karen was none to pleased when the path was closed and I took a short cut through the golf course

Some where over the rainbow...a fine view from the campsite
Day 08 :- Saturday : Louisburgh, Co. sligo , Eire
Miles: 95 Time: 5 hrs Moving Ave: 30mph Wx: sunny , odd clouds

On top of Knocknarea

Campsite in the background

That's the top of Knocknarea ...the big cairn it's lucky to carry a stone from the bottom and place it on the top ..
It now measure 55m wide by 10m.. Oops another Geocache!!

Time to move again and today's destination Westport so being a short run allowed us time to have a walk up the hill that overshadowed the village .Knocknarea stood just 100o ft but had loads of history attached to it.

The 327 meter high mountain known as Knocknarea totally dominates the Cuil Irra peninsula. Sitting proudly on top is Queen Maeve's Cairn, a neolithic passage tomb.

Anyway by the time we reached Westport it was full, some cycle event had the place rammed . It wasn't possible to park a toothbrush let alone a motorhome. So on we went and ended up in a lovely village Louisburgh parked by the river. We were told that this was okay and no need to worry, the small village was loaded with bars and the life does not appear on a Saturday till 10.30pm and goes on till the early hours. This we were told would be our only problem , people having a good time and making a bit of noise. so best to stop out then.

Talk about bad timing?? Last week Julia Roberts was in the village eating ice cream from the same place I had mine, I always knew we had something in common.

Day 09/10 :- Sunday, Monday : Cliften , Co. Galway, Eire
Miles: 45 Time: 3 hours Moving Ave: 25mph Wx: sun then showers

A nice early morning bike ride

A nice 12 mile loop from Louisburgh

In comes Karen

Maybe another day , take the boat to Clare Island

Nice car park for our Saturday night

A monument to the Doolough tragedy famine victims , quite a sad story

The road to Cliften

We managed to take 2 hitch hikers all the way today

A good start to the day, a nice sunny 12 mile cycle ride followed by a leisurely drive to Cliften , arriving at 3pm in time for a clean up and a walk into town. Campsite nice location but 2km out of town. Providing a nice scenic walk in and a taxi back (I hope).

Day 2 and after a late night partying in town we had another nice cycle ride doing the famous Sky road loop from Cliften a nice 14 miler.

The sky road from Cliften and the location of another Geocache

The beach looked fantastic, this is the end of the peninsula a nice 14 mile bike trip from the camp site

Paul's first successful stone skimming

Cycle route on the Skye road

Clifton campsite had excellent views and the pitch was perfect
Day 11 :- Tuesday: Roundstone, Co. Galway, Eire
Miles: 20 Time: 5hrs Moving Ave: 20mph Wx: Nice with one shower

At last Karen has a smile(or wind) after finding the Allcock and Brown monument

View of Cliften from the monument

Ballycoonnely beach

Roundstone harbour

Roundstone harbour

Gurteen beech from our pitch on the site, Paul is in the water

Of we went but only 20 miles around the coast to Roundstone, a beautiful spot with lovely beaches. Many stops on the way to paddle in the water and take in the views.

Our must do today was to visit the Allcock and Brown monument which about 20 years previous I spent hours with Karen to find the spot where Allcock and Brown crashed their plane after the first flight across the Atlantic. Only to find out later that as they crashed in marshland the monument was elsewhere (1.5 miles away). Well we never did find it but we sure got wet.

Tonight's site is if nothing else in a wonderful location right on the beach. Made even better by the gent on the next pitch playing a banjo type instrument as we sip a beer, except for Paul who is happier swimming.

Day 12/16 :- Wed/Sunday :Doolin, Co. Clare, Eire
Miles: 105 Time: 6hrs or more Moving Ave: 29mph Wx: overcast mad shower

Shame about the clouds covering the top of the 12 bens

Fishing was the number one priority here, this was the other 180deg view from the Bens

A different angle looking back , I just kept stopping (okay another Geocache)

Now the Burren, just at the top of "The Corkscrew"on the route to Doolin

Paul at the same viewpoint, lost count how many photos I have here over the years

Well after a quiet night sitting watching the waves we were up and ready no earlier than when we have climbed into the pits late after a daft night out listen to the good old music and washing it down with a few pints of the black stuff.

My desire to spend more time in Connemara has yet to be fulfilled. It was probably made worse by having a drive as close as I could get to the twelve Bens. Okay than another reason to return.

then the trudge a 80 mile drive through Galway city on roads much better on a bike than the motorhome. Reaching doolin a leisurely 5pm and shock at how many people are about. The boat trips to the Arran Islands and the Cliffs of Moher looked very popular.

Well home for at least a couple of nights and this looks like the winner of site of tour and we haven't even used the facilities yet.

It was so good in Doolin we extended our stay here first to the Saturday and then when we got up on Sunday we looked at the weather and decided why move . Lets do an Aran Island trip.

Doolin shopping

Then off to walk the coastal path to the Cliffs of Moher. Fantastic if only the last 500m had been complete.It turned out that work had stopped to allow the birds to nest, finished for next time.

Then the beauty of the cliffs over 600ft high and from a bad start the views were to be had.The tower in the distance at the end of the cliffs is 3 miles away..

Then the beauty of me and Paul

Oh the visitors center, we walked so missed paying to get in

Doolin harbour just 100 meters from the campsite entrance

It even looked good in the rain

So it was raining. So lets get a bus to Lisdoonvarna, famous for it's matchmaking festival in September which lasts 6 weeks. People come back year after year (Cant be that good can it)

The Roadside Tavern a quaint spot with a micro brew. The bus never came and we were stuck here 2 hours

Then we got dropped off in Doolin.......

Then had to walk past the beer tent..we were there on the opening night Friday

Not too much to drink at the beer festival, so up for a bike ride .... The sign covers them

Saturday brought a good day and we returned on cycle to the cliffs to walk between the towers, 3 miles on a path with no rails and very tight in places. The drop is only 600 foot.

Moher Tower at last.

Karen and Paul relax on the edge. ( Doolin is just about Paul's head )


Dropping back down to Doolin on the road

and guess what yet another bar, McDermott's another tidy spot and Paul finds a nice corner.

The sky was quite impressive tonight.

It made for a good ride back to the campsite

The sunset from the motorhome

Sunday would see us of on a boat trip to the Aran island of Inisheer

The town was bigger than I thought it would be, the campsite small (no cars)

Cycle route around Inisheer

The harbour

The shipwreck, Plessey been here since a hurricane in 1960

Paul investigates possible damage

Cliffs of Moher in the distance, if Karen's brother wanted a boat he would buy this one.

Karen even got to do some overtaking today on her bike..it was moving honest

Lighthouse hunting,Inisheer it all made for good bike riding as only a few cars exist on the island
Day 17/18 :-Monday/Tuesday : Dingle , Co. Kerry Eire
Miles: 105 + 32 tour Time: 4hrs + all day Moving Ave: 31mph + 20mph Wx: mixed but not bad

What was this next to us in Doolin camp site?

Time for Paul to enjoy his breakfast at Doolin harbour before we finally departed

Ferry across the Shannon saves about 50 miles and provides a rest at €20

Mt Brandon in the background and Paul points it out for next time

Dick Macs bar Dingle, one side a bar the other a leather craft shop, once a cobblers

Paul's hasn't seen the movie but knows who this is!!

Time to move on or else we would miss Dingle altogether and I think Karen who had ben away from here for a long time fancied another look. I must admit dingle is one of my rated places that I am always happy to visit.

The drive was slowish but nice and very scenic, I went away from the GPS and decided on the using the Shannon ferry. Arrived in Dingle for 3pm and parked on the harbour, where we ended up staying for the night. Dingle is not well served with camping facilities and we have done the same as others and had a free night in the car park.

Karen was a bit shocked seeing town, and could not comprehend the commercialism that had taken place since her last visit, disgusted she was until she found a jumper that took her fancy and all was well.

Anyway it must be okay as after a good night out we have stopped for another, returning to the same car park after a tour of the peninsular. We visited both campsites close to Dingle and one does not take units our size and the other is 5 miles from the pub, easy choice.

Lovely morning view from our car park

Gallarus Oratory dating back to around 900AD walls 4 foot thick

Lunch at the beach
Ready for a plodge

Then it gets you

It was getting a bit gray by the time we started our walk , that's the Blasket Islands in the background people lived on the island until 1952.

Good views throughout

Up and over proper stiles

Complete with how to use, health and safety gone wrong ?

This was the school house built for the movie "Ryan's Daughter" it only has 3 sides to allow the cameras to operate, sadly looking a bit worse for wear now.

Boys and girls entrance, someone's pinched the signs, Just after this it rained and boy did it rain
Day 19 :- Wednesday : Roscrea : Co. Tipperary : Eire
Miles: 138 Time: 4 hrs Moving Ave: 44mph Wx: Rain showers off and on

A visit to Dingle Brewery, no carry outs available can't make enough of it.

Dad wonders if he can fit one of these in his garage

The South Pole Inn at Annascaul opened by the polar explorer Tom Crean

Final look around Dingle and a chance for karen to do more shopping followed by Paul getting rid of the last of his Euros.

My choice was to spend them on a brewery tour, 6€ to have a look round on your own followed by a pint of the brew. They only brew one beer and that's a lager named after the great explorer Tom Crean.

Stopped for lunch about 15 miles from Dingle in a bar call The South Pole, owned by Tom Crean's family and dedicated to him. The place was fantastic with loads of memorabilia about the place.

Talking about explorers and getting away and doing things had a chance to have a beer with a guy last night and also bumped into him today, an Englishman Mark Swain who was in town to launch his book about his cycle ride from Dingle to Japan. What an achievement 10000 miles taken 9 months. I thought I was good coast to coast 130 miles. That was after the previous nights chat with a lad about my Wainwright's, his son completed them all by the age of 5.

Day 20 :- Thursday : Home
Miles: 360 Time: 11h 15mins Moving Ave: 50 mph Wx: Dry

finally on the Stena Line HSS from Dun Laoghaire to Holyhead

A decision to hit home in one without an overnight in Wales, 2 hours to the ferry and after leaving the boat at 3.30pm and clearing Holyhead traffic we were home for 9.20pm and even managed to pick Spice One up on way home.
Staying at
1 195 195 Jordanstown,Belfast NI £19 Y Loughshore Brand New, Small 7.1
2 85 280 Bushmills Co Antrim NI £23 Y Ballyness Fantastic set up 7.5
3 20 300 as above   £20        
4 33 333 Castlerock NI £17 N Castlerock Hol Park you get what you pay for 5.7
5 25 358 Londonderry NI £15 N Faughan Motel Basic but all you need 6
6/7 150 508 Strandhill Eire £24 Strandhill good facilities and nice spot 7.2
8 95 603 Louisburgh Eire free Pub Council CP best car park yet N/A
9/10 45 648 Cliften Eire £21 Y Shanaheever great pitches, 1.6km to town 7.1
11 20 668 Roundstone Eire £20 N Gurteen Bay The beech was fantastic 6.1
12-16 105 773 Doolin Eire £20 Y Nagles a wonderful set up 8.5
17/18 105+35 913 Dingle Eire free N Harbour CP Nice views for free N/A
19 137 1050 Roscrea Eire £21 N Streamstone It served it's purpose 6.7
20 360 1410 Home UK lots Always nice to be home, at least for a few days  

So that's the voting over, very complex matrix developed and controlled every day by Paul, Doolin was fantastic.

Diesel was £1.25 (€1.58) : Guinness was £3.10 (€3.90): milk was white : £1 = €1.25

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