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Friday On the Road

Galway to Kilkenny, with surprises along the way

overcast 48 °F

The Park House Hotel, right downtown, was an excellent old world hotel with wood paneling everywhere. Restaurant had a Full Irish Breakfast w/poached eggs on toast, two sausages, two hefty pieces of Irish bacon (not the stripy bacon we get), toast, fruits and bread galore (all included in the price). Sister Robin and I took our time. Then it was time for a walkabout of old city centre Galway.

Patrick at the front desk advised us to consult the Budget agent, who advised that the failed accessory plug was a burnt fuse, and gave us directions to an auto shop for the repairs. We found the shop, and they diagnosed the problem as a faulty fuse, replaced it, and Seamus, our Garmin, was back in business. I really do not know how we would have managed, especially with Robin’s navigational skills (example: without Seamus, we had to go by map, which was mostly fine). Me: where’s our exit? Robin: we just passed it. Me: $@£(*)*&^*$£@ (misc. sailor talk). But it worked out, though we were both happy to have a revived Seamus.

Thursday night we had walked round central Galway, and it was brisk but sunny. By this morning, a storm front had moved in, and it was rainy, damp and very cold with about a 30 knot wind. That didn’t deter us. We walked the streets, had another coffee, and asked about where was the best place to buy sweaters. We found it, and Robin and I both bought Aran Island hand knitted sweaters. When we found out they would ship for free, we went shopping in E200, free shipping: a SIGN FROM THE ALMIGHTY!!! I got a charcoal grey pullover, with ancient Celtic symbols, + a white fisherman’s sweater; oh, and a cap, of course.

We had decided to go to Kilkenny, so in the afternoon, we headed off. The first portion was high speed motorway, the M6. These are super highways, two lanes, and almost no traffic. Official speed limits are 120KPH, or about 75MPH. Our Skoda (cheap VW) TDI with standard transmission did us nicely, and we’ll simply leave it that speeds significantly higher were observed. At over 500 KM, we still have over half a tank. Sister Robin observes that I’m pretty good at staying on the left hand side of the road, not jumping the curbs too much, and handling the shifting with the left hand fairly well.

The roundabouts have been either leisurely or challenging. This is not the first time I’ve encountered these, of course, but when a roundabout entails six lanes from four directions, it can be a bit more nerve racking. The general Rules of Engagement are that autos already in the roundabout have the right of way, and you need to yield way. I only got honked at one time! Apparently other drivers don’t appreciate you changing lanes in the middle of the roundabout; funny, people in Virginia change lanes in the middle of a turn all the time!

Passing through south central Ireland, we got off the M6, Seamus, newly revived, steered us through N roads (secondary) and R roads (narrow, country) roads.

Along the way we found amazing sites, and I screeched to a stop. The first of these was the Shannon bridge. This was a fortification on the River Shannon, built in ca. 1800. The purpose of this fortification was to halt a French invasion at Galway, and to stop them from marching to Dublin (at that time, the second largest city in the UK). The French never came, but it was an impressive fortification.

Driving along narrow roads, what I call the ‘twisties’, which I enjoy immensely, working the gearbox and letting the turbocharger do its stuff, we suddenly came upon Clonony Castle. It was an abandoned castle. Again, we screeched to a halt, and dismounted to take some snaps; some of which I’ve included.

Charging down the country road again, we enjoyed many kilometers of scenic driving, hitting more roundabouts than I’ve encountered in a lifetime.

Our final prize find was Achaboe Abbey, founded in AD759. What’s interesting about this Abbey is that the Abbot later was transferred to Salzburg, Austria, and became Bishop there. This substantiates how the Irish monastics, from an early age, travelled in and influenced all of Europe. This is detailed in Thomas Cahill’s book, How the Irish Saved Western Civilisation. Within the last 15 years, the Austrian Ambassador made an official visit, and there is a plaque commemorating this.

Arriving in Kilkenny, we didn’t follow Seamus’ precise guidance, got lost and ended up in rush hour traffic. Finally arriving, we found the direct opposite of Galway’s old world charming hotel, and found an utterly modern hotel; but one which is very comfortable. Interestingly enough, shic and modern was about the same price as old world 4 Star.

After a quiet and light supper (we were scarcely hungry after that Full Irish Breakfast, even at 7PM!), we planned the next day, and sister Robin, the Facebook bandit, sucked up all the bandwidth in the hotel.

Photos to follow!

Posted by stbrides 13:03 Archived in Ireland

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Roundabouts--Ahh yes I remember them when driving lorries in New Jersey. I suppose the Irish call them lorries!


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