Driving in Ireland

Road in IrelandSingle Lane Road in Ireland with Pullouts

Driving in Ireland the most common speed limit is 100 kph or about 62 mph.  This is down a road that is so narrow the tall green hedge on each side of the road has a small notch cut out of it where the automobile side view mirrors snap off the branches.  Certainly road crews do some major trimming from time to time, but these mirror notches are a common sight.  These vines and hedges make the narrow roads even more precarious as they encroach over the roadway.  Beneath these hedges and vines are not just more plants but solid rock walls just waiting to rip your car frame apart.  Around hairpin turns, one lane bridges and 90-degree turns, the speed limit remains 100kph.  Sometimes the words “GO MALL” will be painted in the road, which means to go slow in Gaelic, but still no posted reduction in the speed limit.
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Carrick-A-Rede Bridge crossing

Carric a Rede Bridge

What is now a fun tourist attraction in Northern Ireland near the town of Ballentoy used to be the means of getting to a very important salmon fishery for a hundred fishermen.  When first erected the Carrick-a-Rede Bridge was simply a thick rope spanning the 60 feet between ridges and 1,000 feet in the air.  The fishermen would carry their equipment over in the morning and the fish they caught back in the evening, going hand over hand.  The distant island serves as a breakwater for the ocean waves from the Atlantic.  We could see large waves crashing the rocks on one side of the island, but calm waters for the fishermen to string their nets on the other.  This point is no longer used by the fishermen as the Atlantic Salmon is on the endangered species list.  A salmon fisherman’s house still on the island is shown in the picture below, click the ‘continue reading’ button below to see it.
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Westport, Ireland

coffee-shop(Click to Enlarge)

This is one of those lay-over locations or stops we scheduled.  We had traveled five hours from the last stop in Dingle, and had another five to go to get to Bushmills and the Giant’s Causeway at the northern tip of Ireland.  So we stopped for two nights in Westport, a city of about 5,500 people.  Finally in a bigger city, we opted for Indian food, and took my photographer friend along for his first ever dish of Indian cuisine.  With no real sights to see, we walked around the town, photographing the buildings and city life.
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The Cliffs of Moher… and More and More People….

Cliffs-of-MoherCliffs-of-Moher-20140823-_ALL3866No matter how interesting the local attraction, I dislike being herded into areas with 22 large motor coaches and tour groups of all nationalities, holding group tour flags to keep everyone together.  Tourists take endless selfies, posing in front of yet another scene with arms stretched out and trying for an impossible glamour shot.  Generally these places are closed before the good evening light and are not yet open for the nice morning light.  Herd the tourists in, collect their entrance fee and off they go to the next tourist trap, likely never really experiencing the location.  The nearby town of Liscannor is a complete traffic jam of people buying and hocking touristy items, searching for a restaurant, or just trying to find a spot to park.
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Dingle Peninsula, Ireland

Dingle Sports Bar

Dingle was our base for exploring this well-traveled peninsula and its fishing villages.  Dingle seems to have the right mix of locals and good restaurants to serve the many tourists.  While we were there we were often rained on five or more times a day.  This peninsula is dotted with many smaller fishing towns, all having several nice pubs and restaurants.  Late into the evening we could hear what sounded like an entire bar singing Beatles songs.
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Kenmare, Ireland

Castletownbere, IrelandKenmare, Ireland is a small town in southern Ireland that serves as a very good base for exploring the peninsula via the well-traveled 110 mile Ring of Kerry and the smaller peninsula to the south, the Ring of Beara.  Wonderful views of the North Atlantic,  great stone walls where sheep graze waiting for their next sheering and vast fields of vivid shades of green await the travelers to this area.  Miles and miles of thick, solid stone walls are a striking and common sight.  No mortar binds these rocks.  What backbreaking work it must be to first dig these rocks out of the fields where the sheep graze, then carry them to the wall and sort through them for the right shape to fit with the adjacent rocks.  At least they had cool weather and great views during their efforts. Even more picturesque is the adjacent Ring of Beara, which we circumnavigated twice.
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