IRELAND 2011

My wife Pam and I toured NW and Northern Ireland 24 Apr - 12 May. This was our fourth trip to Ireland, but the first time Pam and I want by ourselves (trips 1 and 2 were with our son Bryan and Pam's father and trip 3, last year, was with another couple that have been friends of ours since high school). We decided to go as a pre-retirement adventure while my parents watched our son Beau. We flew to Shannon airport from JFK, arriving just before 0600 on 25 April, a bank holiday (the Irish term for the Monday of a 3 day weekend) since it was Easter weekend. We struggled to find a place to eat breakfast because all the restaurants we passed on the way to Westport were closed, even those in downtown Galway. We toured Westport and its environs, went to Achill (sounds like "hackle") Island (connected to Ireland via a short causeway), and then came back to Westport. We drove to Silgo via Ballycroy National Park, toured the Ceide (sounds like "cay-juh") Fields, a buried neolithic archeology site on the coast SW of Donegal Town. We pressed on to Donegal Town the next day and spent several days there touring local sights. We went to the Slieve League Cliffs and Glenveagh National Park and were lucky enough to stumble upon a traditional Irish music festival in Adara (sounds like "ard-ruh"). We went to Northern Ireland to tour the Giants Causeway, the Bushmills Whiskey distillery, and the Ulster American Folk Museum in Armargh. We went back to Adara to stay in a very quaint B&B, The Green Gate (operated by a Frenchman no less). As we headed back to the airport, we stayed in Castlebar the day before touring the Museum of Country Life just outside of town. We spent our last night in Limerick, which also coincided with the first real rain of our entire trip (not like Ireland at all the locals pointed out frequently). We are often asked "why Ireland?" The short answer is that the people are really friendly, the language barrier is minimal (entertaining and often amusing in fact), and the people are so friendly. The full Irish breakfasts at the Bed and Breakfasts, where we typically stay, are another good reason.