Published: June 23rd 2010June 18th 2010
Waking early the plan had been to hit the jacuzzi again but rumbling tums meant the first port of call was the breakfast buffet. Top quality black pudding was enough to please me, yes I'm easy that way. Today was warm but overcast (thankfully) which was perfect for our intended climb up Knocknarea.
Armed with water and a few Mars Bars we drove up to the base (well prob about half way up) and set off up the mountain (more of a hill at 330m/1000ft). It was a nice leisurely walk for the first few hundred metres but once off the gravelled path the climb got steeper although still nothing too arduous. Once we got to the top the views were truly spectacular.
Gazing south towards Galway or North towards Ben Bulben offered great views. Eastwards we could see towards Lough Gill and to the west was Strandhill and the stretching sands. We sat overlooking Strandhill for a while until the cold wind began to make our eyes water a bit too much, prompting a move back towards Maeve's Tomb to lie in the lea for a while.
The cairn is about 4500 years old
and legend has it that Queen Medb (Maeve) of Connaught is entombed here, standing up in full battle armour, facing her enemies in Ulster, especially thon pesky Cu Chullain lad. All something to do with cattle rustling by the way and trying to have bigger bullocks than her hubby.
It's a great place, although a few later visitors broke our peace and prompted us to move on. Irish Heritage needs to get its act together though - the cairn is showing wear and tear from all those clambering over it and having one sign at the carpark doesn't really discourage this.
After working our way back down we headed off in the car to Carrowkeel to have a coffee, bizarrely in a chinese takeaway - Italian coffeeshop by day, Chinois Takeaway by night - this is cosmopolitan Oireland at it's best. Refreshed it was onward to Carrowmore Tombs for a bit more culture.
Although not much there to see, it was a pleasant walk and the reconstructed cairn allows a glimpse into what Medb's Lump of Butter could be like inside. The site also had it's fair share of wild Hare's running around. Considering some of the
tombs/dolmens are around 6000 years old it's impressive any have survived, especially with pillaging farmers and a church that didn't take too kindly to anything pagan.
All cultured out it was time for more modern pleasures. A short jaunt to Strandhill started with a walk along the esplanade and a climb up the sand dunes from where we could see the abortive attempts of the beginner surfers. The climb up Knocknarea and the dunes had angered the calf muscles so it was delicious to enter the Spa for a seaweed bath.
Starting with a 10 minute steam to get the pores opened, we emerged sweating like paedophiles in a Barney suit. Thankfully we had a warm Victorian freestanding bath each to clamber into. In it was the seaweed which gives the water a lovely oily feel. Relaxing the tired muscles was a delight. By this stage we were famished and decided pizza was the answer. Bella Vista just up the road hit the spot. With a cooling shandy, it was wolfed down with little conversation!
With a few hours relaxing at the hotel, we hit the bar in time to watch the beginning of England's game against
Algeria. Turgid viewing but was livened up as the Sligo culchies arrived for the Tommy Tiernan gig. Some shocking sights...
The warm up act was Gerry Mallon - generally reputed to be hit and miss he was pretty funny. Certainly got the room laughing enough to keep it in good form. At this stage though it became obvious that the hallions behind us were never going to fck up. Moreover Angela was banging the wine in and was having trouble picking up on Gerry's lilt.
Soon Tommy was on (coincidentally a few mins after the England game finished...) and it was good but the dicks behind us were getting on a few people's nerves. Despite staff speaking to them they kept at it. Worried they would make it harder for Ang to decipher Tiernan, I turned to her to see if she wanted to move but guess what? Sound fooking asleep!
After 15 mins kip, i woke here and got her to move to the back. There were a fair few folk there too and later on talking with a few other guests it seemed the drunks were not just limited to our section but fairly widespread.
Real shame as Tiernan is very very funny but with a fair few tinker culchies hammered, it made bits of the show hard to focus on.
After the show and after some serious questioning form the hotel's smallest woman employee we finally got into the resident's bar. Deciding to take our drinks up, we retired. One sip of Cabernet later, Angela was again dead to the world and I was left to watch the World Cup highlights. Damn...
There are more photos below