Mark Nelson


Mark Nelson

Travelling to Ireland with a couple of buddies from college. This could be our woodstock....

Europe » Ireland » County Dublin » Dublin May 19th 2011

We made our way to Midleton to tour the Jameson Irish Whiskey distillery. This was on Geoff’s must do list and I am glad we did this; very interesting place and another surprising highlight of the trip. We got a wee bit turned around in Cork City trying to get to Midleton, but we made it finally and Geoff did a terrific job navigating the city of confusing signs and his frustrated navigator! Irish whiskey has been distilled in this location for several hundred years. We learned about the distillery process (with many comments about how superior it was to scotch and American methods). At the end of the tour Geoff volunteered to participate in a whiskey taste test and earned a certificate…he was quite proud. We decided to stay the night closer to Dublin, as ... read more
Geoff's certificate
Sign for Araglin

Europe » Ireland » County Kerry » Dingle Peninsula May 16th 2011

The first week of our trip was over, and Brian had to go home. We walked him to the bus stop in Galway, and bid our campanion slán agus sábháilte turas (farewell and safe journey)! Then Geoff and I drove to the Dingle Peninsula, in County Kerry. The drive took most of the day and by the time we checked into our B&B that night we were tired and hungry. Had a great time at the local pub where many townsfolk were playing music and singing songs...met some visitors from the states as well (Flint Michigan, of all places). The next day we explored the Dingle Peninsula. This is the southwestern most peninsula in Ireland and quite beautiful. We drove to Dingle by way of the Connor Pass. This is a very tall (very dangerous in ... read more
On the road to County Kerry
View of Dingle Bay from our B&B front door
Dingle Peninsula

Europe » Ireland » County Galway » Connemara May 14th 2011

Now that the bike trip is over, the remainder of our visit would be by car. We stayed in Galway for two days. Thi region is know as the Connemara and it is absolutely beautiful. Lots of trees, open pastures, mountains and rivers dot the landscape. Our plan was to head to the national park to clime Diamondhead, a mountain peak that gives a spectacular view of the valley to the bay of Galway. On the way, we stopped and lunched on cheese and bread we bought at the Galway market that morning, sitting by a mountain stream. We then stopped at Kylemore Abbey near Clifden, an 18th century castle run by benedictine nuns. Absolutely spectacular and the gardens were just blooming. Then we climbed Diamond Hill (but only the second 'blue' path...too late to climb ... read more
connemara region
Our little car
Kylemore Abbey

Europe » Ireland » County Galway » Galway May 13th 2011

The last 12 miles! The road from Corofin to Ennis was easy to ride. We were able to enjoy a side trip to Dysert O,Dea, a medieval tower house/castle. This was the site of a famous battle in the 13th century where the Irish Chieftains defeated a large Norman army. We were able to explore all the floors of this structure and see what life was like back in that time (definitely not the Hilton…I want a heavenly bed…just being honest). Brian and Geoff especially like the ‘kill hole’…a hole in the floor where residents could pour boiling water or boiling oil on the doorstep of would be intruders…home protection system’s early start I suppose! Actually that would make a great advertising campaign….anyway, cool to see but we were ready to find our way home. Now, ... read more
Dysert O,Dea
View from the top
Cliffs of Moher

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » The Burren May 13th 2011

Ballyvaughn (Baile Ui Bheachain) is a small harbor village located on the south shores of Galway Bay, in the northwest corner of the Burren. The village is surrounded by megalithic tombs such as Poulnabrone dolmen, celtic ring forts such as Caherconnell Stone Fort, medieval churches and castles. The road out of Ballyvaughn led to Corofin, and we had a very pleasant FLAT ride for about 3km. Then the climb into the Burren began. This climb was about 4.5 miles, but either I was getting stronger (finally) or else the excitement to finally see the Poulnabrone dolmen propelled me forward. Halfway up the climb, we stopped to rest and soak up the scenery of the valley behind us. I noticed a break in the rock wall that lined the road and decided to explore. Beyond the break, ... read more
Burren valley co clare
Road from Ballyvaughn
Interesting break in wall

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Ballyvaughan May 12th 2011

We departed Lisdoonvarna heading for the coastal road to Ballyvaughn. The clouds parted and the sun started to shine as we made our way to the coast. With the weather improving, and the easier route, our spirits improved tremendously. The route was a beautiful 14 mile cycle along the Clare coastline with some spectacular views of the Aran Islands and Galway Bay. I will keep this entry short and let the photos speak for themselves. We made it to Ballyvaughn without mishap at 5:15, and found our next stop which was the Hyland Burrens Hotel. This was more of a hotel, than a B&B, and it was big, comfortable with several lounges and wireless that actually works. After a good dinner and drink, we turned in for the night ready for the last leg of our ... read more
Coastal Road to Ballyvaughn
The summer house!
Castle on the coastal road

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » The Burren May 12th 2011

Doolin is a small fishing village on the west coast of Ireland, often referred to as the capital of Irish traditional music. There are also numerous archaeological sites, many dating to the Iron Age and earlier. The name Doolin comes from “Dubh Linn” or black lake, which is also by coincidence the old Irish name for Dublin, the capital city of Ireland. It is said that the black lake was located on the site of what is today O’Connors Farmhouse B&B and Campsite (we confused the B&B with the Pub…very embarrassing). During the early parts of the 20th century Doolin was a ‘Gaeltacht’ or Irish speaking area, where in fact many of the people only spoke Irish. We awoke to a cloudy but pleasant morning, ate, packed up our gear (and believe me I lightened the ... read more
The hill that almost did me in
Mark in Ireland
Ballynagoman Castle

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Doolin May 11th 2011

We made the correct turn after the Kilmaley Inn and were convinced that even though we might be a wee bit behind schedule, that we could get to our first lunch stop (Lahinch) in time for a late lunch (faithful reader spoiler alert…according to my journal, we actually made it to the ‘lunch’ spot at 5pm that evening…but more about that later). The back road we were on was quite pleasant….the sun was shining, the landscape was quite beautiful and as we continued to climb higher and higher, the grand Irish scenery came into view. We were to take this lovely road for 2.5 miles then turn at a well-sign posted road to Inagh (for those of you that have travelled to Ireland before, you are now laughing heartily at our assumption that all roads have ... read more
Artesian well path
Steps to Artesian well
Artesian well

Europe » Ireland » County Clare » Ennis May 11th 2011

Ennis is the capital of County Clare, situated on the bend of the river Fergus. Ennis owes its origin to the O’Briens of Thomond who moved from Limerick and settled in Clonroad between 1208 and 1216. Donnchadh Cairbreach O Brien invited the Franciscans to establish a settlement within his domain in 1240. The Friary dates to the 14th century and at one stage had 350 friars and 600 pupils. It was considered the finest educational institution in Ireland for the clergy and upper classes. In 1615 the Friary became a parish church and the last of the old friars died in 1617. Some returned in 1628 but the Friary was destroyed by Cromwell’s forces in 1651 (there is a recurring theme of destruction due to Cromwell throughout the entire region). Ennis became a thriving market town ... read more
Ennis Brook
Pretty Ennis Brook
Irish road signs

Europe » Ireland » County Kilkenny » Kilkenny May 10th 2011

Kilkenny is a medieval town south of Dublin. There was supposed to be an interesting castle to explore…we had a lot of trouble finding it. There were a lot of churches, however, each one we thought was the castle! We basically wandered aimlessly around the town looking for this castle…we did finally find it…looks a bit like Buckingham Palace, but don’t tell the locals that. Had a terrific lunch at this small café…mushroom soup, irish brown bread, and a blueberry muffin with fresh cream. It started to rain so we left Kilkenny to find Ennis, the starting point of our first day of biking tomorrow. We chose to take the scenic route…took three hours! Geoff drove, Brian navigated, and I napped in the back seat and snapped an occasional photo. The sky became gloomy and it ... read more
Church Cemetary Gate
Church wall effigy
Kilkenny Castle

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