Ireland - April 2007

Ireland's flag
Europe » Ireland » County Galway
April 20th 2007
Published: August 8th 2007
Edit Blog Post

IRELAND, APRIL 20 - MAY 5, 2007


Note: Click on photos to enlarge - particularly helpful with route map.

As many of you know, Bernard is finishing his Ph.D. under the supervision of the National University of Ireland at Galway (NUIG). In April of each year all the Ph.D. candidates are invited to Galway for a week of meetings with their supervisors, to present their research thus far, have social outings, dinners, etc. A very nice week, after which Bernardo was very jazzed about finishing his dissertation.*

Bernie’s father’s family is from County Mayo (both of Bernie’s grandparents were born there), which borders County Galway. We actually stayed in Headford, County Galway, but were only a few miles from the Galway/Mayo border and closer to his family than where Bernie’s Ph.D. seminar was taking place, which was in Galway City. (Bernie rented a second, small car to get back and forth between Headford and Galway City.)

In addition to the seminar, this trip was about family, so I’ll give you the cast of characters. Bernie’s older sister Claudia, two of her daughters, Denise and Colleen, and their two daughters, McKayla (8) and
Annaghkeen Cottages, Headford, GalwayAnnaghkeen Cottages, Headford, GalwayAnnaghkeen Cottages, Headford, Galway

We rented two of these units - one 1-bedroom for Bernie & Me, and a 2-bedroom for the girls. That way B could do the reading and studying he needed for his seminar.
Jonna (5), accompanied us to Ireland for their first visit.

As you have been reading about in the newspapers recently, there is a huge backlog at U.S. passport offices. When Colleen had applied for Jonna’s passport in January, she asked if she needed to pay the ‘expediting’ fee for travel in April. She was told “of course not,” and then, naturally, didn’t receive her passport in time. Colleen had actually cancelled the trip because no amount of phone calls, even from their State Representative, could shake loose Jonna’s passport, although they were told on several occasions that it “was on the way.” We were at JFK when Colleen called to say the passport had arrived and she was going to join us three days late. Of course the airport in Shannon is hours away from where we were staying; the flight arrived in the early a.m., and driving on the Irish roads in the dark is something a Yankee finds very difficult. Colleen and Jonna good-naturedly waited at the airport until it got light and we would venture out on the roads.

Before Colleen and Jonna could join us, one of the cousin’s (Tom & Margaret Doherty)
Annaghkeen Cottages BoatsAnnaghkeen Cottages BoatsAnnaghkeen Cottages Boats

Our cottages were a few minutes from this lovely lake, Lough Corrib. This is a very rural part of Ireland and we could walk for miles around our cottages on narrow roads and never meet a soul, but you could be sure the ones you did meet gave a friendly greeting and, more often than not, wanted to chat
had thrown us a welcome party - complete with most of the relatives in the area. Margaret outdid herself with poached salmon, turkey, homemade breads and pies - amazing and delicious. It was a fun evening - Claudia and the girls met all the family, the food was superb, and there were LOTS of jokes as these folks are fun.

Tom and Margaret have a sheep farm and there were several lambs that had to be hand-fed. One little guy had a crocked leg and became McKayla’s favorite. She named him Lucky because he was fortunate to be born to Margaret & Tom who wouldn’t ‘put him down’ because of his deformity. Did I mention that McKayla is CRAZY about animals? She was beside herself if she was late to feed the lambs. One evening Margaret kept both the girls all afternoon and into the night so they could feed the animals and play with her nieces and nephews on a nearby farm. Margaret and Tom have 5 boys and I think having Jonna & McKayla around was a pleasure for her. I know the girls loved it all.

The cottages we had rented were wonderful
Bernard, Looking Very IrishBernard, Looking Very IrishBernard, Looking Very Irish

These ruins (and I'm speaking of the church in the background, NOT B)were within a few minutes walk of our cottage in Headford - Ireland is scattered with wonderful rock ruins
and big enough (Claudia and the girls had 2 bedrooms, a full kitchen, living room) so that we could invite the family over also - we felt awkward always accepting their hospitality. One evening another cousin, Paschal Murphy, and his wife, Marie, came over. Paschal is Bernie’s cousin on his grandmother Murphy’s side and is the genealogist for that side of the family (Chris, Tom, & Martin Doherty, and the Dooleys, are from the Dougherty side, but in Ireland it is always spelled ‘Doherty’).

Paschal and Marie also came to the airport when we left, which meant 1 ½ hours of driving (each way) at the crack of dawn for them! They brought more presents for the girls (having already given us presents earlier) and copies of the genealogy Paschal had printed out for Claudia and Bernie - that was the most precious gift of all.

While Bernie was doing his thing at the University, the rest of us were touring: the Cliffs of Moher, The Burren, Connemara National Park, various abbeys, castles and many ruins, charming towns and a beautiful beach almost every day. Yes, the weather was glorious. Actually we had typical weather the first few
Ballintubber Abbey, MayoBallintubber Abbey, MayoBallintubber Abbey, Mayo

Here are Claudia, Denise & Mac in front of this lovely abbey. It is the only church in Ireland that was founded by an Irish king (1216)and is still in use. It was constructed next to the site of a church founded by St. Patrick after he came down from Croagh Patrick
days: overcast, bit of wind, mist. But when Colleen and Jonna arrived, it was sunny and warm from then until we left. The Irish were “gob smacked”** at such pleasant weather so early in the spring; we were delighted! I know in lots of the photos you see us with jackets and hats one, but that was because there was usually a breeze and the hats were either to keep our hair down or protect us from the sun.


Of necessity we rented a van, so it was larger than what I’d driven in Ireland on previous visits. First I was driving on the left, then the roads are narrow, then there is no shoulder, then there are rock walls at the very edge of the roads. Needless to say, rental cars driven by Yankees take a beating. I was doing most of the driving at first, but when Colleen got the hang of it, she was a better driver than I, so I gladly let her do most of the driving. Not before I had knocked off the rim of the side-view mirror (left side - always the left side) and bent one the tire rims.

Back: Brendan Dooley (2nd cousin), Tom Doherty (2nd cousin), Gerard Doherty (Tom's son), Claudia & Bernie. Front: Denise, Therese Dooley (2nd cousin; Brendan's sister), and Chris Doherty Quinn (2nd cousin; Tom's sister)
Between Bernie and Colleen another rim was bent and we had a scrape on the rear fender (the insurance took care of it - we knew the road conditions and wisely took the extra insurance). The biggest problem was on-coming trucks or farm equipment taking up more than their share of the road. We often had to pull to the side, and because of our impaired spatial judgment we often pulled too far over.

One of the funnier (albeit potentially dangerous) incidents happened when I was driving. We were lost (a common occurrence - reading the maps and road signs was a huge challenge, but Denise did a superb job) on back roads and I did a U-turn, but then stayed on the right. I’m driving along and my co-pilot whose job it was to say “stay left, stay left” didn’t notice either (nor did the rest of my passengers). Next thing you know we are baring down on a car whose driver must have been a tourist also because he and his passenger were just dumb struck - in hindsight we laughed about the stricken looks on their faces. We both slowed and I got left, and it
Paschal & Marie MurphyPaschal & Marie MurphyPaschal & Marie Murphy

Paschal (another of Bernie & Claudia's 2nd cousins - their Grandmother Murphy's side) and Marie were a big hit with McKayla & Jonna. McKayla's middle name is Murphy
wasn’t even close but still, an eye opener.


The second week, when Bernard was finished with this seminar, we drove to County Donegal, almost due north and still on the west side of Ireland. Donegal is where the O’Dockartaigh (original spelling) family originated (on the Inishowen peninsula particularly), so there are tons of Dohertys there and the clan has a reunion every five years. Since Bernie’s family moved to Mayo so long ago, there is no way to tell to whom in Donegal they are related, although no doubt they are.

The O’Dockertaigh Castle is privately owned and so we couldn’t get very close. Bernie and Claudia were sure that had the owners known they were in town, an invitation for tea would have been immediately forthcoming

We rented a house in Letterkenny, the largest town in Donegal, although Donegal Castle is in Donegal City. Our accommodations had 4 bedrooms, 2 living rooms, a huge kitchen, washer/dryer, 3 bathrooms - very comfortable, although the owner was a bit weird and had no people skills (unlike our lovely hosts in Headford, Dave and Theresa Clarke). From this base we explored all of
Derry, Northern IrelandDerry, Northern IrelandDerry, Northern Ireland

View of the Guild Hall from 17th Century walls. You could see beautiful buildings and parts of the famous Bogside Murals done during the height of "The Troubles."
Donegal - from Slieve League in the southwest to Malin Head on the Inishowen Peninsula, and is the northern most tip of Ireland. We visited lovely beaches almost every day as Donegal has some of the nicest in Ireland. The girls were stripped and in the water within minutes of arriving at a beach (we choose EU Blue Flag beaches, which are safe) - the moms were hard pressed to keep up with them, gathering the clothes the girls discarded as they headed for the water.

We even ventured over to Derry (Londonderry) in Northern Ireland for a tour of this lovely, once walled city. Some of the walls still exist and much has been restored, canons replaced, and there are plaques with historical commentary on the wall walk, and museums built under the walls - very nicely done.

Derry, Northern Ireland. View of the Guild Hall from 17th Century walls, from which you could see beautiful buildings and parts of the famous Bogside Murals done during the height of 'the Troubles.' Derry aka Londonderry had been a flashpoint for protests, but is now a busy, and peaceful city

I would be remiss if I
Darragh, Margaret  & MacDarragh, Margaret  & MacDarragh, Margaret & Mac

Margaret, Tom's wife, was so good to the girls, as was Darragh - what other boy would suffer so sweetly two little girls who obviously adored him!
didn’t mention how wonderful all of our traveling companions were, and special mention has to be made of McKayla’s and Jonna’s exemplary behavior. In the van they kept themselves occupied (with much encouragement and direction from the moms of course), for example Mac read to Jonna a lot, and they never complained about being in the vehicle too long, and we did TONS of driving. They seemed to enjoy all the sites we visited, be it a beach (their favorite) or a ruined abbey. They were attentive on tours, observed all the rules and were just plain a pleasure to be with. Naturally Denise, Colleen and Claudia had much to do with the girls’ wonderful behavior, and that of course is by example, as they were amazing traveling partners too.

At the end of the visit McKayla had decided that she was going to be 'Adventure Girl' as she had really enjoyed the hiking, climbing around on ruins, etc. Jonna, who does a great impression of Bill Cosby, decided she was going to become a comedian. She certainly has the timing, which she demonstrated on our last day in Ireland. We had to leave Donegal at 5 a.m. to
Feeding the LambsFeeding the LambsFeeding the Lambs

Darragh taught McKayla to feed the lambs (Jonna was a bit afraid)and created an enthusastic helper
get to Shannon by 11 a.m., so were already tired when we approached the airport. I gave B bad directions, so he made a wrong turn. While he was trying to figure out how to get back on the highway, a lady pulled up and blocked his route. Bernardo said “Oh, Jesus Christ!” To which Jonna (from the back of the van) added loudly in her best Southern Baptist preacher’s voice “Hallelujah, Praise the Lord!” Took the starch right out of Bernard’s blasphemy and made us laugh so hard - B couldn’t even drive for a minute or two.

At the end of two weeks I think everybody was ready to come home, although it had been a fun and exciting visit. Actually at the airport Claudia was already talking about “when she returned.” Her third daughter Maria had wanted to come this time, but it hadn’t worked out, so Claudia was already planning to come back with Maria and her husband, John. The big worry was John’s motion sickness. As I’ve mentioned above, it is hard to imagine how narrow and windy the roads in the west of Ireland are. The locals take it in stride, but for
More FamilyMore FamilyMore Family

Back:Thesea Dooley (2nd cousin), Tom Doherty (2nd cousin), Bernie, Cahill Doherty (Tom's son), David Doherty (Tom's son) Middle: Darragh Doherty (Tom's son), Claudia, Chris Doherty Quinn (2nd cousin; Tom's sister)Kneeling: Denise w/MaKayla and Kathy, Cahill's fiancee
us it was a constant source of stress. And for someone with motion sickness, well, it would be difficult.

We too plan to return. Bernie for sure next April, but because of other commitments I have, I’m not sure I’ll be able accompany him. We enjoy the Irish family so much, and as we get to know them better, we grow to love them more. So, I see many trips to Ireland in the future - watch out Mayo, the Yanks are coming (again)!

* Bernie estimates that it will take two more years for him to get his Ph.D. His supervising professor gave him some deadlines - he wants a chapter (one of four) by September, and that is why Bernie isn’t going to Alaska in July with me.

** Your “gob” is your mouth, so being so amazed that you bring your hand and cover your mouth is to be “gob smacked.”

Travel Journal of
Kathy & Bernard Dougherty

Additional photos below
Photos: 30, Displayed: 30


And Even More FamilyAnd Even More Family
And Even More Family

You've seen Brendan, Tom and Christ DQ before. Margaret, Tom's wife is seated. And this was my only shot of Martin (back center), Tom & Chris's brother, so also a 2nd cousin
Colleen & JonnaColleen & Jonna
Colleen & Jonna

Colleen and Jonna are in front of Chris Doherty Quinn's turf shed - she still burns turf in the winter (has her own bog). Colleen fell in love with the aroma of turf as we'd smell it occasionally
Cliffs of Moher, ClareCliffs of Moher, Clare
Cliffs of Moher, Clare

The Moher sea cliffs are in County Clare (south of Galway). At their highest point are 203 meters (660 ft.) high. They extend for miles.
Croagh Patrick, MayoCroagh Patrick, Mayo
Croagh Patrick, Mayo

This is the mountain from which St. Patrick performed his snake-expulsion act. Denise, Mac, Colleen and Jonna climbed quite a way up the 765 meter (2,486 Ft) mountain. The more contrite folks start at Balllintubber Abbey, walk 40 km and then ascend the mountain barefoot!
Statue of St. Patrick, MayoStatue of St. Patrick, Mayo
Statue of St. Patrick, Mayo

This is at the beginning of the climb of Croagh Patrick and is as far as Claudia and I got. While the girls climbed, we shopped, had tea and enjoyed the incredible views from the Croagh
Cong Abbey, MayoCong Abbey, Mayo
Cong Abbey, Mayo

Denise and Mac on bridge in front of the Monks' fishing house. This is behind the ruins of a 12th century abbey, which sits on the site of a 6th century abbey. The ruined abbey is beautiful and they've made its extensive grounds into a park with lovely walks along the river
Kylemore Abbey, GalwayKylemore Abbey, Galway
Kylemore Abbey, Galway

Currently functioning as a girls' boarding school. The abbey had lovely gardens, looked out over a lake, had a wonderful little chapel - we spent all day there
Narrow Roads, GalwayNarrow Roads, Galway
Narrow Roads, Galway

This is a typical street through a town (Headford) and very like most of the roads in west Ireland. Yes, it is a two-way street! I mentioned rock walls rising from the very edge of the roads, but note that buildings do too! (That is Denise and Colleen in the road)
Our RideOur Ride
Our Ride

This VW van was great, had lots of room and good fuel economy (diesel), which was a VERY good thing since gas was approx. $6.50 per gallon!! That is me with my co-pilot, Denise, who was a great navigator (for me and Colleen).
Donegal CastleDonegal Castle
Donegal Castle

The Castle is a museum now and we had the most delightful tour

16th July 2007

B and K!......Thank you for sharing your pics and experiences travelling though Ireland; it's obvious that you had a fantastic time there! :-) And how nice that you'll get to return every so often as Bernie completes his dissertation. I look forward to seeing and hearing more about the Doherty family's future "baptist, televangelist " in the coming years! Great stories.... Shondra
23rd July 2007

Excelente las fotos... y las historias!!! Very Cool country and the pictures are excelent... las disfrute muchisimo!!! y algunas las guarde en mi compu!! jejeje Gracias por la página!!!! un fuerte abrazo y muchos cariños para ustedes.

Tot: 0.224s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 14; qc: 30; dbt: 0.1444s; 1; m:domysql w:travelblog (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.2mb