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Published: June 25th 2017
Geo: 53.7258, -6.87917
Today, we planned way too much to do. We started, after an exceptional breakfast in the B&B, by driving first to the ruins of Dunluce Castle along the coast road. It was only seven miles away, but took about twenty minutes to get there. It rained most of the day today and had started by the time we got to the castle. Nevertheless, we paid for concession tickets, accepted the free audio guides, and went in. These audio guides were well done with just enough information at each stop to keep it interesting and keep the tour moving.
The stones were wet and slick as we tried to climb up stairs and walk over cobblestones. It was not very easy to get around, but the castle is one of the more interesting ones we have seen. We had heard a story about the kitchen of Dunluce Castle falling into the sea taking several cooks with it and causing the lady of the house to become fed up with living there. She left and never returned. But after going to visit, we found out that the story is not exactly true.
The second stop of the day was the Giant's
Causeway just a few more miles east on the coast road. Lots of people, including a number of busloads, were there. The visitors' centre for the Giant's Causeway is elaborate with a large gift shop area. It is very touristy. We parked the car and were told that we would pay in the visitors' center, but to retain the ticket to show that we had paid when we leave.
We walked the half mile to the famous rock formations. They really are quite remarkable to look at, but again they were wet and slick and I slipped walking on them several times. It felt a wee bit dangerous. After a short while, we got in the line to take the bus back up to the car park rather than walking back uphill in the rain. This stop seemed like a bucket list thing to do, but not significantly interesting.
Third stop of the morning was the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge. Again, it was just a few more miles down the road. We found it pretty easily, too, and it was swamped with people. Since it was still cool and raining, we went into the cafe for lunch first. I ordered soup
and drinks for both of us while Philip found us a table. The ham and pea soup was just perfect for the day. I bought a Coke--one of the containers from their current promotion "Have a Coke with 'Somebody'". This one said 'Have a Coke with Richard'. The one I drank at Titanic Belfast yesterday said, "Have a Coke with Dad". Am I getting a message from him?
After lunch, we walked a little way toward the bridge, but decided that today was not going to be the day for us to cross the bridge. It is just too rainy and slippery. We will go back another time. Back in the car, we head toward Ballymoney and the Dark Hedges. The Garmin that we have accepts only street addresses or geographic coordinates as destinations, not prominent sites, so last night we made sure to look up the nearest street address that we could find. There is a golf course at the intersection just northwest of the Dark Hedges so we used that in the Garmin. We found the golf course but overshot the road to the Dark Hedges and had to turn around and come back. When we got there,
there were only two other cars stopped with the people outside taking pictures. When they moved off, we were able to get a clear view of the hedges and took some good photos.
We pulled over to the side of the road so I could put the next address into the Garmin. We headed for the hotel in Kells, Meath, Ireland, which was two and a half hours away according to Google maps. This time the Garmin kept us on main roads going past Belfast then back into the Republic of Ireland. There is no international border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland--just a sign letting you know you were there.
There are several towns named Kells in Ireland, but the one in County Meath is probably the most well-known. In the tower of the Kells Abbey, the Book of Kells was stored after the monks escaped a Viking raid in their first homeland of Iona, Scotland. When we arrived in Kells, we checked in and got instructions on parking the car in the hotel's secure lot. We walked up and down the main street of town to see the historical sites. First, we headed east to St.
John's Cemetery, than backtracked past the hotel and west to Kells Round Tower and St. Columba's Church. We saw several well-preserved high crosses in Kells, and we met a couple from Canada looking for the crosses, too.
When we checked into the hotel, the desk clerk offered to make a dinner reservation in the hotel restaurant for us. She did that, and we were ready for dinner soon after we returned from our walk. Again, dinner was quite good and easy since it was in the hotel. The service was slower than in some places, but they responded kindly to every request we had.
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