Saturday, November 11, 2017

Finbar Visits Ireland, Part Two: Beyond Dublin City

Day Trips from Dublin

Finbar had proven that he is a fine, low-maintenance travel companion, so I had no reservations about letting him tag along with our group and subsets of it on excursions further afield. He slipped easily into my travel bag which was the same color as him and provided some camouflage where toads have not gone before.
Finbar views Howth Head on Dublin Bay, our first excursion into the scenic countryside
Trim Castle, which is haunted
Finbar suns on a flat rock outside Trim Castle; clouds filled with rain begin to form above
Another toad-friendly flat rock, this time in Glendalough in County Wicklow, south of Dublin

A small group of us took an independent bus trip to Northern Ireland to check out the coastal sites and the city of Belfast where it rained and rained and rained. Finbar came out to see the Giants' Causeway, but stayed in the waterproof travel bag for Belfast.

This is some challenging terrain, but not for toads.

Finbar requested that I show this photo of the basalt columns which make up the Giants' Causeway

Galway and the West

After the writing program residency was over, newly-graduated Kathy and I took a train across the middle of Ireland to Galway. We enjoyed the train ride as the people inside were merry and the scenery outside was green and lush.

I shared my snacks with Finbar.

We had a nice table which was similar to a flat rock (and the train filled up soon after I shot this.)
We walked around Galway, shopped, and ate in some swank pubs and restaurants. There was more music than usual as our visit coincided with the Galway International Arts Festival! Our real motivation for this westward journey was to launch from our Galway hotel on day trips to Connemara, the Cliffs of Moher, and Inishmor, the largest of the Aran Islands.

Connemara is a region just south of Galway, and we toured it on a comfortable motorcoach with a very entertaining and informative driver. We cruised through the area where the movie "The Quiet Man," starring John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara, was filmed. We saw a stone bridge which figures prominently in the film.

Finbar approves of this brand of water.
We visited Kylmor Mansion which features an outstanding garden.
Finbar inspects the rhubarb...

...and the flowers

A village called Leenane

I had heard of the Cliffs of Moher, but couldn't imagine their grandeur. (Although, after the Giants' Causeway I was starting to get the feel for Irish scenery.)

Finbar approves of the castle...
...and the Cliffs
Kathy, Finbar, and I agreed that Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands, was our favorite Irish spot. We did some hiking on rocky terrain, but the views were worth it!
We took a bus to the ferry and then a minivan around the island.
The highlight of the trip (besides purchasing a green Aran cardigan) was this fort, Dun Aonghasa.
This is what we were walking on!
We stopped for lunch near Galway Bay. This is a veggie burger.
We sat on this little piece of beach to eat our ice cream, purchased at the only place on the island that seemed to sell it!
Finbar and I loved Ireland and thought it a very friendly place for humans and toads. We walked a lot, and much of it was uphill. We saw more sheep than people, and thatched roofs, and stone fences. Everywhere I pointed my camera, there was scenery...or a small brown toad. Finbar is now back on my desk at work, in the shade of a spider plant, but I'm sure would be willing to accompany me on another visit to his favorite destination in the safety of the brown travel bag.

Back to Part One, Dublin

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