King of Excellent (according to Scaryduck)

Thursday, May 12

On seeing a lot of Ireland

So, my father finally gets the opportunity to visit us over here for the first time. TDT had to unfortunately have to go on a course for work in Dublin, so he'd only have to put up with me for a few days. I devised a plan. One day I would take him to the Atlantic coast, and show him some of the more touristy places. First of all was the obvious Cliffs of Moher, with their 700ft cliffs looking out towards the USA. It was windy, probably gusting 40mph, and the air was crisp(!). It is a tourist haven, and the tourism board wanted to cash in on it. So much so, to park was €6 each, not the car, but the number of people in it! My Dad was of the opinion "stuff it," but I insisted. It was worth it.
As you can see, the sun was out. It was the only reason people weren't turning to stone with the sheer cold.
We returned to the car and then headed south, along the coast road down to Lahinch, a small seaside town. We had the main aim of getting some nice lunch, and TDT's recommendation of a small Irish pub was bang on. The staff were chatty, the decor was interesting, and the food and beer (Pauliner, yum!) were both devine. We eventually left just after 2, for the long and windy road to Loop Head, the south western most tip of County Clare, and where the River Shannon meets the Atlantic. On the way we came across a small village called Cross. How could we not take advantage of the opportunity?
Returning to the car, we continued on to our ultimate destination. It was also windy there, but more worryingly, we could now walk to the edge of the cliff and look down. We did, and then we recoiled in terror.
It was steep. It was high. It was positively terrifying. We left and went to a pub instead, which bragged "the last pub before New York." Finally we returned home, and had been on the road for 7 hours. You can see the entire route here. I will recommend it, but be ready for a lot of potholed and bumpy roads, especially after Kilkee.
Then, yesterday, we decided to go on a lot shorter journey, inland to Lough Derg. It's a large lake, on the River Shannon, and proclaims itself "Ireland's pleasure lake." It would have been, if we could drive along the side of it. It has a loop road around it, but most of the time you can be two or three miles away from the water's edge. The highlight was a viewpoint near the bottom of the lake, with a wonderful view. I have taken enough images to make a wide angled panorama, but I need to make it, so here's one of those images.
We returned in the gorgeous sunshine to a town called Ballina, overlooking the now narrower River at the bottom of the lake, and had a lovely lunch, before again returning home. Ironically, look at this route on the map (here) and it looks a lot shorter. My father's days of driving hundreds of miles have long gone, so I thought this was a nice short drive and let him volunteer to drive. Incredibly, it's nearly the same distance, both totalling about 200km (or 125 miles in old money). He looked positively worn out by the time we got home.
He'll be on the plane home as I type this. The last time I saw him was in January 2010, 16 months ago. I have to admit I do miss him when I don't see him. Years of not seeing him for months on end has meant that I don't let it get to me, but when we do part, it is upsetting. Last time he saw me, I was with TDT for 5 months, John was with me, and I lived in Wales. Now, I'm engaged, John's living with his Mum, and I'm in Ireland and unemployed. How life has changed. Maybe next time I'll be a millionaire, it might be in Florida we meet, or there might be world peace. We can live in hope.