Trip to Ireland September – October 2006


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Saturday 23 September

Check in Dublin Connolly station 07:15 (Gate for Platform 4) for Enterprise Service. At Belfast we join our tour and head to the famous Antrim Coast Road crossing the lovely Glens of Antrim en route to Ballycastle and the Carrick-a-rede rope bridge. Glimpse the Scottish coast on a clear day.  After lunch at Bushmills, we  visit the famous Old Bushmills Distillery sampling a "drop of the hard stuff". We continue to the stunning Giant's Causeway and finally see Dunluce Castle (photo stop only).  We return to Belfast and our train to Dublin arriving at Connolly station at 22.20.

There was a rude awakening this morning when the alarm failed to go off.  We found we could get ready in 30 minutes flat although this entailed some complicated manoeuvres in the bathroom.  As a result we arrived at Conolly Station earlier than anticipated and with time to get a (bad) latte and a sandwich before meeting Tommy, our guide for the day.  There were lots of free Ryder Cup souvenirs available including some good umbrellas and golf balls to hang around your neck which contained ponchos as well as individual ponchos.  We will keep some of these for Pat who we should see in Waterford.  The umbrellas are particularly good.

Tommy said "Go and get yourselves some free brollies" but Mary thought he said "brownies" not "brollies" and shot up straight away.  She came back with an armful of souvenir raingear and a long face.

The Enterprise was not full and we were able to get seats on the east side which gave good views of the coastline. There is an illuminated map at the end of each car showing the route and our progress.  The ride was smooth on the welded rail and the Canadian built GM locomotive handled the long train quite well.

We were about 15 minutes late because of a train in front.  We got on a coach and went via Larne to the Antrim coast road.

Glenarne - salmon fishery, abandoned limestone workings, 18th century harbour.

There was a quick stop at Carnlough where there is a limestone arch built to bring a tramway which was constructed bring limestone to build the harbour.  The guide said it was built in the late 1780s.  In fact it was built by the Glenariff Iron Ore and Harbour Company in 1782.  It was the first narrow gauge railway in Ireland but what a pity that the guides were so far off in their information.




We stopped for an hour or so at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge which was a lot of fun.  A man was stationed at the bridge who controlled movements on the bridge which was one way at a time.  With a number of people on the bridge, it developed a harmonic motion which made walking interesting.  There were two cables for hand holds and two boards to step on while there was netting all around so it would have been pretty difficult to fall through. The water was very clear and we saw a number of mullet which feed just below the surface.

Lunch was great fun.  We had pre-ordered our meal which had been phoned ahead by the coach driver to a restaurant in Bushmills.  We each had a number (7833) and when it was called we went up and picked it up and paid.  The only problem was that the numbers were called in a heavy Irish accent.  I had to think carefully before deciding that it was in fact 7833 and the non-English speakers had quite a problem.  When I went up there was confusion between our order and 7827.  In fact the orders were identical so there was no need for the confusion but we had to wait while the Irish minds got it sorted out.

We had Beef and Guinness stew with a puff pastry and champ (mashed potatoes with scallions) and a pint of Stella Artois.

Tommy said "Better that they fight like this rather than hitting each other over the headd with sticks.

The visit to the Bushmills distillery was interesting in that we actually saw where things happened.  There was a tasting at the end and we had 10 and 12 year old.  The 12 year old was smoother but both were pretty sweet.

The Bushmills Police Station was completely surrounded by a stout, high chain link fence. However, we did not see any police cars or patrols nor was the army in evidence.





From Bushmills we went to the Giants Causeway.  There was a pretty stiff walk involved to go along the cliff top, down the side of the cliff, double back to the Causeway, look at the Causeway and then climb back up the motor road in the time allotted.  The weather was fine and the views excellent.  A robin was singing in a blackberry bush.  The formation itself is quite bizarre but it has withstood the ravages of generations of tourists pretty well.

The final stop was a photo stop at Dunluce Castle where there are good views across the northern tip of Ireland towards Donegal.

The ride back to Belfast took about 1 hr 20 mins.  It was getting dark and it rained from time to time.

The journey from Belfast to Dublin was in the dark.  The trains run in push-pull mode with the locomotives on the north end. Our car had bad wheel flats which made the ride very lively at times.  A CIE maintenance man got on just as Colin was getting off.  The bad ride from the flat wheels was explained and the slack in the coupling between the last car and the locomotive was discussed in some detail.  He was not amused.

It was a long day but the two guides had things pretty well worked out so that we were able to complete the program within the time allowed.

Go to next day, Sunday 24 September