Slieve League and Silver Strand

Co Donegal, Ireland- When I got news that my baby sister was headed to Ireland to kick off her Eurotrip Birthday Party… I had a panic attack.  Where will we go, what will we see, just how many ounces of Instagram gold will.she.mine.

I spoke with my brother who just welcomed his own baby girl into this magnificent world and he said, “you know you’re going to have to do everything she says, go everywhere she wants and be happy about it.”  I am glad he understands the female psyche.  As she runs on rad daydreams and DMs from her hometown squad I knew the pressure was on.

It was this big.

Catching up on GirlTalk

IMG_1443

She had fucking brilliant weather.  So I didn’t have to do what I normally do when people visit me in Ireland and it rains, which is, “Pssttt! you are in Ireland.” As far as viewing nature’s bounty, the possibilities are endless in one of Europe’s most beautiful countries, rain or shine.  My sister sent me “The Plan” in a Whatsapp a few weeks before her arrival and it goes as follows.  See the Donegal Mountains (easy from ma backyard bishes!!) No really, but we ventured up to Slieve League (Sliabh Liag) for a closer look.

IMG_1478

Number 2! Climb Benbulben.  I climbed the bad boy a few weeks before, in preparation of her demands with the Sligo Leitrim Mountain Rescue Team.  Follow me! I know the way AND I know who to call when my lungs collapse due to a profuse cigarette smoking habit.  Nummer drie, Giant’s Causeway– holy shit, houses of the holy, hold my half-moon press, this had a lot of anticipation riding on it.  And, finally visit Enniskillen Castle aka McGuire’s Castle to reclaim our lands!

The Fiesta was loaded up.  My pack with peanuts and dark chocolate, a thermos of tea and dear sweet baby sister brought all of my CDs…from highschool.  Yes, Dave Matthews Band and Haley’s Mega Mix 3000 on repeat.  From the looks of it I had really mastered Napster and those songs took me right back…to listening to Neil Young and eating lunch alone while everyone else was (insert rude backstabbing comment.)  Those were the days!

Here we are at the highest sea cliffs in Europe.

IMG-20170816-WA0009.jpg

So happy though, seriously, that she came to visit the Northwest of Ireland which is truly astonishing, wild and perfect for two crazy sisters that couldn’t be more different (except that we both like the XX).


We stopped for a breather and a Smithwick’s at the Rusty Mackerel where the bartender promptly poo-pooed our next stop: Giant’s Causeway.  “It is underwhelming” he informed, go to Silver Strand.  We gulped the rest of our beer and started on an improptu adventure to…Hawaii.

IMG_1492

Seriously, no filter, just my awesome photog skiilz and again, the amazing weather.  Really, who would have guessed this was Ireland?  One hundred and seventy one steps down to the beach and three decades worth of anxiety blown away in this easy, breezy, fucking beautiful, my sister- the cover girl.

It was actually quite crowded for a typical stop along the Wild Atlantic Way.  We weren’t the only ones cashing in on the nice weather.

Cheers to Emily and Happy Birthday! I hope you cherish your last years in your 20s and see that your 30s might not be so bad.  That will be it for sunshine, until next year people! Ta!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Big Mama Had Twins

Co Sligo, Ireland- The cows are calvin’ and the farmers are balin’ for July in Agharrow.  I have harvested the new potatoes and my neighbors described them as “little flour balls”  (the Irish love a floury potato) so this is a good sign.  I will definitely plant them in abundance next year.

Gerry, the farmer had a big smile after I congratulated him on the birth of his twin calves!  A boy and a girl.  Walking the dogs down the lane is especially heartwarming as I spot the babes frolicking in the field.

IMG_0609.JPG

Life in rural Ireland moves much slower than what I am used to.  People are rarely in a rush, passing the time, enjoying the views.

IMG_0618

IMG_0851.JPG

I am still waiting for my nursing reg with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.  I had a slight delay when my employer’s reference never made it to Ireland.  In the meantime I am volunteering at a nursing home.  This week we welcomed a choir from Mansfield, Texas.  I will admit it was charming to see a hoard of All Americans!  The residents certainly enjoyed their uplifting song!

IMG_0774

I am getting pumped for more family to visit Sligo and to share the views with my sweet sister.  Fingers-crossed for clear skies!

 

 

 

First Point- Wild Atlantic Way

Co Donegal, Ireland- Malin Point, the most northerly point of the Ireland, marks the beginning of the Wild Atlantic Way.  In the northwest region of the country and rural Ireland in general it is extremely dark, unpolluted and perfect for star gazing on a clear night.  Officially launched in 2014, the Wild Atlantic Way is a 1700 mile (2750 km) stretch of interconnected roadways that is as distinct as it is transcendental.

IMG_0015If you find yourself traveling down the winding lanes of the Wild Atlantic Way do yourself a favor and turn off the GPS.  The route is well marked, besides, getting lost is a hallmark of any great adventure.

 

 

I walked along the marble pathways to marvel at the crashing waves along the jagged cliffs.  In the distance, the sandy beach of Five Finger Strand surrounded me and the green countryside was sprinkled with sheep.  Only a few people at this point, a less crowded vista know as Bamba’s Crown.

IMG_0017

Aurora sightings are most prevalent during the months of September/October and March/April.  You can follow @Aurora_ireland on twitter for up to date Aurora alerts, sightings and browse some sweet pics taken along the Wild Atlantic Way.

IMG_0001

I will continue to make my way along the Wild Atlantic Way.  Happy travels!

IMG_0008

 

Maugherow and the Secret Beach

Co Sligo, Ireland- During the week we let the canines run on the somewhat uninhabited Lissadell Beach. And. they. LOVE IT.  Lately we have been wondering what is further along the way and today we took an expedition.  We found Maugherow Beach, and that’s not all!  Loads of people traveling there to play with their kids, BBQ, paint, camp and enjoy the abnormally sunny day in May.

IMG_8747Have you ever arrived in a new place, set out to explore, not really knowing where the hell you are?  We came to Maugherow Beach one day back in November after checking out the cottage by the sea that we now call home.  I had no idea it was the same place, not a “new” place at all.

With my wee caption you get a sense of just how enamored I was with this area when we first arrived. We were lost in exploration,  the winter fog totally clouded Benbulben Mountain and it was so muddy we barely made it back to Kiltyclogher for the night.   Now, a season later, I didn’t even recognize the place.  So cool and still enamored BTW!

IMG_8734

IMG_8701

The people here were an absolute delight.  As we walked through the grassy dunes, one artist with her palette and paints scattered, said to the other, “I am getting the horizon, plane and birdseye views.”  The other responded, “Yeah I can see, like, all the perspectives in one.”  If you can imagine.  I smiled with complete joy knowing that here, in this place, middle aged women were getting together to make art and not give a feck! (That’s Irish for fuck, for instance on the radio or in a professional setting).

 

Rolfe was able to play fetch with all the distractions- children, other mutts, hotdogs.  He is seven years old and still learning.  In this video my voice gets so high when he goes so far into the ocean.  I was so excited and scared! Such a nervous nancy I am!  Good craic, for sure!

We had such an awesome day and I am beginning to think the Irish rain is a myth.  It has been straight-up sunshine for a week.

IMG_8688

Note for travelers, I am just calling this Maugherow Beach, I’m just calling it that because it is otherwise unnamed by signposts. If you go through Carney Village, pass Lissadell on to Maugherow and take a left where a sign sits pointing right to Maugherow Church, you will arrive at this sweet spot.  There are also some old ruins that make a nice backdrop on an early winter morning!

IMG_8674

Hope you enjoyed my post! Until next time!

Hillwalkin’ and Cave Spottin’

Co Sligo, Ireland- Michael Quirke, a local storyteller and wood carver keeps the myths of this area alive for anyone willing to listen.  One day while strolling around town, I was lured into his shop by the hand carved figures and ornate storyboards displayed in the window. He began with a legend about two ill-fated lovers.  Diarmuid and Grainne were said to have eloped across Ireland, and their final resting place, a cave- high up on the back of the Dartry Mountains.  Now that the weather is warming up, I decided to check out the magic of this mythical mecca.

IMG_8407

Megaliths are sprinkled about, you can barely see the cave in the cliff behind me on the right.

Walking the lane of Gleniff Horseshoe, looking up at the cave, I imagined how tempting it would be to create a good story from this unique geographical feature.  Once you notice it, you can’t stop peering up at it.  It’s watching you, you’re watching it.  With something more like a soul, this cave sends out some serious vibes.

IMG_8466.JPGApparently before 2015 you could go up in the cave, which would have been amazeballs.  But maybe ruin the magic for me and/or I could fall to my death.IMG_8442The walk is about 6 miles in total.  Today was rather windy and overcast but still worth the fresh air and mountain views.  On a clear day you can see the Donegal Mountains, Mullaghmore and the Classiebawn Castle.  One thing I love about this area of Ireland is that it is underpopulated.  Prepare for a quiet roam with old ruins and sheep grazing.

IMG_8412

Found the shire!

IMG_8474

Super softy

IMG_8428

Geotrees

Until next time!

 

 

Fire in the hole!

Ballinfull, Co Sligo, Ireland- Just days after I got the nerve to post about living in the van, the thing spontaneously combusts!  Rolfe and I were headed to town, I cranked the engine and it wouldn’t turn over.  I tried again and voila! it started, with an extra, special plume of smoke coming from the engine.

I freaked, hopped out of the van,  popped the bonnet to open her up and there was a small fire ablazin’.  Sweet!  I tried to blow it out. (stop laughing)  It persisted so I grabbed Rolfe and ran frantically around the other side of the house, expecting the whole thing to blow.  I spun around and round like a dreidel, dreidel in the meantime calling Molly, my landlady-neighbor to tell her, “The van is on fire!”  Still smoking, I secured Rolfe and decided to try harder to save the van.b76344cd-1853-4dff-a27d-64cf5fe03b2b-4986-00000b04efab6e29.png

I grabbed a hoodie that was still damp, drying on the line to extinguish the fire. Moments later, Gary (Molly’s husband of 41 years) arrived to investigate.  The electrical around the battery was completely singed.

Is this a sign telling me to give up my journey as a van woman? Naw, I think it means fix her up, get a sub-woofer.

A weekend without wheels in rural Ireland was great! Until it wasn’t.  The truth is without my veg going or the hens laying, food was scarce.  We took turns riding the bike into the village, determined to keep the coffee and ciggy stockpile fierce.

IMG_8081

I told Gary I’d look for a car on Done Deal (Irish Craigslist) and done make me a deal!  He said, “Now, I’m not telling you what to do but…” advised me to go down the lane to the neighborhood garage.  There I was greeted by two stately German Shepherds, and a genuine Irishman.  Genuine in the sense that he says ‘fuckin’ every fifth word and has a heart of gold.

Ladies and gents I am the proud owner of a 2003 Ford Fiesta and it is exactly like driving a go cart.  The car guy’s best advice was to give meself! plenty of time to get to town.  I thought he meant this as a precaution because I’d be wanting to turn into on-coming traffic, seated on the opposite side than what I am used to.  Or, I would have to get used to the clutch, but no, it’s because, it literally. takes. longer.  I feel so cute driving it like somehow I am petite. It has a sunroof, but it’s not electric.  There is a hook that I thought was for dry cleaning, or something but it is actually a hand crank which would be life saving in an unexpected underwater event.

I am thoroughly impressed with the Irish hospitality.  It is underpopulated and they make every effort to help you out, make you feel welcome and part of their lush rural haven.  Google actually gives hitch-hiking time travel estimates.  “Eye?” “Eye!” They seem to take care of one another, no matter where ye come from.

IMG_7865

 

 

 

Makin’ it to Mullaghmore

Co Sligo, Ireland- Benbulbin in the back, rocky cliffs in the front, Mullaghmore or An Mullach Mór is Irish for “The Great Summit” and a couple of villages away.  Whenever I meet a local, the conversation usually reveals two things 1) I am not Irish 2) I have not been to Mullaghmore.  With a free day and some curiosity Rolfe and I hopped in the van destined for this famed surfer’s peninsula.

IMG_7908

My iPhone retired itself a while ago, so for navigation I usually jot down the directions and then forget them at home.  Out here, the rural roads tend to be too tiny for two cars to fit fairly, therefore it’s always a game of who has the nicer car.  Generally, I am the one who has to go off-roading.  The best advice I can give for riding around these parts is if the road seems like somebody’s muddy driveway, it’s probably your best bet.

IMG_7875

The waves were dwarfed with no surfers in sight.  I admit, I was a bit nervous, alone, well besides Rolfe, with the wind and wide open ocean below the cliffs.  I was mesmerized for a moment, like the nihilist in me saying “just do it, jump in there, go back to the sea!! let it take you!! Life in meaninglesssssssss!”

I did spot one soul up on the cliffs. I passed him later by the beach, umbrella down, enjoying a little ray of sunshine.  In Ireland it’s always worth it to go out even if the weather seems crummy.

I took Rolfe down to the sandy shoreline.  There were a few signs posted that cattle could be grazing…on the beach.  I kept Rolfe on lead while investigating.  We arrived with windy rain and left the place in the sunshine, typical for Ireland.

IMG_7917We got our daily dose of adorable on the way home.  The new life roaming around this time of year is the epitome of cute.  They use a paint by number system to match the lambs with their mothers.  This kind of takes away from the ambiance of sheep sightings not to mention that this little guy will probably be ordered for dinner sometime soon.  My heart is still warmed by their sweet existence.

IMG_7924

I will return to Mullaghmore to see the Classiebawn Castle and maybe some rad wave BOMBS over next winter.  But for a first run, it was worth the go.