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Thursday, May 08, 2008

Day 2: Beltany Stone Circle, Kilcar, Wooooool, and Knock (picture heavy post)

Ok folks, here is the next vacation installment. Grab your coffee or smoke if you got 'em. This is a loooooooong post.

So we start off with Day 2. We ended with having our first Guinness of the trip and a lovely fish n chips dinner at a BnB in Donegal town. The next morning I almost get us killed on a teeny road so I could get a good photo of Donegal Castle. HAaaa silly tourist. So onward to the good stuff, shall we?

Two lovely people we had met along the journey so far let us in on a large stone circle that exists outside Raphoe called Beltany Stone Circle. Now the one we paid our respects to on the last trip was Grange Circle, one of the largest and complete specimens, just outside of Limerick. This one was supposedly the largest in Ireland, but not quite as complete. Some of the stones were missing by being toppled or such over time. The name Beltany is the route word to what we know as Beltaine, or the feast of May Day, May 1st. Beltaine is a major sabbat in the ancietn celt and pagan calendar and symbolizes rebirth. This is the time of year where the earth and man are reborn. All the new little ones are frolicking about in the fields.....
A view through the brush looking down at the valley below.

This is a short video of the stone circle. I say in the video that it wouldn't be Ireland without the sheep. Now I mean no disrespect by that, but what I am saying is that part of what I find so charming about Ireland are the ruins, stone circles, dolmens and so forth in these lovely fields with cows or sheep grazing nearby. It's just what adds to the lovely charm of this place and why I fall in love with it over and over again. I find the old with the new so endearing and rustic.

(It's really super-windy here so it was hard to stay steady. Please excuse the shaking)

Sheep grazing around the circle

Baby black sheep. Is this little one precious or what?

How about two? We stayed a distance away so as not to disturb the natural order of things, but these two were just as curious about us as we were with them. Mom was over in the distance yelling (BAAAAAAAA) at them to get away from the strangers.

A breathtaking view of the circle and valley below in Donegal.

More lovely Donegal as seen from the Beltany Stone Circle
I found this as we were walking out of the field. Neatly planted trees seem to give an eerie effect, don't they? It went on for what seemed like miles, all evenly spaced in any direction.
We almost got the sense of being watched here although there was no one in sight. You know when you can just feel someone watching you.
It just seemed like a place where you would find fae folk by the vivid pictures that would be painted in my mind of my childhood books. It reminds me of W.B. Yeats "The Stolen Child" where a child wonders off and is taken away by the fairies to live where there is no aging, no worries, no earthly cares.......

"Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world's more full of weeping than you can understand..." W.B. Yeats
This is a view looking straight up into the trees. Wendy said it reminded her of a giant snowflake. It does.

Wow, that was such a great place with good energy. So after leaving Raphoe we embarked on a little personal mission of mine......Kilcar.
And I made my dear friend, who was driving at the time, to maneuver some of the most dangerous twists and narrow roads than I can ever recall from our last trip. (Although Inch Bridge was a little frightening first go). After passing through Killybegs, we drove on to Kilcar. The landscape changed to rugged hillsides dotted with sheep and a slope to Donegal Bay below. And why, you ask, did I make my dear friend drive this treachery in a rental car?

Let's just say there was US dollar -crappy-to-Euro damage to be had here. I've shown you most of it. Some I can't show yet because someone hasn't gotten her gifty from me yet. I don't kiss and tell folks. She has to see it first and then I'll post. Trust me, it's cute.
Now we are on the road to Sligo, Mayo and final destination for the night, Galway City. I hear there is a market.............

Now I think this was Sligo. I have no idea what it was, but it looked magnificent. I was really far away taking this from the road, but I wanted to remember so I could look it up later. I think it was overlooking Sligo Bay. If any of my Irish friends know what this is, please leave me a comment. It's gorgeous looking from where I sat but I couldn't find it in my awesome book I have with all kinds of building listed for each county.
Yep, it's a mountain and no we aren't in the US Southwest. Doesn't it look like it belongs in a plateau in Arizona or something without the lush green grass? I think it's a beautiful backdrop. I know what mountain it is but it's escaping me at the moment and I'm too lazy to look.
At this point of just after we get on the N17, a favorite Saw Doctors song of mine also.

"I wish I was on that N17, Stone walls and the grass is green"
"Traveling with just my thoughts and dreams...." "N17" by the Saw Doctors
Next up, we make a little pit stop to a place I always wanted to visit since I was little. This is the church of Knock. This is the place where apparitions of the Blessed Mother appeared with St. John the Evangelist and St. Joseph on the gable of the church in 1879. 15 people of varied ages witnessed the apparition and it is noted by the Vatican. Pope John Paul II and St. Theresa of Calcutta have both paid homage here. I remember they used to do trips here from my church growing up.

A view inside the church. I was really super-bummed that the shops were already closed. I was really hoping to get something for my mom here. She has a lovely ivory statue of the Blessed Mother with shamrocks delicately trailing down the side of her mantle. My mom is very fond of this statue, but gifted it to me when I bought my house. She insisted I have it. I can't refuse my mother no matter what it is.
In turning around, we happened to notice this sign and in all of our sleep-deprived silliness, erupted into fits of laughter. Oh dearest, blogless Kelley, this sign's for you. *Snort* Lo-< (that would be the computer symbol Kelley uses to show me when she's ready to hang herself over our IM at work). She and I seem to use this one allllll too much lately. This is why I needed the vacation.
We finally enter Galway City and it's getting late. We find a carpark and drag an overnight bag down the street in Eyre Square. We walk into a nice BnB with a pub, but they were sold out. Next we move on to the Imperial Hotel. It was in scaffolding at the moment, but we were tired and walking inside. The interior was really nice and recently renovated. We were greeting by a "bouncer" at the door. He basically ensures that it's only those staying at the hotel in the pub part after 12AM. We dump our bags off and he guides us to the old part of the city where the pub scene is hopping. We were so hungry so he suggested and Indian or Italian restaurant. He gave us both a huge bear hug, although we assured him we'd be back to chat before his shift was over, and made our way down the cobblestone street. We ended up at the Italian restaurant, believe that or not. Hands down...I am ruined for all future Tiramisu I will every consume in my life. I swear by my Italian grandmother, that is was the best I'd ever had. YUM!
We go back and chat up our new friend thanking him profusely for the suggestion. We are then introduced to his best friend, also the hotel manager. We stand outside, I the non-smoker, among the smokers. Wendy and I found it interesting how I was now the minority in this. As we stood shielded by the vestibule in the nippy wind, we continue to chat as an intoxicated domestic disturbance involving a "gypsy" in a hot pink sequined mini-skirt ensues across the street to the sound of a man playing the accordion on the corner. Surreal.
We moved our party inside for some Guinness, exchange of information to keep in touch, and off to bed. Well maybe not just yet. We did buy a second Tiramisu to-go after eating the first one in ravenous ferocity. This time we didn't care if we ate the thing with our hands like savages. Ahhh marscopone gone is such sweet sorrow, that I may search out more next morrow...heheheh.
So we headed out in the morning to the open-air market. It was a complete sensory experience as we were assaulted by all of the wonderful smells and sounds. We ate potato stuffed chapati for breakfast off of one of the carts. Holy Knitballs batman that was TASTY. As we perused the jewelry, knitted items, and food stuffs, we came to a screeching halt at the cheese cart. BEHOLD THE POWER OF CHEESE!!!!!. Um that will be a block of Vintage Irish Cheddar and Sundried Tomato and Garlic Cheddar to go please. *GRIN*. Then we rounded back the way we came and grabbed a fresh baguette and marinated olives. That was a car lunch. Two espressos to go with an extra shot. Check.
Oh and ummmm yarn. Check. Sweater. Check. I bought a little of both in a shop I raided here.
We passed through a liquor store and cheese shop on the way out and this popped out at me in the fridge. I had to buy it for the sake of photographing it. Notice it says "Tempered over burning witches". Those of you that know me, know why I find that completely hysterical. This is also one of my most favorite movies.
So this post took the life out of me. I think it's time for a Diet Coke and bed. (caffeine free, of course).
Next up on the adventure: WE'RE GOING HOME TO LOVELY MILTOWN MALBAY!!!! This is our most-anticipated reunion of the whole trip. Don't move that dial!


At 10:53 AM, Blogger The Kelly Green Rogue said...

oh my gosh! It sounds just amazing and looks beautiful! Those lambs are soooo cute!

At 4:34 PM, Blogger Shelley said...

Holy cow!! I stayed at the Imperial too, last year when I was in Galway!! Sigh...such fond memories, especially that the locked the front door and kept the hotel bar open until 4am so we could watch the Eagles in the playoffs! They lost, but at 4am, in Galway, even I couldn't be that upset!! Thanks for bringing back great memories :)

At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Stephanie said...

Will you write me my own personal book of your Ireland travels so I can keep it and read it all the time?!?! I've never been and desperately want to go at some point. Reading about your trip has definitely amped up the urge to make it soon.

At 9:55 PM, Anonymous Blogless Kelley said...

no spoilers here eh?? I love the pictures and the commentary. I am so jealous.

At 3:53 PM, Anonymous Maria said...

Hello! I ended up on your blog serendipitously from Ravelry. Just fyi your unidentified castle is called Classiebawn Castle, in Mullaghmore, off the main Sligo-Donegal road. It was formerly owned by Lord Mountbatten, but is now in private ownership, unfortunately you can't get much closer to it than that...
The mountain is Benbulben - beautiful part of the world! I hail from the other end of Sligo county - the Mayo end, where it was bright and breezy today! Glad you enjoyed your trip!

At 4:01 PM, Anonymous Marina said...

Oh yeah - if you go back that way, Inishmurray would be a great destination for you - presuming seasickness is not a problem ;)
Marina (mrsmunch on Ravelry - excuse the typo in the last comment!)

At 12:34 PM, Blogger Knowth said...

I have posted 2 of your Sheep at Beltany images on with a link back to your blog.
Best regards from Ireland


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