Thursday, 29 October 2009

Knocknarea Cairn

Just outside of Sligo is this large limestone hill, about 350 metres high. A great place to climb up to on a nice day. On top of the plateau is a huge stone heap. The stone heap is known as a cairn. It is believed that the cairn is the grave of Queen Maeve (also known as Queen Mab in English folklore). The cairn is 10 metres high and 55 metres across. For some strange reason, we have no photos of the cairn?? not sure what happened about that. So to see this amazing cairn, click on this link!

Sligo beach

After our seaweed bath, it was time for a play on the beach!

Seaweed Bath anyone???

One of Phil's friends, Des, grew up in Sligo and sent us a list of things to do and see while we were in this part of Ireland. Des highly recommended a seaweed bath. So we found the Voya Seaweed Baths and booked a double bath room for 50 minutes.

Ireland has a long tradition of seaweed bathing which began around 300 years ago. The algae and seawater are therapeutic and helps with arthritis, aches and pains and other ailments.

The seaweed is collected fresh from the sea every morning. It is only used once, and then is sent to a farm to be used as fertiliser. The bath is filled with seaweed and hot sea water. Anyone of any age can enjoy a seaweed bath.
There is no other way to describe the initial feeling of getting into a bath full of seaweed as plunging into a bath of gloop...It is the most revolting feeling to begin with, having a film of gloop all over your body, and then strangely it becomes quite relaxing. The kids loved it and enjoyed rubbing the seaweed over their bodies, and then decided to make Phil a sea monster!
Once our time was up, we drained the baths and had to put the used seaweed into a bucket. This is what we found at the bottom of the baths.
Thankfully this little crab kept his nippers to himself!!!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

North West Coast of Ireland

Heading over the border to Ireland, we drove towards Sligo.

The coast line is stunning, and the kids enjoyed playing in the fields

Derry: The Walled City

Derry is a walled city that lies near the River Foyle. The walls were built between 1614 and 1619. They have survuved almost intact. They are about 8 metres high, and 9 metres wide. We were able to walk around the entire walls which was about 1.5kilmoteres long.

Along the walls were plenty of cannons.

There are 6 main gates into the town.

The Bogside Murals are similar to the murals in Belfast. As with the murals in Belfast, I will just provide links if you require further information to the murals.

This is "Death of Innocence"

This is "Bernadette"

This is "Operation Motorman"

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Ferry Ride

We drove around the north coast of northern Ireland to Macgilligan Point. We caught the ferry over to Greencastle. It only takes 15 minutes, and you can stay in your car as you go across. The kids thought it was great that the Sat Nav still showed us the way we needed to go!

We loved these homes with the stone fronts. Food for thought for Alexander's house designs.

Dunluce Castle

Just up the road from the Giant's Causeway is the remains of Dunluce Castle. It is built on a 30 metre cliff on the North Antrim coast. The castle was built around the 16th & 17th centuries. The MacDonnell family lived in the castle.

When the Spanish Armada ship, Girona, crashed into rocks nearby, the MacDonnells salvaged cannons from the ship to defend the castle.

Under the castle is a sea cave called the Mermaid's cave, and it is believed that there was a boat hidden here that could be used for a quick escape to Scotland or Rathlin Island.

Giant's Causeway

The highlight of the trip for Nicole was to visit the Giant's Causeway. When we had been to Ireland 2 years ago, she saw a photo of this and was determined to get to Northern Ireland to see it.

We got up early, had a lovely Irish Breakfast at our Bed & Breakfast and headed off to the north east coast of Northern Island. We were at the tea room/gift shop/information centre by 9am, and headed down the path for a kilometre walk to the Causeway.

It was magnificent, and even more incredible to climb and look at all the rocks as the tourist buses had not arrived yet, and we pretty much had the entire causeway to ourselves!

The kids enjoyed looking in the rockpools and climbing on all the rocks.

The scientific reasoning for the rocks is that a think layer of lava flowed from a valley, as the lava flow cooled and hardened, it contracted creating a pattern of hexgon shaped cracks.

The legend says the Irish Giant, Finn MacCool built the Causeway so he could cross over the sea to Scotland to fight Benandonner, the Scottish Giant.

We liked the legend story the best, and we think it is true, cause here is Finn's shoe!!

A bit further up the path is the "Organ Pipes".

We had hoped to walk further around the bay, however the weather was windy and the path had been closed off due to the worry of falling rocks. So we headed back to the tea room for morning tea. It was a great morning!