So, I left you most of the way through Day 5…
The other thing I *think* we did on Day 5 was a horse uh..trek. Kathryn’s been jonesing for a horse for a while, she being the ex-rider. Me being the ex-flung into a hedge-er I maintain that my lack of horse control is simply respect for another being. Others may disagree. I’ve always actually enjoyed riding, I just…well…amn’t very good at it.
So we booked a little Trek. Kathryn was brutally honest about it, explaining she’d not ridden for years and that I was about as competent at riding a horse as I am at riding a goldfish. We turned up, met some very nice Irish people, sat on some lovely horses (one of which was, somewhat miraculously, pregnant*), and they led us for an hour. This wasn’t quite what either of us expected, and I have to admit I was somewhat startled by it…
…it took me a while to twig that that’s what they were going to do, I kept thinking ‘ah, they’re just taking us to wherever their horses are’…
Anyhow. It was very pleasant all the same, but not really what we were after :-/
Day 6 was Holy Island…
Holy Island is an abandoned monastery on… an Island. It was a dinky little boat-trip to get across to it, and very peaceful. The buildings are, again, in an arrested state of decay, some of them have been re-roofed, some not, and the gravestones have been preserved, at least some of them. In fact, some of them are fairly recent. The whole place felt very peaceful, although, that’s not how it would have felt when it was a monastery. The island would have been covered in many small wooden hut/structures and other monastery buildings. It would have teemed with pilgrims. It is certainly interesting how time changes these places.
More info on Holy Island here. We ended day 6 in an unexpected and incredible way. I’d been wanting to go for a walk, being as I am, used to wandering mountain fells. We’d looked at the map and found a bit of the ‘East Clare Way’ which appeared to go through some woodland, round a lake, and past a holy well. Kathryn wanted to see a holy well (we didn’t make it that far on Holy Island before we had to get back for the boat), we both like wandering through woods and by lakes, so it seemed rather a nice plan.
Our first attempt found us trapped on private land in woodland. It was very pretty, but we’d reached a point where fences prevented further movement, so we retraced our steps and tried again. This time things went better. We wandered through pretty woodland and found… an abandoned logging company (this isn’t the really cool bit).
Lurking in the woods were concrete slabs from the equipment once there (initially, identifying one pointy-window’d building as possibly some kind of small church, it was near a holy well, in the distance I thought they were grave stones). But in the undergrowth was this:
And a more modern block-building housed a cooker, abandoned logging detritus and paperwork relating to an operation running up until the 90s.
My theory (I like this bit of wandering round abandoned places, trying to work out why things have been left, or what happened) is that the steam equipment, of which the above shot is a part, was probably disused in the logging yard many years before they closed. When the place did finally close, all the newer equipment was sold off or scrapped out, but this heap of rusting iron was left as being essentially valueless.
Anyhow, (this is the cool bit, coming up now); we continued down the path (now it’d stopped raining), and came upon a big green pointy fence. In the distance, on the other side of the fence was this:
Now, we had no particular intention of trespassing despite my desire to go looksie, outside it, and visible from our distance were a couple of shipping containers, the building was obviously open though, and it was…tempting. We wandered along the ‘new’ path that people’d created alongside the fence which cut viciously across the path we’d been following. Suddenly the big green fence ended.
Then there were….a couple of strands of wires on poles….for a fence…
Then someone’d trampled the wires down. There was, essentially, no significant barrier. We um’d and ah’d. Kathryn reminded me of my nurse status. But standing there, in that isolated spot, it was clear that there was no activity, and no one around.
I stepped over the fence, explaining that Kathryn most definately didn’t have to come with me and I’d be quick…
About 2 minutes later we were standing in a manor house built in 1799…
It was and is one of the most utterly fantastic places I’ve explored. Very little remains, the floor only stays standing, I presume, because it’s solid vaulted brick. Apart from a bookcase / cupboard (it’s difficult to tell) built into the second floor wall I couldn’t see any original features inside. There was a small amount of plaster in one of the alcoves next to the door. The house looked out over the lake, it’s decaying frontage displayed to the world. But inside it was a feast for the eyes. Overrun by plants and vines, the place displayed a beauty it never would have had in life.
It was utterly enchanting to walk around.
As Kathryn said, it was like a children’s fairytale.
It had obviously been bricked up and reopened in the not completely distant past, and there was some evidence that someone, at some time, had been wanting to renovate it. I wanted to renovate it. Were it not in rural island, and instead in Canada I’d be trying to work out how to get the money to restore it.
In the cellar lurked a couple of very clearly abandoned bits of builder’s tables, but the plywood door to the front of the house lying on it’s back (and having clearly been lying there for some time), and the overturned and empty oil container (the drive area reeked of oil) told the story of an abortive attempt to resuscitate the home. I’m not sure it wants to be renovated.
The foundation stone lurks behind a (presumably) later addition to give a courtyard type area near one of the cellar doors, Kathryn spotted it, and photographed it. I, distressingly ran out of both batteries and space on my CF card as we were there.
So that was the real, proper abandonment. Not held in abatement by humans, just nature and it’s slow and beautiful destruction of what we have wrought.
We flew back, thanks to the AA, on Day 7. Our Ferry ticket going unused, as Rebecca is coming back tomorrow, with a delivery truck. To do so, we had to make our way across the country, and we decided to spend a few hours in Dublin.
We wandered around the city centre, popped into St Stephen’s Green, had a little wander around the Temple Bar area (and had an incredibly good tea, very good cake, at an extortionate price). And then had a generally pleasant day before a somewhat stressful drive through the edge of Dublin up to the Airport.
Dublin airport, like many an airport appears to have had it’s road system designed by someone accidentally picking up a child’s random scribbles instead of their design for a road network. Either that or someone had a little too much acid the day they designed it. On our 3rd attempt, we made it in to the car-park. Eventually we found the (very well hidden) Enterprise desk where they informed us (on the phone, because it’s unstaffed0 that we shouldn’t have parked there… but after it became apparent that since that’s what they told me to do and I wasn’t about to attempt to navigate back out of their car-park and hell-begat airport, they offered to collect it from there…
The flight back was pleasant and uneventful, and we made it back to home unscathed. :)
And that was our holiday.
Thoughts that I am thinking, the AA rock. I am well enamoured with them at the moment. So long as Rebecca comes back unscathed they’ll get an incredibly nice letter from me thanking everyone I dealt with. I am *so* pleased I spent that money on cover. The holiday would have been a disaster without them.
And an expensive disaster at that.
I have no idea how anyone in Ireland affords the living costs over there. Food is insanely expensive, fuel is expensive, eating out is extortionate – for the cost of two drinks and two cakes we could get a full meal here). Interestingly, the crafty stuff was very reasonably priced, for the most part.
It is a really beautiful country, and very interesting. It seem much more it’s own place than it did last time I visited. Not to say it wasn’t before, but in some ways, last time I visited it felt like it was defined by being not_the_UK. But now it feels more like their cultural heritage, their people, their choices are what have made them different. Perhaps that’s my perspective shifting though.
There is one road marking I’m still completely baffled by. Not that road markings mean much, while the standard of driving has move up quite dramatically from last time I was there, people still regard the road markings as useful information rather than anything to be meaningfully obeyed.
I’d like to go back and spend more time exploring Dublin, but suspect I need to earn rather a lot more to do that.
Taking the ferry is way better than flying. It takes almost as long, if you include check-in time, waiting for baggage and so on, to fly, as it does to go by ferry. Going by ferry you wander about, lay down for an uncomfortable kip, and don’t get treated like a terrorist having to remove your belt and wander around holding loose jeans up. Flying is an uncomfortable experience involving invasive behaviour on the part of the security theatre around you.
But it’s much cheaper than the ferry.
And finally, when we tour Europe, in one of the fleet, I shall be truly sure to treat all the niggling ‘in the back of my head’ things before we go.
* Apparently it’s rare for older horses to get pregnant, and this one was 23 – and they’d been told she was ‘barren’. So it was a bit of a surprise when she turned out to be pregnant. She’s going to be not doing riding school stuff for a bit – in fact she may already have stopped.