Craig Collins' Portfolio R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > Dublin, Giant's Causeway, the West of Ireland

2013, Dublin, Giant's Causeway, the West of Ireland
© R. Craig Collins, 2013

To Our Spring Break Trip to Ireland (our 4th trip to Ireland, 2014, Dublin, Trim Castle, Powerscourt, just Craig and Susann)

Our Christmas Trip to Ireland (our 3rd trip to Ireland... 2011 and 2007 ) Other Domestic and International trips listed here

Plan at a glance: (details follow, with lots of pics, so may be slow to load)

Wednesday, December 25
Austin to JFK, JFK to Dublin

Thursday, December 26
Arrive Dublin, check into the Donnybrook Hall B&B, explore Museum of Decorative Arts

Friday, December 27
Tour to the North: the Giant's Causeway, Belfast

Saturday, December 28
Train to Limerick, bus to the West: Galway, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle

Sunday, December 29
Jameson Distillery tour, explore Dublin (National Gallery, Natural History museums)
See Wicked

Monday, December 30
Guinness Storehouse tour, explore Dublin

Tuesday, December 31
Dublin to JFK, JKF to Austin

Map of Ireland

Dublin Map

Dublin Map

Trip Details

Tuesday, Contact Extreme Ireland, 31022656; Contact Railtours Ireland ,353 1 856 0045

Wednesday, December 25
Austin to JFK, JFK to Dublin
7:00 am leave for Austin
8:00 am Leave car at Fast Park and Relax, Austin

Susann got a pass and didn't go through the nasty security.
10:20 am American Airlines #209 (APVNAY) Austin to JFK
Seats : 28D , 28E , 27D , 28F
Boarding Passes
2:55 pm Arrive JFK
Had to leave secure area to get to Terminal 5, and re-check in with Aer Lingus
Had pizza and calzones during the layover.
5:30 Aer Lingus #104 (2C7HJ6) JFK to Dublin
Seats: 39C, 40C, 38E, 38F
Boarding Passes

Thursday, December 26
Arrive Dublin, check into the Donnybrook Hall B&B, explore Dublin
Sun Transfers (SUNTR_BZ5267) to Donnybrook Hall, Shay's Taxi had kept track of the flight and was there to meet us, early as it was.
When we arrived at the B&B, no one was about, so Shay called the B& B, and Terry said he would come down to let us in.
6:30 am, Donnybrook Hall (Booking 820605471)
We go in SO early, but Terry (our host) was more than gracious, and did everything he could to make us comfortable until a room was available.

Donnybrook Hall
We chilled in the lounge until 9:00, and walked up Morehampton until we got to St. Stephen's green, then walked over to Trinity College... about 3 km total, occasionally slipping on ice.

We crossed over to Grafton Street, and walked toward the Liffey looking for breakfast, and as most every place was still closed on this St. Stephen's Day, we settled for toasties at McDonald's for € 10. Store's were starting to open, but we had been up more than a day, so Back to Nassau Street just south of Trinity College, and rode the 46A bus back to Donnybrook.
Bus Pass

10:15 We arrived, and one of the staff Precious had her little baby 'helping' get the rooms ready.
Terry arranged for a taxi for Friday and Saturday to get us to our tour departures, as the bus did not run that early.
We checked into room 2 at the top of the stairs, which was actually divided into two spaces,
each with two beds and a wardrobe, plus a nice bath with a shower by the entry.

The girl's room over looked the glass conservatory that was behind the breakfast dining room.
Donnybrook Hall 2 Donnybrook Hall 2
We all crashed for a bit to recharge our batteries, then took bus 145 to Heuston Rail station,
and walked over the Liffey to the old Collins Barracks, now the home of
the National Museum of Ireland's Museum of Decorative Arts and History. A huge drab affair on the outside, it was a treasure within.
They had reconstructed rooms with period furnishings, clothing from across the centuries, a display by female design pioneer Eileen Gray,
items from storage including life preservers from the Lusitania and a Chinese taxi to be carried by four, a display of Irish Silver,
1000 years of Irish coins and currency, the Albert Binder collection, and the entire national collections of glass, silver, pewter, brass,
enamel and Asian applied arts.
Collins Barracks Museum of Decorative Arts
Museum of Decorative Arts Museum of Decorative Arts Museum of Decorative Arts

The sun sets early in this part of the world, so we wandered past several bus stops until we found the 145 bus stop, and headed back to Donnybrook.
Around the corner from the hotel was an Eddie Rocket's 50's style diner,
where we had 'interesting' Irish style slider burgers, chicken tenders, Fanta, and fries. €27.
Eddie Rocket's
We stopped at the Tesco on the corner for cookies and chips to use on our long trip the next day. € 4.73

10:00pm We watched a bit of TV, but we were all tired, and retired, but the wind was really up, and the rain just kept coming.

Friday, December 27
Plan: Tour to the North: the Giant's Causeway, Belfast (Viator 54927996/ Extreme Ireland)’s-causeway-tour/p9/
Giant's Causeway Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge Belfast

4:00 am, up. Heard on the news that the winds on the coast had hit 109 mph as a massive storm was rocking Ireland and England...
40 mph winds were predicted on the north coast. Had our breakfast snacks, and bundled up.
6:00 am Taxi to St. Andrew's Tourist Center, Suffolk Street €10
There were 8 passengers in Robbie's bus, a Canadian mother and daughter (both red heads), and a Spanish couple.

6:30am Small text in italics is from tour site.
"Departure takes place outside the old stone church located off of Suffolk Street"
Tourist Office, Suffolk Street
"From there, the bus will head north out of Dublin city towards Belfast which consists of an incredibly scenic route from Larne on the celebrated Causeway coastal road."

8:15 am We stopped near in Northern Ireland, UL, near Belfast for snacks, £5, then in Larne, where we shared a Bacon Bap for £5.
Bap is a big flour bread almost like a bun, not to be confused with Baa bread.
Larne, Northern Ireland.

12:20 pm "Next, we will stop for a short while to breathe in the fresh air while having an energizing stroll around the area with plenty of ideal photo opportunities. Afterwards, we will head towards the renowned Giants Causeway. From there we will drive through the charming village of Ballintoy as well as having the surreal opportunity of seeing spectacular views over Whiteparks Bay and Portbradden. Once we arrive at the Causeway, we highly suggest strolling up to the very peak of the cliffs so that you’re able to enjoy a panoramic view of the causeway then descend down to the point referred to as the “Organ” for which you will be highly impressed by this wondrous sight.
2:00 pm Once you’ve finished with lunch, we’ll head off towards the famous “Carrick-a-Rede” rope bridge which is managed by the National Trust. In order to show our personal support for this conservational charity, we include the price of the bridge-tour within the overall budget of our packaged deal. Also, you may notice some of the native wildlife along the way as you prepare for the 20 minute descend up to the bridge for your courageous “leap of faith”. As you fearlessly walk across, you will genuinely notice the breathtaking views looking out towards the Rathlin Island’s and Mull of Kintyre in Scotland.

We actually tackled the day in a different order, stopping next at the Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge...
It was a 2/3 mile slog up and down slippery steps and long ramps to get to the bridge which used to be used by fisherman.
Susann and Diane crossed, but Gracie and I weren't able to, because of the wind.
Carrick-a-red Carrick-a-Rede
Carrick-a-Rede Carrick-a-Rede

From here we went to "Chillie McCool's", a small diner with a big sliding glass door where we could see the rain now hitting;
we shared Guinness stew, Fish and Chips, and picked up a few cards, etc. £21.80
Finn McCool is one of the two mythological giant's supposedly responsible for the Giant's Causeway,
a natural basalt formation of tightly packed hexagonal columns.

From Wikipedia: According to legend, the columns are the remains of a causeway built by a giant. The story goes that the Irish giant Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool) was challenged to a fight by the Scottish giant Benandonner. Fionn accepted the challenge and built the causeway across the North Channel so that the two giants could meet. In one version of the story, Fionn defeats Benandonner. In another, Fionn hides from Benandonner when he realises that his foe is much bigger than him. Fionn's wife, Oonagh, disguises Fionn as a baby and tucks him in a cradle. When Benandonner sees the size of the 'baby', he reckons that its father, Fionn, must be a giant among giants. He flees back to Scotland in fright, destroying the causeway behind him so that Fionn could not follow. Across the sea, there are identical basalt columns (a part of the same ancient lava flow) at Fingal's Cave on the Scottish isle of Staffa, and it is possible that the story was influenced by this.

We paid the £8 to ride the Belfast city bus from the visitor center to the Giant's Causeway, as the wind and rain were roaring now.
I wish the pictures could impress upon you the power of the wind and waves.
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway

Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway
On our way back to the bus point, a double, full arc rainbow appeared.
Giant's Causeway Giant's Causeway rainbow
Map of the Giant's Causeway area

After the city bus ride, it was not quite time for our tour bus to return. So we headed to the visitor center, which was build into the hill.
While the Causeway itself was free (after the bus ride), the visitor center was not, so we sough shelter in a British phone booth, and marveled at the greenery.

Giant's Causeway Visitor Center Giant's Causeway Visitor Center
Giant's Causeway Phone Booth Giant's Causeway area

3:00 pm "Next, we will jump aboard the bus once again to head towards the grand city of Belfast. Our tour will be setup as a roundabout route so that you’re able to capture a full-length picture of the praised about Dunluce Castle, the most romantic castle in all of Ireland which was home to the McDonnell Clan for many years. Not to mention, that the Dunluce Castle has been referred to as the primary inspiration for CS Lewis’s fictional castle “Clair Paravel” which was established in her popular series, “The Chronicles of Narnia”. In addition, we’ll be passing through the spirited town of Bushmills where Ireland’s very first hydro power plant was originally built as well as being the proud makers of a wonderful brand of whiskey!"

We were trying to get close to Dunlace Castle when the skies just opened up... so I had to put up the camera before I got some good shots...
Dunlace Castle Dunlace Castle
Thank goodness I got some cards so you can see what we saw, plus what the area would look like on a clear day.

Carrick-a-rede, Giant's Causeway, Dunlace Castel

On the way back, we passed Bushmill's Distillery.

5:00pm Once we’ve arrived at the notable city of Belfast, you’ll be allotted an hour or so to go about sightseeing at your own convenience. We recommend visiting the main shopping district for souvenirs, the historic Titanic Quarter and of course the Belfast City Hall. Afterwards, we’ll finish up our fun filled adventure by making our way back to Dublin all within a days’ time.

We did not have much time in Belfast, and it was dark... but as we had visited Belfast before,
we were content to do a little shopping near the City Hall, which was lit in changing colors.. £2 for a new hat for Susann, her old was was shredded by the wind.
Belfast Belfast

7:30pm Arrive back in Dublin, and walked around Grafton Street, and the Molly Malone statute of her selling Cockells, and Mussels.
Molly Malone, Dublin

One of the Spar stores had a Tim Horton inside, so we had chicken baguettes and cookies, €12.
Rode the bus back to Donnybrook, and grabbed some snacks for the next day at Tesco. €7.85
Precious let us know that they had packed some Irish Bacon Baps and Oranges for us to take on the long train trip the next day.

Saturday, December 28
Train to Limerick, bus to the West: Galway, the Burren, Cliffs of Moher, Bunratty Castle (Viator 54927973/Railtours Ireland)

Cliffs of Moher Bunratty

4:00 am Up
6:00 am Taxi to Heuston Station €17.70
6:30 am arrive Customer Service Desk; Railtours Ireland Representatives were waiting at the Customer Service Desk with travel pack (itinerary and tickets).
They were wearing bright yellow jackets so it was easy to locate them.
Railtours Ireland Packet
7:00 Had to change trains, due to mechanical problem. While the trademark is First Class!,
we traveled in a regular car reserved for about 5 different tours that branched out as we went.

7:20 am Depart for Limerick; breakfast trolley was slow getting to our car, but we enjoyed our packed breakfast.
Changed trains at Limerick Junction, where Norman, our 75+ year old toothless guide began to entertain us;
we passed ruined castles and had great views of the clouds streaming past the hills as the sun rose.
Near Limerick Junction On the Train

We had a very short tour of the treaty city, Limerick, the setting for Frank McCourt’s best-selling memoir Angela's Ashes, passing King John's Castle.
We were told that Limerick had 25% unemployment, and had not recovered as well as other areas of Ireland.
Limerick King Goerge's Castle

The tour then headed north to Bunratty Castle and Folk Village. Built in 1425 it was restored in 1954 to its former medieval splendor and now contains mainly 15th and 16th century furnishings, tapestries, and works of art which capture the mood of those times.

Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle
Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle Dungeon
Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle

Bunratty Castle Bunratty Castle Thatched roof, fake snow

Bunratty Castle

The folk park was pretty empty, but there were a lot of neat buildings, and animals, including two huge wolfhounds.
Bought some cards in the shop, then we headed to Doolin and O'Connor's Pub for lunch.

Doolin. O'Connor's Pub Doolin. O'Connor's Pub
Doolin. O'Connor's Pub Doolin. O'Connor's Pub
The €27.40 Bangers and Mash, Guinness stew, and soups...

The view outside the pub was pure Ireland.
Doolin. across from O'Connor's Pub

As we got to the top of the hill, the wild Atlantic was in a fury.
We drove to the Ferry stop just to see the waves, and preview the 700 foot Cliffs of Moher .

We walked past the visitor center that was built into the cliffs like a Hobbit hole, toward O'Brien's Tower. The waves were breaking so hard, we could feel the spray as sleet at the top of the 700 foot cliffs... and the rain was moving in...
but it was just incredible. Again, the pictures do no justice to the wind, the waves, and the total experience.
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

Cliffs of Moher

We headed back down to the Hobbit hole like Visitor's center, and got some cards, etc. €5.50
Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center Cliffs of Moher Visitor Center

They had great exhibits, including a panorama movie of the cliffs, plus info on Irish family names. A neat park was outside which would
be great for a picnic during the summer.
Collins family name Cliffs of Moher stature

Cliffs of Moher

We then headed to the Burren's lunar landscape; from Wikipedia:
"The Burren is a karst-landscape region. Karst topography is a geological formation shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock. The region measures approximately 250 square kilometres and is enclosed roughly within the circle made by the villages Ballyvaughan, Kinvara, Tubber, Corofin, Kilfenora and Lisdoonvarna. It is bounded by the Atlantic and Galway Bay on the west and north, respectively. The rolling hills of Burren are composed of limestone pavements with criss-crossing cracks known as "grikes", leaving isolated rocks called "clints". The region supports arctic, Mediterranean and alpine plants side-by-side, due to the unusual environment. The limestones, which date from the Visean stage of the Lower Carboniferous, formed as sediments in a tropical sea approximately 350 million years ago. The strata contain fossil corals, crinoids, sea urchins and ammonites.

Glaciation during the Quaternary period facilitated greater denudation. The result is that the Burren is one of the finest examples of a glacio-karst landscape in the world."

Burren Burren Burren
Burren Burren Code

We had a nice scenic drive along the shores of Galway Bay, passing a Galway Hooker, or fishing boat. We had toasties and pie for dinner at the GBC bakery in Galway,
but at this point I either had a raging flu or food poisoning. €17.80

We walked the main square of Galway, then joined the Dublin-bound train, arriving at Dublin Heuston Station at 9:45pm
Along the way, Norman was sharing Bushmill's with anyone who would take him up on the offer.
Norman on the train to Dublin
We grabbed the 145 bus from Heuston station to Donnybrook, and crashed.

Sunday, December 29
6:00 We slept in a bit
8:00 Downstairs for a great breakfast from Terry... Eggs Benedict made with Bap instead of English Muffin, Irish soda bread, melon, juice, coffee and tea.

Donnybrook breadfast room Donnybrook Conservatory
9:12 am Took the 145 Bus to Victoria Quay, then walked to the Jameson Distillery.
Bus Stop
10:00 am Jameson Distillery tour (Jameson 31022656)

Jameson Jameson Distillery
Jameson Distillery Jameson Distillery
Jameson Distillery Jameson Distillery

We started with a great movie on Jameson and what the Distillery looked like in the 1800s, and then went to recreations of all the steps in the process.
Jameson roasts his barley with smokeless sources, unlike the Scots who use smokey peat. Jameson also triple distilled his whiskey, and aged it in
'used' sherry, port, and bourbon casks for between 3 and 12 years. We finished with a tasting, and in ginger ale, it is not bad...
though the purists prefer it neat, or with a 'drop' of water. In the last room, a visitor from Scotland, Fiona, said "God help me, I like the Jameson better..."

Jameson Distillery Jameson Distillery
Jameson Distillery Jameson Distillery
Jameson Distillery

From here we took the bus back to the City Center, and went to the National Gallery.
Nation Gallery of Ireland National Gallery of Ireland
National Gallery of Ireland National Gallery of Ireland

We ate Croissant, wraps, and cake for lunch at Insomnia, €15.95

We then headed to the Museum of Natural History, with its fossils, bones, and stuffed animals.
Natrual History Museum

After a little trip to the Tourist Center area (Suffolk, Grafton),
Suffolk Street, Dublin
we then took the long walk to the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, near the Grand Canal.
We had upscale pizza at the upscale H Bistro, €24.00.
Outside the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, they had a wonderful light display that flashed red against the green... the reflection in the canal was great.
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

See Wicked (TM 29-53625/UK2)
Doors 6:30 pm, Show 7:30 pm
Upper Circle, J19-J22
While our seats were on the last row, it was a great show. Below is the closed curtain, but you can see the dragon.
Bord Gáis Energy Theatre

After the show, taxi back to Donnybrook. €11.25

Monday, December 30

6:30 am, slept in a little later.
8:15 am French toast, melon juice, coffee, and tea for breakfast. And Irish bacon was part of every breakfast, and Eric was incredibly attentive.
9:30 am, took the 145 bus to Victoria Quay, then walked around the huge Guinness facility to get to the Storehouse.

Guiness Guinness

Guinness Storehouse tour (Viator 54928025)

We thought this would be a quick little tour, but it took us 4 hours to really take it in. In the middle of the working brewery, the set up the old storehouse
to show you the whole process. In 1709, Arthur signed a 9000 year lease at St. James gate, due to the water supply from the Wicklow mountains.
The lease is encased in a glass safe, in the floor.
Guiness lease Guiness lease

The storehouse is 7 floors, with barley, hops, and water exhibits on the first floor.
Guinness Guinness
Guinness Guinness

We learned how it is made from a virtual brewmaster, and learned how to trick it, from perfectly pours 3 oz cups.
We saw the famous harp that is their logo, that you could play virtually,
Guinness and old ads that we could get into.
Guinness Guinness

There were several eateries, but we went up to the top for a great view in the 360 degree circular Gravity bar. But it was full, so we went down a few floors to enjoy our Pints.
Guinness Guinness

Pretty good view from here, too. That's Four Courts in the left picture, in the distance.
Guinness Guinness

We went down another floor or two, and had lunch... Gracie again with Guinness Stew, the girls had quiche, and I was up to some corned beef. €26.05

3:00 pm Took the 37 bus to Phoenix Park, the largest park in Europe.
Phoenix Park

We walked to Farleigh, but didn't get to do it justice... too big and not enough time.

Farleigh, an estate of 78 acres situated to the north-west of Dublin's Phoenix Park, was purchased from the Guinness family by the Irish Government. The house has been carefully refurbished by the Office of Public Works as the premier accommodation for visiting dignitaries and guests of the nation, for high level Government meetings, and for public enjoyment.

Originally a small Georgian house built in the late 18th century, Farleigh was purchased by Edward Cecil Guinness (1847-1927). A great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, founder of the eponymous brewery, Edward Cecil became the first Earl of Iveagh in 1919. The first major building programme was undertaken in 1881-84 to designs by Irish architect James Franklin Fuller (1832-1925), who extended the House to the west, refurbished the existing house, and added a third storey. In 1896 the Ballroom wing was added, designed by the Scottish architect William Young (1843-1900).

With the addition of a new Conservatory adjoining the Ballroom in 1901, increased planting of broadleaves and exotics in the gardens, Farleigh had, by the early years of the 20th century, all the requisites for gracious living and stylish entertainment. Its great charm lies in the eclecticism of its interior decoration ranging from the classical style to Jacobean, Louis XV, Louis XVI and Georgian.

So back to the 37 bus, and over to the Post Office.
It was now time to start being tourists.
Diane in Dublin

After getting our gifts, we walked past Trinity College, which was being prepped for New Years eve... they were projecting images on the college walls, neat.
Trinity College at New Year

We then walked up past Grafton street, up to O'Connell, with the decorated stores, and the tree by the Spire and old General Post Office (GPO), famous for the 1916 uprising.

Grafton Street O'Connell
O'Connell O'Connell

We walked down one of the shopping streets for a bit, then headed for the Liffey.
We encountered TP Smith, and decided to splurge on dinner... prawns, bangers and mash, cajun chicken, and fajitas, Irish style.
For dessert we had Sticky Toffee Pudding, Profiteroles, Bailey's Cheesecake, and Banoffa. €72.25

We walked down the Liffey, past the Ha'Penny Bridge, and caught a bus to Donnybrook.
Ha'Penny Bridge
At the Tesco, we bought snacks for the flight home. €13.63

Tuesday, December 31

9:00am, breakfast of Pancakes, melon, juice, coffee, and tea.
10:00 Finish packing, and head down stairs... thanked Terry and the staff ever so much.
Shay's taxi picked us up €5 tip
11:30 Sun Transfer (SUNTR_BZ5267)
Check in, but no boarding passes for the JFK flight. Through security, then wandered the shopping area and had a bite until PreClearance.
One more trip through security.
2:30 Aer Lingus #109 (2C7HJ6) Dublin to JFK
Seats:38A, 38C, 39A, 39C
Boarding Passes
Arrive 6:05 pm
Landed in Terminal 5, so no security... got boarding passes, and cashed in Euros.
Plane was there, but not crew.

8:45 pm delayed until 9:30 EI 5000/Jet Blue JB 1295 JFK to Austin
Seats 22D, 22E, 21D, 22F
Boarding Passes
11:59 pm Arrival was actually wheels down in Austin about 12:30... we watched the ball drop for the new year on our seatback entertainment systems.
More entertaining was one of the flight attendants, in her New Year's Tiara kicking butt and taking names when a drunk would not sit down in the turbulence that shook us, a LOT.

1:00, Got the car, $62, dropped off Diane then Gracie, and we made it to Temple about 2:30.
What a great trip.

To Our Spring Break Trip to Ireland (our 4th trip to Ireland, 2014, Dublin, Trim Castle, Powerscourt, just Craig and Susann)