Here is who we are traveling with in our second session:
Lin Sisson Taunton, Massachusetts
Roger & Noella Benvenuti Corona, California
Steve & Julie Treutel Fredonia, Wisconsin
Mike Nulty Tom Nulty Sussex, Wisconsin Slinger, Wisconsin
Mark & Mark Kay Bostwick Port Washington, Wisconsin
Mike & Mary Maney New Berlin, Wisconsin
Ted & Loretta Zuber Pocatello, Idaho
Lin and Denice up front in the van
Today we are off to the Boyne Valley in the mountainous Cooley Peninsula (Co. Louth). Our mid-morning break was at a coffee shop in a florist but what I discovered was the flea market stash in one of their barns.
We are going today to the Proleek Portal Tomb, or Dolmen (Co. Louth). This megalithic tomb is a delicate balance of large stone boulders each weighing many tons and supporting a massive capstone that was the doorway to a burial chamber that no longer exists. It is thought the Tomb dates from around 3000 b.c.
Our lunch stop today is Carlingford (or Cairlinn), Co. Louth. We had time to do a walkabout and get something to eat.
Denice and I had lunch at Ruby Ellen's Tea Rooms.
On to Belfast as we cross into Northern Ireland. This means we are leaving Ireland and entering Britain. Thus lies the problem: the continuing conflict between those who want this territory to be England and those who want the territory to be Ireland.
The most disturbing portion of all three weeks that we spent in Ireland occurred next. We entered Belfast and immediately were put in black cabs for a tour of the issues that have affected this portion of the world since The Troubles, civil unrest and warfare from 1968 to 1998. Since 1998 there has been a simmering limited conflict known as the Dissident Irish Republican Campaign.
The continuing conflict is exemplified by the Peace Wall, an attempt to make the two sides seperate and think about what they were doing in the 1970s. Instead, it stands as a permanent reminder that this conflict continues today.
In addition, gates are pulled open during the day, but pulled closed at night, to keep the two sides away from each other. This was all explained to us by a black cab driver from the Nationalist (Protestant) side (We are English and the IRA is horrible) and a black cab driver from the Nationalist (Catholic) side (We are Irish and the British soldiers and their supporters are murderers).
We were given a chance to visit the wall and ponder the issues that still separate these people.
Denice leaves her message on the wall
Honestly, I was happy to get out of Dodge. While I was fascinated by the history, I was very upset by the "commercialization" of the conflict that this tour represented.
Once back on our van, we are off to Carnlough (Co. Antrim).
Next we were in the forest of Glenariff (Co. Antrim).
We visited another ancient site: Layd Church (Co. Antrim). A 13th century Franciscan foundation upon which a parish church sat from 1306 to the end of the 18th century.
On the Torr Head drive we visited another beach.
Part of the charm of this tour is that it is a backroads look at Ireland. We have a few exceptions on the trip and this portion is one of them. We are off to see The Giant's Causeway (Co. Antrim), a World Heritage site. While it is amazing to see, it is full of people on a very hot day--just like our stop at the Cliffs of Moher. This made the stop a challenge to my patience--and the ground made it a challenge to my ankles.
Being on the water is one of my favorite things on this trip and it is time now to take the Lough Foyle ferry.
Our van, shipboard again
Once on land again, we headed over to the Clonca Church (Co. Donegal) site. The 17th century planter's church is built on the foundation of an earlier church associated with a monastic site founded by St Morialagh in the 6th Century.
We are back into the Republic of Ireland on the Inishowen Peninsula for our stay is in the town of Culdaff (Co. Donegal). Our accommodations were the McGrory’s Hotel,
This night Denice and I had dinner with Roger and Noella. This night there was no music in town--we were disappointed to find out it is tomorrow when we will be long gone.