No sheep

Trillium by downspout

After days of a sheep-decorated landscapes, we just have to note: no sheep (here). Not a one. But here the trilliums are busting forth. Love me a trillium. So a carpet of them leaves me breathless.

Forgetmenot cluster

I had not realized that the carpet of trilliaciousness* can be accompanied by an equally glorious showing of forget-me-nots. I am slightly more educated in wildflowers after today’s reveals.

I took both these photos are right by our northwest downspout. I didn’t have to venture into the woods, or even someone else’s woods, to obtain them.

Happy woods-wandering! Maybe you can find a floral vision that’s equally spellbinding….

* Made-up word.

No cats

Cats safety sign

Cleverest traffic safety sign of the day (and poorest-quality snapshot): “Cats have 9 lives. You are not a cat. Buckle up.”

Sunset golden

Compelling sunset; unenhanced, original color—so golden and rich.

Winding things up

Ardboe high cross

I thought this was our “last” high cross of the trip, and then we saw a replica in a museum. Does that count?

Ardboe lilac

Also at Ardboe (no ruins of the monastery that was here), we found grave monument setters at work, and this lilac. Can you see the white spots in the first photo? And a couple of flies in this picture? Many bugs…a hatch. They weren’t house flies. Still annoying, however.

L shaped stoplight

Haven’t noticed L-shaped stoplights before….

Tailed sheep

Strange that all these sheep turned their tails toward us—and they have tails. Lots of that here, but plenty are docked.

Beaghmore stone circles etc

Last stone circles of the trip. These are the Beaghmore group.

Beaghmore partial drone

JCB and the drone captured some fine shots. This is just part of the area of circles, alignments, cairns, etc. Further, this valley is peppered with stone features. And without a doubt more are undiscovered beneath the peat. The peat is covered by brown and grey vegetation in the drone photo.

Tulach Óg defended entrance

On to the last ring fort occupied into the 1600s. This is a famous spot, as one of the last Gaelic kings (sub-king I’d say) was inaugurated here in 1593; his name was Aodh Mór Ó Néill. Aodh is Hugh in English. Mór means great. Aodh would have called this place Tulach Óc; today it’s Tullyhogue. Someone lived here in a wooden building into the 1600s. This is the entrance and the original entrance probably required a Z-shaped path between wooden palisades.

Hawthorn hedgerow

We’ve been seeing these blooming hawthorns everywhere—down hedgerows and here at Tulach Óc. The scent is strong.

Queens U Belfast

In Belfast! Here’s the formal façade of Queens University Belfast.

Garden signpost

Next to the core buildings of the Univ is the Ulster Botanic Gardens.

Palm house Belfast

This is the door to the Palm House. The plants were ho-hum. There was a HOT room, that made my chest feel compressed.


A metal Lord Kelvin stands inside the main entrance to the BotGarden.

Ulster Museum outdoor sculpture

This is a sculpture outside the Ulster Museum.

Just periodic overcast, no sprinkles. Is this really Ireland?

Antrim coast, then inland

Road to Dunluce castle

This is the inland side of a promontory fort location, very defensible. The construction here dates to the same period as Donegal Castle that we visited yesterday. Visually, it looks quite different because the stuccoing (perhaps not the technical term) is gone here and not in Donegal. Anyway, the foreground is the original cobble street, discovered below the modern sod. Around me, the photog, are archaeological remains of the village that was outside the castle. This castle, far right and distant, was built/occupied by MacQuillans and then MacDonnells, Scottish landholders and traders. The village had a substantial Scottish merchant population, numbering nearly 300. There was an earlier castle here dating to the ~1200s. I suspect there may have been an earlier occupation, too….

Dunluce tourons

We arrived just after two big busloads of tourons. As we made our way to the ticket booth, we realized they were not entering the castle, only standing at the fence. Yay for the logic of bus-tour scheduling (?).

Dunluce chimney base detail

We took many detail shots of the castle and its setting. This is the remaining bottom portion of a fireplace surround, and the view through the hole in the wall of the next peninsula, covered with pasture and gorse. Strangely, it was not windy.

Dunluce galley etching

I’ve messed with the photo settings in an attempt to bring out an etching of a late medieval Scottish galley. Perhaps easiest to spot is an upright triangle, representing the sail, I think. At the bottom are a pair of horizontal lines indicating the ship, with a line of dots along the upper line. Perhaps you can see the upturned ends to the left and right.

Giants causeway upper

We went on east to a geological feature called Giant’s Causeway. It’s a basalt formation of hexagonal columns, broken and weathered on the tops. There are several folk tales about the formation; track them down if you like fanciful stories.

Giants causeway midway

This view is back at the bus turnaround. Many people take the bus down, or more likely back (uphill). We walked both ways. My fitbit has been giving me in excess of 100 flights per day over the last 10 days; not today, unexpectedly.

Giants causeway lower wave crashing

We spent some time watching the waves crash near the end of the formation, soaking in the sunshine. Just lovely.

Giants causeway tidepool

I found this tide pool with its brilliant green-yellow whatever-it-is. There are conical shells, too—barnacles? I don’t know much about sea-critters.

Giants causeway hexagons

Here’s a top-down view of the columns. Love the slight distortion of the geometrics.

Giants causeway

Here is a stand of the columns. So dramatic.

Dandelion with fly occupants

We spotted several dandelions along the return route to the parking lot, and even a few buttercups (I think), with flies camped out on them. In contrast, white flowers were bereft of flies. What’s the deal?

Bushmills industrial

We made a quick stop at the Old Bushmills Distillery. We thought about taking the tour, but it was priced at £8/person, and we decided to pass. Even if it included a wee tasting at the end.

WildDuckPub Portglenone

Here’s your daily pub shot. This is the Wild Duck in Portglenone. The town is on the River Bann, which connects the large freshwater lake called Lough Neagh to the sea. Vikings sailed up the Bann, and spent the winter of 840/841 at the monasteries at Antrim and Ardboe. Subsequently, they made camps other places around the lake from which they raided elsewhere in the interior of this part of the island.

Watch the weather change

Cloud on mountain

Even before we left the B&B, we’d had sun, sprinkles, overcast, repeat. That was the pattern throughout the day. As we rolled down the road early on, we spotted a cloud sitting atop this ridge. By the time we got to the end of it, the cloud had lifted. Sunshine!

Donegal Castle river

First stop: Donegal Castle. One part is 15th C; another is 17th C; the whole was refurbished in the early 1990s. For several generations this was the seat of the O’Donnell leaders. The town has encroached upon all but a small area immediately adjacent to the castle. In the foreground here is the River Eske.

Donegal great hall

The Great Hall has been partly furnished. The fireplace surround is 16th-C, installed when the Brooke family owned the castle; they did many modifications/upgrades.

Donegal great hall roof

The room above the Great Hall has these fantastic beams supporting the roof. The engineering seems similar to that of covered bridges, etc.

Rhodo CU

Several days back we started seeing rhododendrons in the roadside vegetation. The Guru discovered that they’re an invasive species here. Beautiful flowers, however.

Killybegs working boats

We passed by Killybegs harbor, a hive of activity on the docks, and moored boats and ships, plus sailboats. I think these two are fishing vessels, but that’s a landlubber’s hypothesis.

First Irish only place sign

This is the first big highway sign that we noticed that did not have the English place-names paired with the Irish. Still haven’t overheard people speaking Gaelic very often.

Fiber optics coming to rural Donegal

We think this is fiber-optic installation. We spotted over a dozen yellow trucks that were part of the installation crew, we thought. It will be a big change to this rural area of County Donegal. Note mountain in the background.

Slieve League cliffs

From Carrick (An Charraig on the sign above), we took a side road out to this viewpoint for the seaside cliffs of Slieve League (Irish: Sliabh Liag). These are twice as high as the famous Cliffs of Moher, at just a fuzz under 2K feet.

John the Miners bar Carrick

We returned to Carrick to turn north toward (eventually) Derry and Northern Ireland. This place is called John the Miner’s Central Bar. FYI.

Sheep roadside

Rolling along, only a few times we’ve driven in open range. Usually, if sheep are on the road, they have escaped through the fence. I think that was the case with this one and her several buddies (not pictured).

View N Glengesh Pass

What a view as we passed down the northeast side from Glengesh Pass (translation: Glen of the Swans). Don’t those rounded flanks reek of glaciation?

Log truck

We’ve seen a few log trucks. The logs seem short compared to what we’ve seen in the USA. They come exclusively (or nearly so) from tree plantations.

Speed trap van

It behooves you to notice these buggies. That camera sign may look like a quaintly historic model; however, it signals a speed check/trap. They used to have installations along the roads, but now there are just vans randomly deployed. There aren’t many, as this is the second one we’ve spotted.

Grianán of Aileach drone

Droney took to the air at Grianán of Aileach, a reconstructed stone fort just west of Derry (officially Londonderry), but on a high spot in the Republic. This view is toward the southwest, so it’s all the Republic of Ireland.

International border

Another rainstorm hit as we crossed the international border. Can you see the change in the pavement in the foreground? That’s the border. How will it change with Brexit?

Soon, the rain had stopped and soon after that the sun was out. We have been very lucky with good weather on this trip.

Rainy day adventures

Velveteen cape

This is a crappy shot to illustrate what I’ve been calling the velveteen cape—the apparent piecework of fields and the green hedges that separate them. When it’s a big expanse of the landscape, and you’re a bit above it, the rolling contours and the fields really look like a textured quilt to me.

Stone field walls

In contrast, when the fields are demarcated by stone walls, I no longer see a giant cape. Still eye-catching, but different.

Cliffs of moher view south

One of our big points-of-interest for the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Only it was rainy and windy, too rainy to make it worth €6 apiece to join the crowds released from buses to fight our way against a headwind to the overlook to hang over the fence to take a picture before turning tail and scooting back across the road to the parking area. Are we wimps?

Doolin ireland

Instead, we explored one-and-a-half lane roads and small towns we would have skipped to “do” the Cliffs, and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. This town is named Doolin.

Cahermacnaghten cashel

Eventually we cut inland and visited a stone cashel/fort. This cashel was among the domiciles of a minor sept, the O’Davoren family, Brehon lawyers for their overlords, the O’Loughlins, lords of Burren, and both the popular and academic literature places their law school at this cashel. However, recent research indicates the law school buildings were not in the cashel, but less than a kilometer away occupying a complex of buildings that seems more suitably sized for such an institution. O’Davorens did live here in the 16th and 17th Cs; as negotiators for their superiors, they were well-connected to the greater world far beyond this area, which had a far greater population than it does today.

The name of this place in English is Cahermacnaghten; the Irish name is Cathair Mhic Neachtain. This fortified homestead was first built long before the period of the Brehon law school.

Burren stone

The Burren is an area of rolling limestone hills and stone surfaces exposed by glaciation in this part of western Ireland. This particular area is next to the sea. I saw one place where blocks had been removed, no doubt for building stone—very blocky. The blocks are called clints and the fissures are called grykes/grikes/scailps. There’s poetry in these words!

Burren uplands

From what we saw of the uplands, the “pavement” quality is not as extensive—it looks like grey rubble here. Note that the lower areas are green, and we hypothesized that considerable labor had been invested to remove the rocks. Apologies for the crappy snap; it was the best of the crop.

Athenry corner

Here’s a left-or-right choice in Athenry, a town east of Galway that we visited because it has notable surviving medieval city wall.

Athenry medieval city wall

Here is the wall behind the cud-chewing cattle. There’s a ditch outside the wall (green bushy vegetation), and I think traces of piled soil outside of that. Anyway, for a tourist calling card, the wall receives no emphasis whatsoever, and no good access. I think all that light grey outlining the stones indicates recent reconstruction…which is fine. But.

Galway harbor

We are rolling through Galway by the harbor, excuse me harbour. I don’t remember an in-town light-up sign before, and it caught my eye. Coming into cities, we have seen light-up signs that list the names of the parking areas and the number of open spaces. Very handy!

Ballroom floor dust

And now for something completely different. Three somethings. This is a powder or dust that apparently was applied to ballroom floors to make it the right amount of slippery for dancers. Dundalk is on the east shore of the island and we are on the west. This bag was in a display in an “antiques” shop window.

Sams lemon drizzle handbag

Here’s what’s called a Sams Lemon Drizzle Handbag, a cleverly folded package for a cake, handcrafted in Ireland.

Rent an Irish Cottage

This cracked me up when I found it while navigating. Someone has slipped a little joke past GooMaps.

Sunday drive

Kells churchyard

It’s Sunday, so perhaps somehow fitting that we should begin today’s excursion at a churchyard. Another high cross…more burials. Flowers.


Bluebells, in this case.

Kells roundtower

This is the highest hill in Kells, and the oldest building remaining in the compound is the round tower, most of which still stands. Everyone seems compelled to point out that while most such towers have four window-openings at the top, this one has five—one for each of the main roads leading into town (and away from it, duh).

Canola road row

And, we’re off again. Colors—canola yellow flowers, red car, green vegetation, grey road. Yeah, a snapshot.

Tara earthworks

This is some of the earthworks at Hill of Tara, commonly called Tara, just as Margaret Mitchell used it in “Gone with the Wind.” Too much complicated archaeology to even broach it. Take it merely as intricate visual candy, and admire the ancient ones who planned and created this.

River bridge

Here’s a little swoopy stone bridge over a river/creek.

Trim castle keep

This is the keep of Trim Castle; it’s the largest Anglo-Norman castle on this big island. It was here by 1175, replacing an earlier wooden fortified structure. Life hustled and bustled in the area surrounding the keep and within the curtain walls (completed ~1200)—craftsmen and servants, knights and merchants—and stables, a lime kiln, and so on. The castle offered sufficient security that the town outside the walls became substantial.

Stonewall fern

Loving these little ferns that have taken hold in the castle wall. And are degrading it.

Road approaching HILLS

We push on. We are looking for hills. Aha! There are some! We’re still in the Boyne Valley, but we’re inland and nearing the edge of the catchment.

Lane grass center

Off on a “leetle” road. I’d call it a lane. With grass overtaking the center.

Gorse blossoms

And, off to the right: gorse! Here’s a cluster of gorse blossoms close up.

Loughcrew cairn

We climbed a little hill this morning at Tara. This one, with some of the Loughcrew cairns atop, requires much more effort. And, on the summit: another Neolithic passage tomb. Signs around it urge “No Climbing.” The accent of every person I heard climbing the mound: Irish. It’s their patrimony…. We stayed on the ground surface. Plenty to see from this hilltop—you can get a hint of how high we are by the distant view in the horizon to the left. Sunny and gorgeous. Beautiful day.

Pink wildflower

I don’t know what this flower is called; I found it in the hedgerow as I stopped to catch my breath.

Biblical furies

Dogwood bloom duo

So, late yesterday here in Atlanta we had a (localized) apocalyptic fire. Then, in the lantern hours we suffered a big rain and wind storm .

The fire—no human casualties, but I just heard law enforcement made arrests after the evening news—firebugs. And the storm, we weathered it (teehee).

Pollen dusting

It knocked back the pollen for a few hours…. [This was before the storm….]

No haymakers thrown

Horse patrol

Looks like the fantastically warm temps have brought out the horse troops. Clop clop. Better than mildew!

Bust chandelier

That’s a chandelier of stainless kitchen tools behind the plaster bust. Un-busted bust.

Dark side, not moon

Majestic Food in lights

Someone (not me) made a late-day drone run to capture the soft light of the Golden Hour. This is the dark side of the Majestic at dusk, however. Isn’t that a green!