Bits and bobs

Random thoughts about random things by a random person


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Days 17 & 18 (Sept 28-29/19): Dublin and home!

I caught an early train from Killarney to Dublin on Sept 28th for my last stop before returning home. It was mostly a nice day – just a bit overcast but otherwise nice. There were even some sunny spots along the way, which were quite cheery.

The train ride went well, but it turned out that I had booked myself a backward-facing seat. Boo hiss!! You can’t tell when you book the seat what direction the car will be facing when en route. I rolled the dice and lost!

All was not lost, though – there wasn’t anybody sitting beside me, so I won the comfort toss on that one. πŸ™‚

When I got into Dublin (just before 11 a.m.), I got a taxi to my hotel (the Hilton Garden Inn Dublin Custom House) and dropped my bags off.

I had picked that hotel because it was next to the EPIC Irish Emigration Museum. I have an interest in genealogy so I wanted to go to the museum to see if I could get some information about emigration to Newfoundland and maybe make some connections to the people in my family tree from Ireland – maybe through ship manifests or something.

It didn’t have that kind of information, but was very interesting all the same. In part because of the architecture.

It is in the restored CHQ (Custom House Quay) building. Shops, cafes and such, and the entrance to the museum, are on the main level and the displays are below ground, in the vaults that were used for storage of cargo.

One surprising thing was that, in one of the displays that showed the impacts of Irish emigration worldwide, Newfoundland didn’t really figure in much. Even more surprisingly was that the west coast of Newfoundland was the only part that showed up, not the east coast – the part called “The Irish Loop”. It’s interesting – something I’ll do some more digging on.

It was all really well done, I have to say. There was a nice mix of types of displays – visual, audio, interactive, etc. If you are ever in Dublin, I recommend checking it out.

Here are some pictures of one of the displays. It was a busy place so it wasn’t possible to get a photo sans visitors.

After the museum, I booked a session with a professional genealogist for a little later in the afternoon. I ate my lunch on the main level of the CHQ and then headed back to the hotel to get settled in before the genealogy session.

I discovered quite clearly when I got into my room that I apparently love purple. In addition to the purple backpack and suitcases (which fit in perfectly with the room decor!), I should add that my Fitbit strap, tablet case and cell phone cover are also purple. None of it was planned – all items were bought completely separately (well, except for the suitcases, which came as a set). I may need to branch out… πŸ™‚

The room was quite comfortable and had a lovely view over the River Liffy.

You can’t really tell, but there’s a protest march of some sort on the other side of the river. I’m not sure what it was about. It sounded like they were chanting “No more Duncan Hynes”, but I’m pretty confident that’s not what they were actually saying. πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

The genealogy session was a lot of fun! The guy working with me was Patrick. He was a hoot!! Mind you, I’m a bit of a family history geek, so my definition of “fun” might be a bit different than yours!

After that, I went to a pub that’s also in the CHQ building and had a sodie pop and people watched for a while before dinner.

Urban Brewing, Dublin

The pub is on the main floor and has a nice, large outdoor seating area, too. The pub only serves tapas and I wanted a really nice meal for my last one in Ireland. However, downstairs is the affiliated Stack A restaurant so I opted to go there for dinner. Like the museum, is also located in the old custom vaults and is just spectacular.

Despite the quality issues with some of the photos, I think you can see why I say that. The food was amazing, too.

If I’m ever back in Dublin, I’m going back there for sure.

If you’re ever in Dublin, you need to go, too!

After a nice, leisurely dinner, I went back to the hotel for the drudgery of packing for my flight the next day and going through my receipts and stuff for Customs. Not an exciting way to spend your only night in Dublin, but necessary and, even so, it was still a lovely last night of my holiday.

The next morning brought me to the airport – after a lovely taxi ride with a super nice driver. No hitches or glitches with either of my flights, either.

And then, before I knew it, I was home.


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Day 16 (Sept 27/19): Killarney – St. Mary’s Church of the Sloes

This was my last day before going to Dublin.

I had originally thought to do a bus/boat tour to another part of the National Park today, but the weather was on-again-off-again rainy – again – and I had had enough of being wet the last few days, so I stayed around Killarney.

That’s not to say that I completely avoided getting wet – I didn’t. But I was able to trot back to the hotel to change and warm up, rather than spend the day in wet clothes.

I mostly just did some more twacking around, finishing up some gift buying.

I also went into the church across the street from my hotel – St. Mary’s. I had posted a picture of it previously when I was here two weeks ago. It’s really quite lovely. Below are some pictures of the windows inside.

Before I forget, and to keep in line with the unintentional theme for this trip of “Switches”, here’s how the Killarney Plaza Hotel deals with lights: You have to insert your room key in a slot in the entry of your room in order for any of the lights or anything to work. It’s a neat way to reduce electricity wastage!

And, speaking of the hotel…it was really quite lovely itself. I quite enjoyed hanging out on here to read and write for a bit while it was raining outside.

And so closes the Ring of Kerry chapter of my holiday!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 2)

I promised pictures of Killarney National Park and, at long last, here they are!

The first place we visited on the tour was Muckross Abbey. The walk from the road to the Abbey was so pretty. It was an on-again-off-again rainy day, so the skies were grey all day, but everything was beautifully green.

Then, of course, there was the Abbey itself. Most of it was built in the 15th century, with some small additions built in the 16th century.

On one end of the Abbey was a field. Check out the warning sign below. Not one I’d seen before, so I thought it was kind of fun. πŸ™‚

After that was the walk over to Muckross House, which was about a kilometre away. It was so beautiful and serene. This walk was one of my favourite parts of the visit to the Park.

The house itself was (as you can see) quite something itself, but I didn’t go in other than to visit the loo. The natural setting held my attention much more, I have to say.

The bus picked us up from there and then we headed to Torc Waterfall, which is about 200 metres along a trail from where the bus dropped us off. The walk was even more beautiful than the waterfall itself and is why this was my absolute favourite stop on the tour. Most people booted it directly to the waterfall, though. I get it – it was raining. Not the best weather for a leisurely stroll, but it was so. dang. beautiful. It was only 200 metres, but it probably took me at least 20 minutes to get up there because I kept stopping along the way.

The colour was indescribable. The photos really and truly don’t do it justice. There is a moss or lichen or something that grows on most of the trees, giving everything this soft, almost glowing green colour. It was spectacular and beautiful, and felt reverential and ethereal. I could imagine Tolkien characters fitting in quite nicely there. πŸ™‚

From there we were off to Ladies View. It had been raining quite hard for a while by then and the driver asked if we just wanted to go back to town. I would have been fine to skip the last stop, but the couple who was also on the tour wanted to go on, so we went.

The roads were really narrow and we had a tough time at one point when we (a smaller shuttle bus) were facing a full-size tour bus coming from the opposite direction. I had taken a couple of pictures to show you just how very tight the squeeze was for us to pass each other, but somehow or other I deleted them. D’oh!

At any rate, the view there was lovely and it wasn’t raining by then (just misty at most). There was a restaurant there where we had lunch before heading back to Killarney.

OK…that’s it for Killarney National Park!

If you are ever even sort of close to it, you should really check it out!!


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Killarney National Park (Part 1)

I arrived in Killarney much too early Thursday to check into my hotel, but I was able to drop my bags off there and head out.

I was, however, early enough for the Killarney National Park bus tour that I had scoped out when I was here two weeks ago.

It wasn’t a great day for weather, but it wasn’t awful, either. Plus the forecast for Friday was pretty well the same, so no point waiting. Carpe diem, right?

We weren’t many on the tour and it wasn’t a regular kind of bus tour. I had expected some bits of info shared by the driver, or another person on the bus for that person, but nope. Nada.

Well, he did stop at one point while we were en route to point out a herd of deer that were laying about and/or grazing in a field just off the road. But there was no commentary about the area or anything.

I suppose maybe it was in the name – it was a “shuttle” as opposed to a “tour”, so I guess that was it.

I had checked in at the Irish tourism office before doing the tour, and while the man was pleasant, he wasn’t super helpful or forthcoming with info. He and two other colleagues had been chatting when I approached, so maybe that was why – he just wanted to get back to the chat.

I’ve found that fairly common, actually. Not brushing you off to get back to a chat, but not being very forthcoming with info. I understood it at the train station two weeks ago – the guy gave basic info in Dublin and I had to ask for some more specifics. But the train isn’t tailored for tourists. It’s just a regular mode of transport.

But a shuttle bus/tour of the National Park…well…um…that’s geared towards tourism. Even if there are locals who do use it repeatedly, it’s safe to assume that tourists (particularly those in the tourism office asking questions don’t know the “normal” way of doing things.

On tours I’ve done in other places, they’ve been really good about what you need to do, where you need to go, how to get there, etc.

Not a big deal – just interesting. Plus, maybe I have developed a face like a smacked arse and nobody wants to talk to me more than they absolutely have to? πŸ˜‰

At any rate, I made it to the bus and the park. We had the same driver the whole day. He wasn’t very forthcoming at first, either, until I had asked a few questions. Then it became clear to him that he couldn’t just drop us off and assume we knew what the heck we were about.

There was an older couple on the bus, too, and they really didn’t know what the scoop was. It was obvious that the husband did not know much English at all and relied on his wife for that. I could tell she was struggling, too, even with the driver’s explanations of what time we needed to be back at the bus.

The lady and I chatted a little at one stop. I asked where they were from, fully expecting (from the sound of the language they were speaking) an eastern European country. Her answer almost stopped me dead in my tracks: “Dublin.”

Whaaaaaaaaat?

She followed it up with the fact that they were originally from Lithuania. “Ohhhhh…OK. That makes sense,” I thought. “They must have recently moved.”

Wrong again!

She told me they’ve been in Dublin for 30 years.

I became instantly grateful for the relative ease with which I learn languages. I can’t imagine living somewhere for 30 years and still be struggling with basic things like the time.

They seemed nice, but conversation was very stilted and limited to “What time…?” and “Awful weather…” The husband, bless his socks and slippers, tried to make conversation at one point, too, when his wife was off somewhere.

“You from Canada…In France?” I asked a couple of times to confirm that that was indeed what he was asking and I tried to explain that Canada was in North America, but I don’t know how successful I was.

But despite the linguistic challenges, we helped each other out. I was a bit of a go-between with the driver and the woman for some things and she came and alerted me at Ladies View to the fact that the bus had arrived, to make sure that I didn’t miss it.

As always, the people you meet add such an interesting dimension to travel!

This post is getting long, so I think I’ll count this one as done. I’ll post pictures in a later post (or two?). The image uploading options are better on my laptop than in this app, so I might actually wait till I’m home in a couple of days.

Before I close, though, I have to say that if you ever get the chance to go to Killarney National Park, please be sure to do so. As I’ve said before, my tablet doesn’t have a great camera, so the photos really do not do the place justice. But it really is worth the time to go there.


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Day 15 (Sept 26/19): Waterville to Killarney

I was up at the dark hour of 6 a.m. yesterday to get myself ready and out the door in time for the bus to Killarney at 7 a.m.

Before I got up, I could hear the wind blowing and was not looking forward to trudging with my suitcases to the bus stop. It is less than 5 minutes away, but if there was a driving rain like we’d had at times during the past few days, I would be sopping wet (good rain jacket or no) before I got there.

Plus, since there is only the one bus, I wanted to be there at least 15 minutes early to be sure I didn’t miss it. There was no shelter, so I’d be good and drenched for sure before getting on the bus.

Waterville is the first stop – the originating point – of the route at that time of the day so I also thought the bus might even be there a little early, to make sure the trip started on time. So if it was raining, there was a slight hope that I would be able to board before the 7:00 departure and not be as wet as I might otherwise have been.

Happily, when I did leave, I discovered there was no rain – only the wind!!

Before you ask, I had looked out the curtains, but it was pitch black. The windows were speckled with rain, but I couldn’t tell if it was still falling or not. Depending on the direction of the wind, the windows didn’t necessarily get much rain. So it wasn’t till I got out there that I knew for sure.

I got to the stop just more than 15 minutes before it was due to leave. The bus wasn’t there yet, but no biggy. It was just wind.

There was a bench in an uncovered recess near the stop, so I wheeled my suitcases in there – the stop was on an incline and those roll-any-direction wheels these days would have taken my bags on quite a tour in that wind had I just left them on the sidewalk.

It would have made for a funnier post, I suppose, to tell you about me having to chase them over hell’s half acre and barely make it back in time for the bus (or even miss it completely), but that’s not a story I really wanted to have to tell. Sorry!! πŸ™‚

I alternated between sitting and standing – to make sure I could see the bus when it was coming – and waited.

And waited.

And waited.

By 7:05 I was getting a little antsy. As I said, it was the starting point of the route. How could you be behind before you even started?

By 7:10, I was double-checking the times on the route post sign at the stop. Yup…just as it had said when I looked at it yesterday:From Aug 31/19 to June 2020: 7 a.m. every day except Sunday.

The schedule at the bus stop in Waterville

I knew I hadn’t missed it – I was there more than 15 minutes early.

I started thinking I might need to reach out to the caretaker and let her know that, no, I wasn’t leaving today. I’d be staying at least another night. (I had it paid for up to the 28th.)

By 7:15, I was online (thank goodness again that I had bought that cell phone with its unlimited data!!!) to see if I could find any info about anything that could have delayed the bus. After a couple of minutes of searching, I found a real-time indicator for the route and my stop. The bus was due to arrive in 2 minutes. Whew!!

And sure enough, before long, the bus came round the corner. I loaded my bags in, got a ticket from the driver and plunked myself down in a seat, ready to enjoy another lovely ride. As dawn had risen by now, I was looking forward to the same spectacular views as on my trip down to Waterville.

There were only me and another lady on the bus at this point. They knew each other, but I inserted myself into their conversation fairly easily.

More people got on and off at the other stops and most, if not all, were regulars. They knew the driver by name and he knew theirs. That was nice to see. The familiarity between them made the whole thing feel somehow a bit homey and more comfortable.

The first lady got off at one point and another lady got on. I have to admit, I didn’t understand much of what the second lady said. She was rather elderly and, from what I could gather, had spent much of her life on a farm. She never had a landline. And beyond that, I didn’t understand much. she was pleasant, though, and quite happy to converse.

I had a very interesting conversation with the driver, though. It was fascinating to get a local perspective on Brexit, the EU and other issues. He wasn’t a grumbly, negative, “I just want to rant and complain” kind of person. He seemed quite informed on current events. I know it was just his own perspective, but I appreciated getting to learn about that perspective all the same.

For example, the only thing I had heard on the news back home about the impact of Brexit to Ireland was the in relation to the border between Northern Ireland (part of the UK and therefore about to leave the EU) and the Republic of Ireland (a separate country on its own, not part of the UK and therefore not leaving the EU).

But the driver explained that they anticipate a lot of impacts to their trade. A goodly portion of their exports go to the UK. The UK is also the land route for many of their exports to other countries in the EU. Ireland is also not allowed to negotiate its own trade agreement with the UK; it has to be done by the EU and, apprently, Ireland doesn’t even have a seat at the table.

He also explained some of the concerns he has about being in the EU at all.

Now, I’m no expert in any of that stuff and have no idea if any portion of what he said is true or not. But…it is what he believes. He is probably not the only one. Sometimes what is fact isn’t really the imporant thing – or certainly not the only important thing.

What the People think or believe is their reality and is true for them. It’s not something that can or should (in my opinion) be ignored. Nothing very good ever seems to come from ignoring the People and their concerns/fears.

Anyway, as I said, I was glad to learn of that side of things. It has given me more interest in following what happenns with Brexit and the EU – it’s easier to become interested in something when you have real, individual faces and names of people who are impacted by it.

Before I knew it, I was in Killarney. I hadn’t paid much attention to the scenery at all, but thoroughly enjoyed myself all the same, if for entirely different reasons. πŸ™‚


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Day 14 (Sept 25/19): Not quite done – Another beautiful sunset!!

I know I said that the previous post was likely to be the last one from Waterville, but on my way to The Lobster for dinner, there was another beautiful sunset.

On the way back afterwards, it was still stunning, but in a different way, so I snapped a shot of that, too.

And, well, it would be selfish of me not to share, right?

Since I can’t choose just one, you’re getting a few similar ones. πŸ™‚


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Day 13 (Sept 24/19): Crappy weather, but that didn’t stop me – today :)

As you may have read, yesterday’s weather was not what we would call great.

Today has been no better. In fact, I think it’s been worse. The wind has been a lot higher and more constant and the waves have been rolling in a lot harder, too. The rain hasn’t been as hard, but it’s lasted all day with only minor lulls.

In the morning, I still hoped it might clear up, but unlike yesterday, I was under no delusion today that it might really happen.

In any event, I would be going out today.

I have one day left in Waterville and the forecast for tomorrow is no better, so I don’t have enough time to be choosey about the weather.


I had garbage to bring out and there were several things on the Waterville Heritage Trail that I still hadn’t seen and I also wanted to check out the exhibit about the trans-Atlantic telegraph cables at Tech Amergin.

So, when the rain tapered off a bit around noon, I got ready and went out.

I brought the garbage to the disposal site at the community centre first, to get that done. Then I went across the road to the Waterville Cable Station Exhibition.

Left side of placard with key dates for the Waterville cable station

Right side of placard with key dates for the Waterville cable station

It was really interesting. Firstly, because of Newfoundland’s connection to the whole Atlantic cable thing. I’ve been to the  site in Heart’s Content, NL that was connected to another cable site near here on Valentia Island. It was neat to be at a site on this side of the Atlantic. And secondly, it was interesting because of where telecommunications are nowadays. It’s a really neat vantage point from which to look at it.

For example, I am writing this on a device the size of a paperback novel and, once I publish it, people all over the world will be able to see it at practically the same time. That is astounding!!

Especially when you think what was involved in getting international cable communication going. The Atlantic is a big place. It’s not just the distance as the crow flies, but also the depth of the ocean. And all the potential threats all along the cable. It’s amazing.

And that technology was state-of-the-art at the time for international communication.

Before that, it was snail mail, which could take weeks or months.

After it came wireless telegraph communication, which was also almost instant, but without the bother, risk and expense of the cables.

And look where we are now!

What will it be in another 100 years?

It’s worth the time every now and then to sit back and appreciate the perspective a reflection on the past gives us.

After the exhibit, the rain had picked up again, but I carried on to the other cable-related spots. They were near Tech Amergin and, as I said, tomorrow’s weather doesn’t promise anything better, so there was no point putting them off.

Two of the three main buildings (the “new” offices and the superintendent’s house) are up for sale. They are lovely stone buildings, but would likely need a lot of capital to make them habitable or useable. It’s a shame, but they will probably stay empty.

The original building is a B&B and restaurant, so it’s at least in use, and the homes that had been built for staff were sold and, I think, are still in use as residential homes today.

With those sites visited, and the fact that I had seen some of the other spots on my other jaunts, the only thing left on the Trail for me to see is the Charlie Chaplin statue.

I’ve actually passed it umpteen times, but never saw it. Even when actually looking for it. I only figured out where it is on one of my night walks, from behind. Of course. Why would I notice it in broad daylight from the front??

Anyway, by the time I finished with the cable-related sites, I was sufficiently drenched (only my legs and a bit of hair that refused to stay inside my hood, thanks to Eddie Bauer!). I didn’t want to go any further to see Charlie today. Instead, as it had been about 5 hours since breakfast, I went to Beachcove Cafe (which was on my way home) for another yummy, albeit late, lunch.

My lunch! I also had some fries (I forgot the salad was included) and a DELICIOUS maple walnut cake.

I had planned on going to The Lobster for supper this evening, and I would go see Charlie then. But it was just too gnarly out there and I couldn’t convince myself to go from cozy and dry to damp, cold and wet again.

So, I’m in for the night. Charlie will just have to wait till tomorrow!!


Some photos of the bay today. They don’t look as bad as it really was. It got worse this evening, but I didn’t take any pictures then. I snuck these during breaks in the rain. I tried to upload a video, but it didn’t work. You can see then on my Instagram account, though: @heresmeg1111


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