"The Green Isle" and it sure should be with all this rain! Everyone we've met says
this is the wettest summer in 50 years. I guess that's global warming for you! Last
year when we wanted to be here they had record sun and heat, this year when we are
here they are having floods and rain! They have fuchsia plants growing wild alongside
fences and hedgerows that are as much as 10 feet high! They're growing wild and
free. The ones in the picture are alongside one campsite and about 5 feet high.
The first stop was Dublin for a day. We finally found a campsite. The one in our
guidebook was permanently closed. We were told of one in another suburb by someone
in a gas station. When we got to the town we stopped in the parking lot of a row
of shops to ask for directions to the campground. While I was in the news-shop asking
directions a lady came out of the florists shop and told Kathy they had a GoldWing
too and were going to leave for the Treffen on Thursday. We said we were too. She
called her husband and he came over and guided us to the campground (the news agent
didn't know of a campground). They invited us to join them on Thursday for the ride
to the Treffen and we accepted. Meanwhile we had a day to spend in Dublin.
One of the most famous places in Dublin is a section of the old town called "The
Temple Bar". It is an area of about 2 blocks wide by 6 blocks long alongside the
river that has restaurants, bars, nightclubs, craft shops, art shops and tourist
shops. We started there and wandered around, had lunch and had "a pint" in the Temple
Bar itself. We saw the post office, the site of a famous gun battle during the struggles
And we visited Molly Maguire, the famous "tart with a cart". The Irish like to have
nicknames for their statues.
And, of course, we had to visit Guinness, the brewery of the famous stout. Actually
it is called "The St. James Gate Brewery" and what they brew is called Guinness after
the man who started it. In 1759 Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 (yes, that is nine
thousand) year lease at a site on St. James street to build his brewery. He has
expanded several times and today sells 10,000,000 glasses of Guinness a day worldwide.
On Thursday we followed our new friends to the Treffen Site. We traveled across
stone bridges and past ruined castles on a day with mixed rain and sun. It was an
all-day run from Dublin on the east coast to Stranolar in the northwest. We crossed
the border into Northern Ireland and back out the other side on our journey. (Northern
Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are separate countries and although the violence
has decreased it is still a sore subject to the Irish people.) The major difference
for us is that the speed limit signs went from kilometers to miles and back.
The camping area was in a sports field of an athletic club. We had the use of the
meeting hall, the bar, the bathrooms and the showers, but they were all quite a walk. Our
tent in the middle near the far end of the field. Some of the campers were flying
a flag above their tent and we had seen an American flag, so we headed for it. But
it was a British couple that had gotten the flag from an American couple at an earlier
For dinner there was roast pork. The outer slices were excellent, but the farther
in they carved the rarer it got.
Followed by pool in the bar. That's Kathy getting ready to sink the eight ball.
Followed by local students of Irish Dancing. A good time was had by all.
We went on the Parade of Nations the next day. It was another wet day. We went
to a neighboring town and flew the flags of our home countries. We have four small
(about 4" x 6") US flags that we were going to use but our British neighbor in the
campsite insisted we use their flag. So we did.
The awards were handed out that night. There are awards for several categories,
including ones for the various country's clubs based on a point structure. The number
of bikes times the number of kilometers gives the club their points. We are members
of the Portuguese club and we got fourth place. (The Treffens are run under the
rules of the GoldWing European Federation, GWEF, but one can't join the GWEF, one
must join one of the member country's club. We have some very good friends in Portugal,
that's why we are Portuguese!) The picture is of all the Portuguese, including the
Other prizes went to the oldest and youngest riders and passengers. This baby won
youngest passenger at 14 weeks old. Another prize went to long distance bike, but
we don't know how they calculated the mileage. When we checked in one of the things
on the form is a question on how far you have come. We put in 7299 km, the distance
to our home according to the GPS. They questioned the distance because we had
more than the other Portuguese members who had put down a little over 2,500 km. We
told them that according to our GPS that is the distance from our tent to our house,
in a straight line. Then they asked how far we had come from Portugal, and I said
nearly 9,000 kilometers on the scenic route. That was even worse. Then they wanted
to know when we left home and we told them "March of last year and we have about
25,000 km since then". Finally I told them I didn't care how they calculated it,
we were here for the fun not trophies. In the end we figure they must have only
used kilometers in Ireland because an Irishman won it! And there were bikes from
Poland, Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and ours from America (as well as several
On Sunday there were no rides scheduled so we did one on our own. We went about
an hour and a half north, into Northern Ireland, to the coast to visit the Bushmills
Distillery. It is the oldest licensed distillery in the world. It received its
license to distill in 1608. Next year for their 400th birthday they must have big
plans because a new fancy visitor's center is being built. After lunch, and a free
sample of whisky, we went on.
To the Giant's Causeway. This is a large area of columnar basalt that you can walk
on top of just as if it were stepping stones. It runs under the sea and over to
one of the Scottish Islands. The legend has it that it was used by a giant to cross
over from Scotland to fight a local giant.
We are in the left of center in this picture, sort of camouflaged by our riding gear. The
other side of this is like a staircase with very uneven steps. All told it covers
about 5 acres out of the water.
That was the last day of the Irish Treffen and we left for southwest Ireland the
next day. The roads were slow and it took all day to get there. We camped at the
beginning of "The Ring of Kerry". During our travels here we saw several of these
mansions that had been abandoned. This one had no floors, roof or windows. We have
no idea why they're empty but they were obviously very nice houses at one time.
The Ring of Kerry is a very rough and narrow road that leads around the peninsula
that is County Kerry in SW Ireland. It is one of the most famous roads in Ireland
and has a lot of tour buses on it. Because the road is so narrow the buses only
go counter-clockwise around the route. This is the harbor at the little town of Kells. Nearly
the whole route has these views of the Atlantic backed by green hills and grazing
Along the way we stopped at the ring forts for a look (Kathy is in the doorway). These
were built sometime in about the year 1,000 and probably housed a local person of
importance. According to our guidebook there was supposed to be some "beehive huts"
nearby but we couldn't find them. The common folks lived in them. Round huts of
stacked stone tapering in at the top and shaped like a beehive.
Much of the road was too narrow for a tour bus or a semi-truck to stay in its own
lane. The driver would have the left wheels on the very edge of the road and the
right wheels would be on, or over, the stripe. This Toyota SUV (which is well above
average for vehicle size in Europe) had its whole right side wiped by the bus in
the background. It really tied up traffic because there is no alternative route
and they didn't move the vehicles until the police (the guy in the green vest) arrived.
That night we camped at the town of Blarney in a nice campground overlooking the
town. Blarney is a small town (the locals called it a village) that is quite tourist
oriented with upscale shops and pubs in a "quaint" downtown and, of course, the famous
castle. The castle is situated in a large landscaped park that includes some Druid
stones and a nice stream.
The stone itself is at the very top of the castle on the wall facing left in the
picture above and in the center of the far wall in this picture. The interior floors
have rotted away many generations ago and now the castle is a shell.
Yes, we both kissed the Blarney Stone (and that's no Blarney!). The stone is below
the level of the parapet that we were walking on. You have to lay on your back,
hang onto two steel rods and slide headfirst down into a hole in the edge of the
parapet. A hole that that hangs over the outside wall of the castle. The Blarney
Stone is set into the bottom of the wall surrounding the parapet. There is a helper
there to lift you back to a sitting position and as you are laying on the parapet
and bent over backwards almost 45 degrees it would be difficult to sit up without
him. There is a steel grate to keep you from falling to the stone path four stories
below if you slip, but the view (upside down and headfirst) bothered several people.
Later that day we headed across Ireland to be ready for the 0900 ferry back to England. But
first we stopped at the Waterford Crystal factory in Waterford. I think we have
found a clock for our new house. Now we have to figure out how to carry it until
we come back home!
This time we took the big ferry and the seas were much calmer and I worked on these
web pages the whole way. Next is the British Treffen and it's only about an hour
from the ferry.