Candy: Sorry we have fallen so far behind in posting! Our last weeks in Galway were quite busy. Here is a post Tim wrote shortly before we left Ireland to return to the US. I have been busy working on the photos and writing the next couple of posts, which should be posted before long. Enjoy!
This week was another busy one, with me teaching basketball to the kids at St. Patrick’s Boy’s Primary School in Galway and training the boys from St. Mary’s, and Candy working on strategic planning with Ciaran and his staff at St. Mary’s. Also, both of us helped out at the Open Evening at St. Mary’s to help recruit first year and other students for next year. That was a big success and we were glad to have helped out.
Toward the end of the week we traveled to Dunshaughlin (pronounced “Dunn-shock-linn”) for me to help Ciaran coach the senior boys’ basketball team and Candy to watch and give feedback as well. Dunshaughlin is located northwest of Dublin, so it was a hike for the team to make this trip (roughly three and a half hours). After stopping with the team at the Enfield service area on the M4 to eat at Applegreen, we headed to Dunshaughlin following the St. Mary’s bus. Applegreen is basically like a toll service center would be on a toll road in the US. It had a Burger King, convenience store, coffee shop, and a deli area. We weaved through small towns and farm areas to finally arrive at the school.
The gym at Dunshaughlin had court lines that were not FIBA regulation, only had one locker room for three groups to use, and barely had nets on the rims. Candy and I have never seen anything like it for an actual game. Then, the home team made St. Mary’s boys shower last and did not offer any food or tea. Top it off with dirty and smelly restrooms…it was a disaster. That school could use some sport management help!
After the game, we headed north to Antrim, Northern Ireland, just northwest of Belfast. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, so we left one country and went to another in less than two hours. We also went from needing Euros to needing Pounds for everything we bought. We checked into our Holiday Inn Express room in Antrim, where I crashed and Candy went shopping at the local outlet mall that is apparently the largest in Ireland. The hotel room was tiny and did not meet the same standards as Holiday Inn Express has in the US. We ate a nice meal that evening in town, then hit the sack for a busy day of driving and sightseeing the next day.
We woke up, checked out of the hotel, and drove north to our first stop, the Dark Hedges. This area is a road that has huge, 200-year-old beech trees on each side of the road for about half a mile. The tall trees make a tunnel over the road, making it one of the most visited locations on the island. If you have ever watched “Game of Thrones,” this area is the King’s Road on that show. The pictures in the gallery will give you an idea of what this place looks like…pretty breathtaking. Here is a video of us approaching the Dark Hedges on foot and another video of us driving through. Just past the Dark Hedges we found another great tree tunnel. Here is a video of it.
We headed from there and traveled north to Ballintoy (here is a video of part of the drive) to visit the Carrick-A-Rede (pronounced “Care-ick-uh-reedy”) Bridge. It is a wood slat bridge that was originally used for the fisherman crossing from the mainland to Carrickarede Island to fish for salmon. It originally had only one rope for fishermen to hold onto as they crossed the slats, but thankfully now it is fully secure on both sides. That is a good thing, because it was 90 feet from the bridge to the water, so pretty far up there. It also was nearly a one mile winding and rolling hike to get from the parking lot to the bridge and Carrickarede Island. Candy took a video while we crossed the bridge.
After walking back to the car, we headed toward The Giant’s Causeway, which is one of the most visited sites in Northern Ireland and declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO. It is an area of about 40,000 interlocking basalt columns, the result of an ancient volcanic eruption. Legend has it that the columns are the remains of a causeway built by the Irish giant from Gaelic mythology, Fionn mac Cumhaill (Finn MacCool). Unfortunately, we were unable to visit the area because the parking lot was full and a huge number of cars were waiting to get in. We will visit during the week when we come back in the near future.
Right after this, we headed back to Galway via Bushmills, Coleraine, Limavady, Derry, Letterkenny, Donegal, Sligo, and Knock. It was a neat drive where we saw a lot of interesting scenery and more incredible Irish towns.
Hope you enjoy the pictures…keep a lookout for the next blog post coming very soon!