2008 Ireland Tour
Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
This whole thing came about back in mid December 2007 when a site I subscribe to sent me an email notification about cheap flights with RyanAir. A quick visit to the web site confirmed that it would be possible to get a return fare including all airport taxes for just £10. Too good to pass up.
Having covered the entire mainland bar one point which I *will* get around to, but none in the Emerald Isle a plan began to take shape. Never mind going and doing a point or two, what if I could go and ALL of them? In one single visit.
I spent a good few hours with the confluence map for Ireland and my SatNav unit working out realistic travel times from point to point. I have a friend who went there last year to play golf and he warned me about the road network. Lots of narrow roads and the quality isn't fantastic. On the bright side, no speed cameras!
Eventually I settled on my itinerary, it would involve all 11 points in Ireland and both of the points in Northern Ireland, total distance to travel would be in the region of 2250 miles.
With the decision being made that it was practical, I left the decision about it being sensible for another day and went ahead and booked the flights. No going back now.
The next decision to be taken was accommodation. I considered travelling around and staying in small guest-houses or bed & breakfasts. My itinerary would have to be flexible to allow for any difficulties encountered at various points so I couldn't really commit to being in any one town on any one day.
Those that have followed my visits to the CP's in Scotland will know that for our holidays we favour hiring a cottage. This seemed like a practical solution. Base myself somewhere then just drive when and where required. A bit of googling turned up Shamrock Cottages much time was spent here trying to find the 'best' location. Factors considered were size & cost - after all I was the only one going and of course location. Eventually I decided upon this one.
It seems that most people's view of Ireland is either Cork or Dublin, with thousands going there for hen or stag weekends. Those cities are like many others around the world. What all those visitors don't know is that once you get out into the countryside it is very much still a rural farming country. This cottage was a mile down a single track road. The water supply was a well in the adjacent field - pumped in. No television reception and patchy mobile phone coverage. The perfect antidote to modern living.
Eventually the day came around and I set off for the airport. I pre booked priority boarding and got seat 1A! It's a short hop from East Midlands airport to Cork, just about time to get up and down really. I have travelled a fair amount and usually fly into bigger airports than Cork. Let's put it this way, this is the first time I have ever stopped on the runway, done a 'U' turn and taxied back up the runway to the terminal....baggage collect, customs, car hire and on the road in 15 minutes. Sometimes small just works you know.
This point was on the way to the cottgae (well sort of) so I decided to fit it in and get one chalked up early on.
My notes for this said "may be in a back garden", prophetic words indeed. The weather was stormy with gale force winds and drivng rain, oh well....one problem seems to be that the map in the SatNav doesn't match reality on the ground by about 400 yards on the minor roads???
It's less than 30 miles from the airport and some 50 minutes later I pull up outside a lovely bungalow. The cp is indeed in the garden. nothing ventured nothing gained so I went and rang the doorbell. I was asked in out of the rain and explained what I wished to do. No problem at all. If the owner hadn't been busy preparing a quote for a large job we would have had tea & biscuits while I told him about the project.
Into the back garden and get to the exact point, bingo! Job done, the first true successful visit here. The relatively poor picture quality reflect the very poor weather conditions. Off to the cottage to dry out and prepare for tomorrow.
Continued at 52N-09W