24 /31-05-2008 IRELAND TRIP - THE STORY.

After we all arrived in Larne from the ferries we made our way to Drogheda to take in the battle of the Boyne. It was a pleasant drive down through Belfast, Newry and across the border.

One of the first things you realise crossing the border is the prosperity in this land, a massive change from some twenty years ago. The saltires were flying from our cars as we headed south, quite a sight for all onlookers. We arrived in the early afternoon and carried on to view the Battle of the Boyne ( CLICK HERE for details). That evening we went for a meal in Drogheda, some of us had kilts and plaids on and caused quite a stir from the locals.

The next day we had a long drive down to Mallow, County Cork so the stage was set with Alex Calderhead in the lead vehicle with his TOM TOM and David Bennison as his back up navigator, driving in convoy sounds simple but takes a lot of concentration from everyone as you enter busy cities and towns. The convoy was now some five vehicles and as we were circling Dublin, Jim Singer in the second vehicle was watching his rear view mirror as Alex in front of him turned off the motorway following the road signs to Cork, unfortunately Jim carried on past the exit. We phoned him and he had decided to take his own route to Mallow. The rest of the convoy carried on as we had quite a tight schedule to be in Mallow for 2pm. Thankfully though we arrived in plenty of time. Eventually Jim Singer had arrived too although he had done a real tour of Ireland to get there. Ted Christopher, David Ross, Ziggy and John had flown over to Cork from Prestwick and had been up all night, and were in bed when we arrived. We had to wake them after just 30 minutes sleep and it wasn't a pleasant sight as we were meeting Denis O' Donaghue at 2pm to go to the various events concerning Alasdair McColla. ( CLICK HERE for details of this).

A regular occurance the boys studying maps

Monday morning had arrived a good few had hangovers and this convoy was now some seven vehicles long with Denis leading the way, unfortunately he didn't realise how difficult it was as he drove through the country roads and then the wee towns. Five cars lost the two lead cars and we were all at sea, a lot of head scratching looking at maps but we hadn't a clue where Denis was heading. Never mind we eventually found each other and moved on to the rest of the days events. ( CLICK HERE for more details) At this point we must thank the locals for their splendid hospitality it was second to none but I am sure it will be covered in the other reports.

Tuesday we said cheerio to Ted, Big Davy, Ziggy and John as they were flying back to Prestwick and we carried on on our journey through Ireland. We headed for Galway via Limerick although we decided against entering the city as we would get totally lost in this convoy formation so we then made our way to the Cliffs of Mohrer instead. This was the only time we encountered a wee shower but it had to be the time we were out of the cars and observing the cliffs.

We had by this point driven through countryside that we were confused by, as instead of the old houses and thatched cottages the rural areas are littered by ultra modern large bungalows and houses all painted in a pastel yellow colour. We all agreed that if this wealth ever hit Scotland we would fight tooth and nail to keep our landscape and ancestrial buildings in tact.

From the cliffs we headed to Galway as everyone was shattered after two heavy nights on the Guinness and listening to the fantastic Ted Christopher. We eventually found the digs after one extra wee circuit this is due to Ireland having no postcodes so the TOM TOM has difficulties finding a specific house.

Wednesday morning we left the cars at the digs and used the bus to enter Galway City, it was great to be driven by someone else. This was a day to chill out so we went on the tour bus round Galway, visited the museum and had a wee swalley that encroached on a bigger one than first anticipated. The night was finished off by us frequenting a typical Irish pub with a fiddle and accordian hammering out all the Irish tunes. A great day and a wee rest from the hectic schedule of the last few days.

Crann Tara on the Galway City Tour Bus
A view down the river to Galway Bay
We seen a lot of these bungalows on our trip
Galway streets
Jim Singer looking for the museum
Spot the dummy ?
We were just trying the Guinness
The gang wander through the city

Thursday morning and we headed north towards Letterkenny but decided to visit an Irish bodrahn maker on the way, this was us travelling through the beautiful mountains of Connemara. The sun was shining and the scenery was spectacular. Juliette and wee Rab led the way just with a map no TOM TOM and they did a great job. Not forgetting the splendid work that Alex and David done on the previous days, although they took a wee bit of stick from us followers.

We called into the bridge at Barna, County Galway, that featured in the film The Quiet Man starring the late John Wayne. This is a beautiful setting and you realise why they chose this for filming.

The coastline was fantastic not unlike what you would see on the Western Isles, we all felt at home in this terrain. Below are some images we took on our travels through Connemara.

After Connemara we headed towards Sligo where we had a wee mishap, Alex had phoned Christine as they needed a toilet break and could we alert Rab & Juliette to stop. At this point we were the second car in the convoy approaching traffic lights, a van pulled in front of me and Jim Singer and Alex took the inside lane. When the lights changed I ended up at the back of the convoy. A wee bit further down the road we tried to phone Jim but his phone was off again, it was pointless phoning Juliette as her phone was down. So we followed and at that point Juliette and Jim overtook a lorry and sped on. We were losing ground but could do nothing about the situation as we couldn't get past this damned lorry. We travelled a lot of miles before I eventually passed him and put my foot down to catch the others and flash my lights so they would stop. They pulled in and Alex flew past us and after another few miles we stopped at a centre for our belated toilet break. By the way I am talking here around 20 miles.

We then approached Letterkenny and after finding our bed and Breakfast we had a meal and called it a day.

Friday morning Alex Calderhead & David Bennison went to the local information bereau to buy an Ordanance Survey Map of the area. They were looking for the site where the Battle of Glen McQuinn took place. After a few minutes it was decided that we would go some 5 miles south of Letterkenny and onto some rural roads and try to find the site. Alex & David had read the book and were sure we were there, but we couldn't be sure. At that a van stopped and we asked his advice, he phoned the local farmer who arrived on a quad bike with his son and a trailer with a sheep in it. ( Brian's eyes lit up) He pointed out some various points to us but then said the ideal guy to talk to would be Charlie Gallagher a blacksmith who has unbelievable knowledge of this battle. So the farmer Roy phones Charlie and he arrives so does another man called Samuel. Well Charlie stepped out of his car and said what do you want to know lads and away he went with an in depth talk about the whole battle. This was unbelievable how we had fallen upon this knowledge, but to have someone so accomplished on the subject to spend his time telling us all about it and showing us the actual battlefield site

I won't attempt to even start going into this subject because we have contact with Charlie and he has said he will write us a wee bit for the web site. Charlie has a blacksmith's business and makes a lot of swords & medieval weaponry he also does reenactments. In fact this is the second year of them doing the reenactment of the Battle of Glenmaquinn which will be held on 21st June 2008.

Visit Charlies web site Black Lion Crafts

Many thanks to Roy, Samuel and Charlie for all your help.

Site of the Battle of Glen McQuinn
To finish off the day we visited The Flight of the Earls, the small fishing town of Rathmullan witnessed a key event in Irish history - the end of the old Gaelic order. From this spot in 1607 a small ship left for Spain. On board were the chieftains of some of the leading Gaelic families of Ulster, incuding the O'Donnells and the O'Neills. Those chieftains who could not live with the new English order sought refuge with England's main enemy, with the hope either of making a new life for themselves, or of living to fight another day.
The impressive Statue at the Flight of the Earls.
Information Board at Flight of the Earls
Plaque to the Flight of the Earls
Rathmullen Castle
Stained Glass Window at Rathmullen Castle

After a really hot sunny day we decided to chill out with a wee carry out at the cottage where we were staying. The music was provided by Jim Singers CD player in his car plus a few pipe tunes from Jim to make all of us feel at home. Singer ended up being applauded by the Irish as he gave them a blast of the pipes from the pavement in front of the cottage. Jim awoke the next morning to find his car had a flat battery caused by the musical entertainment the previous evening.

Saturday had arrived, it was the homeward journey to the ferry in Larne. We split up at this point as Alex, Barbara, David Bennison, Christine and myself were going to Larne via the Antrim Coast. Jim and the rest were going to Carrickfergus before boarding the ferry.

The Antrim Coast was at its spectacular best with this glorious hot sunny weather. We drove along this picturesque coastline before we pulled into Dunluce Castle just north of Portrush. Alex and David Bennison went to look at this castle and enjoyed their visit very much.

After this we carried onto Larne and catch our ferry back to Cairnryan where we met up with the rest of the gang. Below are some images taken along the Antrim Coast.

This was a fabulous trip to the Emerald Isle very educational, Crann Tara would like to thank everyone concerned for the hospitality and friendliness we were shown. Also we have made good contacts and friends on our travels and thank you all in Ireland for your participation.

By David Murdoch

Back to Top

� Crann Tara 2006