Our first full day in Ireland and it looked like rain. As one young Irishman said to me, Ireland’s a beautiful place but it would be even better if it had a roof! Well I guess you can’t be exploring the Emerald Isle without a shower or two.
Our first stop was at the tiny harbour of Skerries. The showers had receded and the sun shone, weakly, ever so briefly, but enough for us to take a photo or two of the fishing boats high and dry in the mud.
As a dinghy sailor for many years of my life, I’m always interested to see what types of craft people sail for pleasure and sport in any seaside village. Here, a few old style wooden sailing skiffs rocking gently in the shallows of low tide… a delightful scene.
Beside the harbour wall was the tiniest tea room we’d ever seen – called ‘Storm in a Teacup’. Nearby, a Pub Bar was called “Stoop Your Head” – both names showing that wonderful quirkiness of Irish humour that makes light of life… a quirkiness we are coming to enjoy more all the time.
In 2004, this village commissioned a sculptor to make several sculptures of the birds of the area – three little terns graced the green overlooking the sea.
Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay in Skerries all day, so it was back into the car to drive further north. Our route took us through the town of Drogheda – an old town filled with a mass of narrow one way streets that taxed our navigation powers to the full. Maybe we should have that extra exorbitant amount per day for a GPS! We finally found the M1 motorway and drove north to the small town of Newry to look for a Supermarket. By the time we got there we had crossed an invisible border into Northern Ireland. The money had changed from Euros to Pounds – and we had had to pay 30 Euros to the Dublin car hire company for the privilege of crossing that border.
The first shopping centre we found was housed in an old mill building – “The Buttercrate”. It was large but sold no butter – only clothing. We asked some ladies the whereabouts of a supermarket and were told, “Oh that’ll be in “The Quays.” Right – so where would we find that. “Oh in the town.” – accompanied by a wonderfully fluid wave of the arms that seemed to encompass the whole town. We paid the required £1 and ask a young lass in the car park lift where we could find ‘The Quays’. “Oh Oh Oh Um Um Um OOOH Sorry ” she said, accompanied by waving arms as she disappeared out of the lift at her car park floor. Right. Not much help there. So we drove out through the car park barrier and there, straight ahead of us was a set of traffic lights and on the other side of the road was a huge shopping centre – The Quays. And from there we bought A’s special no lactose milk, a thermos and some sandwiches for our lunch. And after driving round in circles in yet more interminable one way streets, we finally found the A25 which would take us east through the wonderfully picturesque countryside of County Down.
The road through County Down is indeed picturesque – rolling hills and green farms with stone walled fields. The Mountains of Mourne rose on our right but were quickly lost in cloud. We drove through one very depressing old mill town that seemed to have no redeeming features whatsoever before turning south to the sea. From there, we enjoyed a leisurely drive along the narrow coast road through small fishing villages and farming hamlets.
I had trouble for awhile getting used to cars parked facing the wrong way – should I be driving on the left or the right!
No gardens here to photograph!
A few geraniums graced the gate way to Ardglass Golf Course but flower photography was on hold for this day.
The views were all to the sea – or the tidal mud flats. It would be interesting to see this area at high tide.
This tiny stone bathing house was built at the turn of the 19th Century when Ardglass was a very fashionable seaside resort. But this was definitely not a day for swimming and we had a few more miles to go – it’s miles in Northern ireland – kms in Eire. It took me awhile to realise that – and to realise why other motorists were a bit bemused by my slower than usual driving through villages. I was doing 30 kms per hour instead of 30 mph. I have it all under control now!
Our destination for the day was Strangford – but our wonderful stay in that very special village with the delightful Peter and Caroline, Colman and all the staff of ‘The Cuan Inn’ is for another journal entry.
J and A