Ranta and I both had Monday morning flights so we decided to travel up to Donegal and see some
parts of Ireland we've never seen.


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Steve picked up Luca and I from the Dublin airport on Sunday the 12th of Sept so that we could all
drive together to Limerick for our day of training. On the way, we stopped in a little town enroute
so that we could have Steve's first Irish breakfast. I took this shot of a neat house that is almost totally
covered in red ivy.


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I thought this sign at the bar was nice.


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We stopped again for some apple cider at a little town in Tipperary. I liked this sign about having your
choice between eating out or in.


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Once again, I stayed at the Clarion (or the big crushed cigarette as I like to call it). This is the beautiful view
of the metal scrapyard next door. Although it's too bad that a great view of the Shannon river is ruined with this
industrial site, it is quite a nice clock tower in the middle.


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Steve insisted we stay in Bundoran Friday night enroute to Donegal. After a long drive, we got into town a little
late, but the town that Steve thought we'd see was pretty much asleep. Our hotel owner said it was their slowest
Saturday since February so the high season is definitely over. Having said that, I really enjoyed this bar name.


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Okay, there's quite a bit of funny stuff in this sign, but what I appreciated is how much they don't like people wearing
track pants to the bar. I don't know why - they just don't like it.


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We drove around Bundoran on Saturday morning so that Steve could show me the highlights. Here is a beautiful beach - although it
was about 6 deg C and raining, so not a real beach day, but if you look out, you can see a whole pile of surfers. Apparently it was a surfing
competition so they were riding the waves despite the pour weather.


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I liked the heather and hills behind the beach.

Video of Surfing Contest in Bundoran



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Here is a surfer getting himself into the surf. Pretty dedicated surfers for sure. It sort of reminded me of Oregon surfers.

Donegal Castle


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Our next stop on our tour of the north of Ireland was Donegal. Here we found Donegal Castle (although again it's raining),
which is right in the middle of Donegal Town.


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Steve Ranta and Donegal Castle.


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Inside the castle were numerous data-filled signs about the area, the families, and the castle's history.


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This sign goes through the lineage of the O'Donnell family.


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A cathach (holder of translated Old Testament Psalms) has its origin in Donegal sometime in the 6th century. Pretty old stuff.
Of course, the original is in the Irish National Museum in Dublin.


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The inside of the roof of the castle is absolutely gorgeous and made of Irish Oak. Of course, this has been restored,
but it's still really pretty.


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The fireplace in the great room has the family coats of arms above the main fireplace, carved in stone.


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Leaving Donegal Steve spotted a Tim Horton's sign. Apparently the gas station serves Tim Horton's coffee.
It's funny since I downloaded the app 'Timmy Me' and it told me there were no Tim Horton's in Ireland.

Slieve League


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Our intention for Saturday in Donegal was to get out to the Slieve League and see the cliffs to the ocean.
Unfortunately, as you can see from Steve's urination photo here, the fog and the rain was pretty 'in', so our
visibility was a little light.


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Steve and I did a short hike to the top of the small hill in the area to get a better look at the
cliffs. However, the fog didn't clear at all. This is Steve leaning into the wind coming around the
top of the hill.

Video of Steve at the top of the Bunglas area



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Looking down to the water from about 250m was still pretty cool, even if we could only just make out the
rocks in the water.


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As we descended, the sky started to lift a little bit. The cliffs here are a few hundred meters tall
and drop right into the north Atlantic, so they're pretty stark.


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A little more clear photo of the water line.


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I like the colour of the brush with the fog and the water.


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Steve Ranta looking out to the coastline. A note here that he didn't destroy a single Irish relic
on this trip, so maybe we're both getting older. He will turn 40 this month!


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A little better photo of the coast line and the cliffs.

Video of the Bunglas area once we're back in visibility



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This area is actually called Bunglas, but the total area is called the Slieve League for whatever reason.



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There are no shortage of sheep in Ireland. What was striking about this guy was that he had no paint on him
AND he was basically right at the cliffside.


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This is right outside Ranta's driver's window.


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I like the name of this fast food shop.


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Shockingly, Steve and I peed all over this great country. This is the furthest west point in the country I think.



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These small terraces drop down to a pretty nice looking beach. Note the sheep even here.

Northern Ireland


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I convinced Steve to drive up to Northern Ireland the day after we watched the 'International Beer Festival' festivities
in Donegal. He's been there a pile of times, but I hadn't, so we drove up through Derry and into the North. There are a few
things funny about these signs. First of all, the Mactuckey's fried chicken is funny since it's clearly intended to be
Kentucky's knock-offs. The second thing I love here is the 'I love you' at the top of the 'Fab Kebab' sign. I mean, what does
this mean? Seriously.


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Our next stop on our tour of the north was Dunluce Castle, which actually turned out to be really impressive.
It's right on the water looking to the north to Scotland, and it was built for a Scottish lord and his wife who
really didn't like the water at all.


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We walked down to the water's edge before going into the castle itself. I liked the look of this rock wall around
the castle.


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The exterior wall of the castle remains although there is no roof over the whole place at all.


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Steve and I walked all around the castle and here he is inside a courtyard that would have likely been used for sheep.
The rock bridge connects the main part of the castle back to where the rest of the town would have been.


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I climbed up onto an exterior wall of the castle to take a photo down to the water level.


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A better view of the castle ruins looking out to the ocean.


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I think I like this shot better since you can see the rock wall that formed part of the natural protection
of this castle location.


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We then went into the castle to look at it from the inside. This would have been just outside the gatekeeper's
post into the castle itself. I really liked the leftover turret spot.


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This would have formed the interior of the great room within the castle.


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The view looking out the northeast turret.


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The view from the water's edge looking towards land. On the left of this photo would have been the
kitchen.


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Looking to the west from the castle, you can see a lot of beautiful coastline, but I really liked this
natural arch in the rock.

A video of Dunluce Castle



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This was the only photo I could take at the Bushmill's Distillery in Bushmills, Northern Ireland.
We did take the tour, but they did not allow photos at all.


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Our last big stop was the Giant's Causeway - a place Steve's been to a whole bunch. This is the view
looking down from the tourist info office. I ran down to the Causeway to check it out since it was
pouring and we needed to make time to get to Dublin.


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So, this whole tourist area is devoted to the hexagonal basalt columns formed right on the coast. I must say that
I was underimpressed since these are almost identical formations that we climbed on at Smith Rock as well as at
Broughton's Bluff in Oregon.


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The columns themselves were not really that large, but people were running all over them and they were running
just constant buses to check this out. As the story goes, the Giant built this causeway to go see a young
lady giant over in Scotland, which shockingly due to tectonic theory would have been at the same spot, and also
has the same formations. The funny thing is that this is the single largest tourist attraction in Northern Ireland.
Yup, that's what I said too.


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People walking around on the causeway.


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I guess they do go out to the ocean, which is somewhat cool.


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These were the tallest cliffs I could find in the area.


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Me and the Giant's Causeway. It was absolutely dumping rain, so my new toque from Beau's Brewery came in
handy for this quick jaunt.


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Looking up at the crack system, it does look remarkably like the upper Gorge at Smith.


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A nice view looking out to the point near the Giant's Causeway.


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Steve and I drove back via the Glens of Antrim, which was pretty cool. Here's a small mountain right at one
of the Glens.

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