Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mahon Falls (continued)

Bret’s co-workers invited us to join along on a hike yesterday.  I spend a lot of time with myself these days, so I, especially, was excited for the chance to get outside and take in the lovely Irish scenery with some good company.

Sunday turned out to be a bit rainy.  In case any of you look at the pictures we post and think it is mostly sunny in Ireland.  It is not.  Those pictures always make it to the blog because the best pictures come in the rare minutes during which we have some sun.  Rain coming down in sheets is a much more common weather event.  Downtown Cork, which is just a few minutes from our home has flooded twice since we’ve been here:

Further flooding in Cork city as River Lee bursts banks

So all the rain turned what is normally a modest Mahon waterfall into a spectacular sight (see Bret’s pictures here).


The yellow circle is the actual Mahon Falls.  The green circle is another huge waterfall that our local guide, Chris, said he had never seen before.  The blue circle is the waterfall that grew out of the trail we were supposed to take up to the top.

Needless to say, there was a little too much water for us to get across and take the trail to the top, so we went plan B.  Hike across the ridge from the next valley over


and then back on the side of the ridge that faces the waterfalls.


That second part sounded a little terrifying to my vertigo (did I mention that it was quite windy?), but it seemed like a nice alternative.

and it was.




The red of the heather and the green of the grass and rushes made the landscape really vibrant.  Bret commented at one point that he felt like everything he was seeing was in the vivid mode (my favorite camera setting).

The white dots everywhere are sheep, by the way.  It turns out that our whole hike (and most other hiking in the area) was on private land.  The farmers just allow folks access.  Our hosts related that some farmers are more friendly about it than others (for instance, if you bring a dog which is only rarely allowed, some farmer will just shoot them).  I can’t even imagine how this would work in the US.  I am guessing that lots of ankles get twisted coming down those hills and those are some steep cliffs with only good sense to protect you from falling over the edge. However, the sheep generally keep to themselves, so I don’t think it bothers them too much to have hikers milling around.


All in all it was a fantastic (but very wet) day.  We got just enough glimpses of the incredible views that we were missing from the clouds, that we have already put this hike back on our to-do list for when the weather gets better.

My favorite picture from the day….  ghost sheep.


Toward Bandon

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One, that hill is much steeper than it looks…


Two, there was a car trying to pass me and Bret was in the middle of the road trying to take my picture…


Three, I didn’t want to lose any speed because there was another steep hill…

And then it started to rain, so we cut our trip to Bandon, Ireland, sister city to Bandon, Oregon, short.  For another time…

Dublin… some more

Some more of Bret’s pics.

Literally, we were a step away from going to Octopussy’s.


Our B&B (it was ok, probably won’t go back)


The Bloody Stream


yes, I had a Galway Hooker at the Bloody Stream.

Scenes from around Dublin.

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The conference.


Some pf my pics:

I might have an obsession with all things chicken


and this guy.

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Bret had a conference in Dublin, so I tagged along.  We took the bus up on a lovely Thursday afternoon and settled into our hotel, the Anchor B&B.

That evening, Bret’s colleague, Rob, joined us for dinner and few pints at the Porterhouse, the Dublin branch of one of favorite Cork pubs.  Microbreweries are a relatively new thing in Ireland, but they are popular with the young folk.  We were pretty lucky to get a table without a wait (think Block 15).  They serve an IPA that actually has some hop to it.

It turned out we were right in front of the stage, so we had great seats when the live music commenced just after we finished our meals.  Bret’s picture of the stage from our dinner seat:


We wanted to branch out a little from the familiar, so we also went to another pub, Farrington’s Pub, before heading for the night.  It was ok… nothing to write a blog about.

Friday, Bret was at the conference, so I had the day to myself to wander aimlessly around Dublin.  The sun was shinning, to boot.  The River Liffey flows through the heart of Dublin separating North from South.  The northside has a reputation for being the rough side… although there doesn’t seem to be much in the way of social class divides ( there are some pretty posh suburbs and shady blocks on both sides of the river).


Anyhoo,  U2 does a cover of a Christy Moore song about the cultural divide if you are interested.  I tried to look up the origins, but all I could find was that most people think that one side or the other is full of knackers.

North and South of the River

Bret met up with me late in the day and we wandered over to the Guinness Brewery.  We figured it was standard issue tourist destination and we wanted to oblige.  For anyone who is coming to visit, I would caution that this tour amounts to a VERY expensive pint of Guinness with an incredible view of Dublin.  The place is really just a seven story museum of the history of Guinness Beer.  If your into looking at pictures of the wives of past CEOs of Guinness, you may get more out of it that Bret and I did.  You don’t actually get to see the brewery at all, but there are some fancy exhibits…  we could tell why it was so expensive.  That said, if it is a nice day (which it more or less was… cloudy, but not raining), the Gravity Bar on the top floor has a 360º view of the Dublin and a “free” pint of Guinness.  It may be worth the hefty admission just for that perk.  Also, if you want to wait in a long line, you can learn how to pour a pint of Guinness.  We opted out of that experience.  We actually ended up taking our pint to another location after taking in the view, so we could sit while we enjoyed our beer (the gravity bar was super crowded).  The view was still pretty good.


After the tour, we decided to celebrate our two month anniversary by splurging on dinner.  We ate at the Winding Staircase, a lovely restaurant that doubles as a bookstore by day.  It was the first restaurant we have been to that had an Oregon wine on the wine list, so we were pretty happy.  A Firesteed pinot noir.  It was a little too spendy for a wine we can drink at home for a reasonable price, so we went Italian instead.  The food was delicious! We also really like the ambiance and our expat American server/sommelier.  I will recommend a visit to this place when guest are in town :).

Saturday, we decided to head north of Dublin to the coast town, Howth.  The weather was threatening to let lose, but we decided to brave a hike around the head anyway.  On our way to the trail, we passed by a former home of W.B Yeats.  Our amazing friend, Lauren  (who is coming to visit in June!!!),  read a poem of his at our wedding.  This very same poem was quoted on the plaque commemorating his residency at this home!

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The hike was fabulous!  These are Bret’s pictures from the hike:

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It was also a little terrifying at times (I have pretty intense vertigo), reminded me of some fairly shady hikes (and drives) to study sites in southern Oregon when I was doing field work.  Those cliffs are pretty high up there and the path goes right along the edge.  Also, it was quite windy (I swear I am not a wimp).

After our hike, we rewarded ourselves with seafood at the Oar restaurant.  We were a step away from eating at Octopussy’s, but went with the Oar.


Bret had fish and chips that he rated in the top 1/3 of Fish and Chips he’s had and I had pretty yummy Mussels and frites.  mmm.

The bar next to the train station in Howth is called the Bloody Stream.  We had to stop in and have a pint, so we watched the Ireland vs Wales Six Nations Rugby match and had a pint before heading back into Dublin.  Go Ireland (we’re 2-0)!!!

Back in Dublin, we met up with my cousin, PD for dinner at Enoteca delle Langhe.  I was a little skeptical about this place when I read the menu, because it seemed like they only had meat and cheese platters.  Luckily, we found a small pasta section, and all three of us had really yummy, fresh pasta entrees that rated a 5/5 for both Bret and I.

We finished up the evening with a couple of pints back at the Porterhouse because, why not?

The next morning, Bret and took a nice stroll around Trinity College Dublin.  Bret took these pictures:

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yeah, the library was actually closed on Sunday.  So, we didn’t get to see the book of Kells, but the close up shot of the poster makes it look like we got in 🙂

After that, I jumped on a bus back to Cork and the kitties.  Bret left for the airport and a week in Plymouth for tank testing…  Super fun weekend.

Kissing the Blarney Stone

Just kidding.  Bret is against kissing the Blarney Stone for hygienic reasons and we didn’t even actually go into the castle, but we did ride our bikes up to Blarney.


you can see all of Bret’s pictures from the ride here:

The ride was really nice.  We had a lovely morning to start and a large hill to climb getting out of Cork.  Bret took this picture looking back at St. Finbar’s cathedral (our next door neighbor) from the start of the climb.



Our rest stop was the Blarney Woolen Mills.  Currently, the woolen mills remind me of an outlet mall.  There is the Irish shop (largest in the world), a kitchen goods shop, a cafeteria-style restaurant, a pub, and a hotel.  Historically, the site had been a woolen mill since the 1750s!  The original mill burned down and the current structure was rebuilt in the late 1800s.  The wool market took a big plunge in the 1960s because of the rise of synthetic materials and the mill shut down in 1973.  It was reopened in its current incarnation in 1977 by a man who had worked in the mill as a child.  We had a cup of coffee and bought Irish sweaters.  Bret took this picture of us at the wool mills with our new sweaters!


We then popped by the Blarney Castle for a peek, but did not go inside, and headed back to Cork on a quiet country road with amazing views.

my pictures from the parking lot at Blarney Castle



And Bret’s picture from one of the lovely vistas on the ride home:



Bike trip to Cobh

We got new bikes and decided to take them out for a short spin out to Cobh (pronounced Cove, as far as I can tell).  I have never seen the movie or read anything about the Titanic, but apparently, that is where the fateful journey last saw land.  The ride started well enough, mostly on a nice bike path.  It was quite windy, but we are tough.  We took a quick ferry across the west passage and rode into town.  We visited the Titanic experience (although, we didn’t actually go into the exhibit) then grabbed a coffee to warm up in town.  Getting out of town was a little more harrowing.  The streets are very narrow and steep getting out of Cobh and they progressively got busier and busier in conjunction with the weather getting worse and worse.

It was a good starter trip.  Looking forward to many more bike adventures.  We love the new bikes.

You can see all Bret’s pics at:

before the last 3-4 miles of riding on the double-carriage way (aka- highway) in the rain.


after riding in the rain on a double-carriage way


If I thought that driving in Ireland was terrifying…  Riding a bike on the highway in the rain gave me a whole new appreciation for the safety of golf-cart sized cars.