Having completed all the counties for the UK mainland last year, the obvious next target was to ‘colour in’ the six Northern Ireland counties. No visit to Ireland would be complete without including Europe’s First GC43 placed in June 2000. Our previous oldest cache was GC40 in Belgium placed in July 2000. Wait a minute! Why is the number higher for the older cache? This is because these old caches pre-date Geocaching.com which started in September 2000. Before this the caches were listed on an assortment of bulletin boards and they were added onto GC.com over a period of time. Anyway, that’s history!
Not far from GC43 is Ireland’s second oldest cache Kyle Cache 1 GC322 dating from February 2001. Considering its proximity to Europe’s First (only about 4 miles away), this cache has had a surprisingly low number of finds.
Right! So we knew we wanted to go, but when? Although Beth and Steven would have been keen to visit Ireland with us, they probably would not have been too keen on all the driving we had planned. Beth was due to go to Scotland with Explorers so we decided to arrange a trip to coincide with that. Then Steven told us he was going on holiday with his girlfriend and wouldn’t be back until the Monday so we decided that we could go to Ireland Monday to Friday and Steven would then be home to look after the dogs for us.
Monday 30th July
|Cachemobile for the week|
Had to set our alarms for 3am to give us enough time to get ready and get to the airport parking and to the airport for our flight at 07:55. I really wasn't looking forward to the flight, I always suffer with my 'aeroplane ear' for a few days after a flight and after a flight to Turkey one year when I had a bad cold the pain and deafness was was quite bad so whenever we fly I always dread it, this on top of a general fear of flying, I just really hate the sensation of flying and have constant images of plane crash movies running through my head during the flight like 'Alive', 'Cast Away', Con Air and worst of all Final Destination!!...... Anyway we arrived in Dublin safely after a very short flight at 09:00 then it was on the shuttle bus to Hertz to up a VW Golf hire car and headed straight to the two old caches. Done!
Then we started looking around for a McD's for coffee and to use their 'facilities', my app on the iPhone said there was one nearby in Bray but we drove around and couldn't see it, eventually we parked up and asked a passer by and he pointed to the building next to us, apparently they're not allowed to display the usual 'M' sign as it's a converted town hall building.
|Posh McD's but where's the 'M'|
Beautiful day and lovely hot sunshine, let's hope it lasts.
One thing we noticed, wherever we went people were so friendly, couldn't do enough for you.
Then it was off to find the Travelodge Dublin Airport South in Ballymun. Looked a bit rough on the outside and the parking was through security gates underneath and you entered reception via a lift from the car park but once inside it was very nice, check-in was very quick and friendly and the room was very nice indeed, probably the nicest Travelodge room we've stayed in and we've stayed in a few.
|Travelodge Dublin Airport South|
Tuesday 31st July
The plan for today was to go to Belfast. We figured that we would just clip the corner of Armagh on the way and took a detour off the A1 to find Bernish View Point GC15NW9 - County Armagh – done!
After visiting Sainsburys in Newry (some nice ‘Brits Out’ graffiti on the walls in Newry) we rejoined the main road and continued towards Belfast bagging GC2Q6QE Pitt Stop on the way. County Down – done!
Arrived in Belfast and parked under the Victoria Shopping Centre in the QPark, quite pricey at £13.40 for the 5 hours but we were told that it was pretty much the same everywhere in the city. We were keen to see as much as possible in the short time we had there so according to Trip Advisor the top attraction in the area was the Belfast City Bus Tour so we haggled for tickets off a street vendor and got student rate tickets for £10 each then onto the bus we went. This was a very interesting and informative couple of hours and well worth the money. According to the track log it took us on a 24 mile journey around the Shankill Road area, Titanic quarter, Stormont, wall murals and the areas whose names we were familiar with from various news reports over the years. See Flickr slideshow at the side for more photos.
|Bobby Sands mural - said to be most photographed mural|
|Giant Titanic Airfix Kit|
Wednesday 1st August
Pinch and a Punch, White Rabbits etc......... We set off towards the Giant's Causeway in the pouring rain and decided to take the picturesque coastal route. Lots of places we passed through were displaying flags and Union Jacks but pretty sure the lamposts hadn't been painted just for the Jubilee.
|Beautiful Antrim Coast|
It rained heavily until we reached Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge at Ballintoy. Carrick a Rede is a a 30-metre deep and 20-metre wide chasm traversed by a rope bridge traditionally erected by salmon fishermen. It was extremely windy on the rope bridge so you needed to hold on tightly to get across safely. They say that no one has ever fallen from the bridge but many have felt unable to go back across and have had to leave the island via boat!! The cost was £5 each to go across the bridge so we decided to renew our National Trust membership whilst there as it had lapsed and this would also cover us for entry to the Giant's Causeway later in the day and any other NT properties we were planning to visit in the next 12 months.
|Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge|
Then it was on to the Giant's Causeway which we had been wanting to visit for a few years. It would normally cost around £8 each for adults but as we had just renewed our NT membership we were able to get in for 'free'. It was very busy with visitors to the newly opened visitor centre, in fact David Cameron had visited that day, we must've just missed him, oh well his loss - A truly amazing location but a little too busy with tourists for our liking, managed to find a few quiet spots to sit and ponder though.
Always keen to find YOSMs we headed towards one in the middle of nowhere. We drove about a mile up a forest track and parked about 0.2 miles from it but the terrain looked very boggy and there didn't seem to be any clear path through the spongy moss, pine trees and heather and without sufficient mapping we decided to give it a miss.
We did find a nearby cache GC2VEQP Gone Fishing #5 - Binevenagh Lake though and that was County Derry – done!
|Groarty House B&B, Derry|
Continued on to Derry arriving at our Bed and Breakfast at 19:30. Popped out for an evening walk along the Foyle and across the Peace Bridge in Derry.
|Peace Bridge, Derry|
Thursday 2nd August
As there was so much to see in Derry we decided to stay longer than planned and head back into the city and get tickets for a walking tour around the city walls and visit the Museum of Free Derry . A really good tour and John, our guide, made the tour very enjoyable with his interesting stories about the 105 day siege, the potato famine, Bloody Sunday etc. It was well worth the £4 each it cost and even came with a complimentary cup of tea or coffee at a coffee shop at the end.
|On 5/1/69 after a night of rioting and sustained police attacks on the|
Bogside these words were painted on the gable wall of 33 Lecky Road
- the wall remains today the rest of the street was demolished in 1975.
Afterwards we went into the Bogside area to see the murals and to look round the museum of Free Derry - £3 entry each. Very informative displays in the museum telling the true story of what happened on Bloody Sunday and during 'The Troubles'. It seemed really strange walking around an area that at one time would not have been safe to, you would only have to accidentally have taken a wrong turning and that would've been the end of that
|'The Death of Innocence'
Mural of 14-year old Annette |
McGavigan caught in cross-fire in 1971.
She was the 100th victim of 'the Troubles'
Then after leaving Derry around lunchtime we headed back towards Dublin via GC3QWWV The Swinging Bridge
That was County Tyrone – done!
GC1ZWRF The Big Giant and the Little Giant.
The last of the six NI counties Fermanagh – done!
Arrived back in Dublin and went straight to our Travelodge a lot later than we'd originally planned. The guy on reception has to be the most miserable receptionist we have ever come across when checking in to a hotel, not unfriendly just purely functional. The room was clean but is definitely the smallest hotel room we've ever stayed in.
|Smallest Travelodge Room ever!|
Friday 3rd August
Dropped off the hire car and then went for a walk around Dublin. We had planned to visit GCJKTN Gardiner's Treat (the other webcam cache in Ireland!) but as it was chucking it down with rain my iPhone was getting wet trying to bring up the webcam so we called upon a caching mate, Gaz_Zippy, who kindly saved the webcam image for us. Then we carried on looking around a few of the sights but decided to head to the airport a little earlier as the rain was quite heavy so it was onto the Aircoach and back to Dublin airport ready for our flight home at 3pm.
Looking back I'm amazed at how much we fitted into the 5 days, we visited some very interesting places and met loads of friendly people, what a great place to visit. Now where to next...............