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On Friday we headed towards Belfast stopping along the way…. First- Kells (the origin of the Book of Kells ) then onto Loughcrew Cairns -- a short but steep hike and those who made it were rewarded with some wonderful shots of a burial chamber with lots of engravings. Lunch was at Fitzpatrick’s Bar and Restaurant , a quaint establishment with great food and fun décor. After lunch, we traveled along the east side of Ireland, stopping in Carlingford – where we found King John’s castle along with other ancient structures .
Saturday morning we had a tour of Belfast with Bibi as our guide. We started out from city center toward west Belfast and the well-known murals along Falls Road and stopped briefly to photograph the Belfast Cathedral. Afterward, we headed east to the docks, and then on to Parliament and the surrounding garden. We had a few hours on our own (many of us enjoyed lunch at the historic Crown Bar) before we took a drive to Grey Abbey. This spectacular ruin has a cemetery next door – both were great to photograph, even with sometimes challenging lighting.
On Sunday we headed to Letterkenny stopping at Carrickfergus . This town is the oldest in the county, and is named after a 6th century king. We continued to make seaside stops in Whitehead , Carnlough and Glenariff . We had lunch in Ballycastle before proceeding to Carrick-a-rede . I know some of us (myself included) were hesitant about the rope bridge (especially with the itinerary note “weather permitting”), but it was a great experience for those that did go across ! Onward next to the Giant’s Causeway – known to some as the 8th wonder of the world. What a beautiful and photo-rich site. The basalt columns are rather unique and the natural geometry is fascinating! Our next stop… Dunluce Castle . On to the Silver Tassie Hotel – where we shared a team dinner and LightRoom 2 presentation before turning in for the night.
On Monday we went to Derry/Londonderry. John took us around Bogside to look at some of the murals before traveling inside the Derry city walls. We headed out to walk the walls and had great views both inside and outside the city. We then headed out of Derry to a church near Five Finger Strand. This church appears to be Clonmany Parrish. We had our first digital review after dinner at the hotel.
The next day was spent traveling to Galway (the home of the Claddagh ), with stops along the way including Lord Mountbatten’s summer house (Classiebawn Castle ) along with some great horses! We then traveled to Drumcliff , where we had the opportunity to visit the cemetery where William Butler Yeats is buried. We continued on to the Tobernault Holy Well grotto in Sligo Co, where people once worshiped in secret but worship openly today. Further on, we entered the town of Knock , a well known Marian Shrine. We later arrived in Galway and checked into the Radisson on the waterfront of Lough Atalia.
The next morning we explored Galway city on foot, then headed out into the countryside of Connemara . We stopped at Connemara Marble Industries, Ltd. and enjoyed a lesson in marble from Ambrose. After a little shopping, we continued on our journey. Our next stop was the famous Kylemoore Abbey, the oldest of the Irish Benedictine Abbeys. A beautiful and picturesque spot – although we endured some rain, some were lucky to catch a photo with a double rainbow!
For our last day we headed out for our ferry to Inis Mor the largest of the Aran Islands. Once we arrived, we took a minibus tour with Dennis. He left us near the entrance to Dún Aengus . We hiked up to the top where the view is spectacular, and was a great point for a photo lesson. This was also the spot for our group shot. We realized a storm was heading quickly for us. As we tread down the aforementioned “treacherous walk,” the rain overtook us. We ended the trek with a final slideshow, a chance to see everyone’s shots from the week.
I had a spectacular adventure and would go again in a heartbeat. This was a great group to travel with, and cannot imagine a more enjoyable team!