The Adventures of BJ and Tony Morris

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Shannon/Dublin, Ireland
February 2000
"Ireland Winter Walk Around"

Hi all. We did it again. Our second annual "Ireland Winter WalkAround".

As you may remember, BJ and I flew to Shannon last winter, bussed to Gort, then walked around the Burren region of Ireland. And walked. And walked.
The plan was to walk a couple of hours in the morning, stop at a convenient village for lunch and a beer, walk a few more hours and then find a village, dinner, beer and a B&B. The problem was, there weren't as many villages within reasonable walking distance as we thought. It was all we could do to get from "this" town, to the "next" town, before sundown...and that's with no stops in the middle. Bad planning on my part. And getting lost one day, in the Burren (rugged, rocky, remote farmland section) had us walking WAY too many miles early on, tiring us out and hurting our feet.

This year was different!! Plenty of GOOD planning on our part. We'd walk from Limerick to Dublin in a week! I studied the maps, found a route, (along a well-traveled road), plotted out our overnights, verified villages evenly distributed along the way, and even found that there were busses running along our route, in case we spent a little too much time pubbing one day. Here's a copy of our itinerary:

Friday 18Feb00: Leave Atlanta on DL128 to Shannon, Ireland, arriving
Saturday 19Feb00: Take local bus to Limerick, find a B&B/hotel and relax.
Sunday 20Feb00: Start walking, on Ireland Hiway N7, east towards Nenagh. Overnight Nenagh. (These are 20-25 mile days from here to Naas.)
Monday 21Feb00: Continue walking on Hiway N7 to Roscrea. Overnight Roscrea.
Tuesday 22Feb00: Continue walking on Hiway N7 to PortLaoise. Overnight PortLaoise.
Wednesday 23Feb00: Continue walking on Hiway N7 to Kildare. Overnight Kildare.
Thursday 24Feb00: Continue walking on Hiway N7 to Naas. Overnight Naas.
Friday 25Feb00: Continue walking on Hiway N7 into Dublin. I believe this is a short walk, so we will either overnight in Dublin or continue on towards Cloghran.
Saturday 26Feb00: Relax in the neighborhood of Cloghran, or walk Dublin to Cloghran. Easy day.
Sunday 27Feb00: Return to Atlanta on DL129 from Dublin, through Shannon.

We arrived in Shannon Saturday morning, as planned, after a short but restful BusinessElite flight from Atlanta. Beautiful day. Not a cloud in the sky and about 45 degrees. A short bus ride had us in Limerick by 1030. We walked around (with our backpacks), found a beautiful little hotel (Cruises) in a "pubby" section of town and checked in. Dumped the packs, headed back out and enjoyed Limerick...BJ's "scratchy" throat notwithstanding. Sunday morning we woke to overcast skies, no rain, and a fairly constant cough coming from BJ's side of the bed...and a runny nose. But being the trooper, BJ insisted that we head on out...which we did. Using the best technology available today (a twelve-parallel channel GPS with a map of Ireland to the Hiway-level), we immediately got lost, and spent about an hour, and three miles, getting back to where we wanted to START our day. Basically starting out for the second time that day, now at 1030 instead of 0930, we headed East, towards today's destination, Nenaugh. By 1330, we'd arrived at our first midday stopping point, about 1/3 of the way to Nenaugh. Well behind schedule, with BJ blowing her nose every 3 minutes, we enjoyed a beer and some soup in the village of Birdhill, then flagged down a bus headed for Nenaugh. Tail slightly between my legs, for getting us lost this morning, but glad that we planned to walk along the bus route, we arrived in Nenaugh, found a room at the Hibernian Inn (a B&B above a pub...Heaven!) and crashed for the day. A burger and beer then BJ headed to the room, earlier than me, but hey, I'm the man and I'm supposed to do this. I stayed up for another pint or two, then went upstairs to find BJ in bed, now blowing her nose every 2 minutes and still hacking away.

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Up bright and early Monday morning, starting our walk on time, BJ still miserable, but hanging in. After several hours walking, with the GPS telling me we are only averaging 1.8 miles per hour, we abort for the day in Toomyvara, and catch that (thankfully frequent) bus on to our day's destination Roscrea. We check in to the White House B&B, restaurant/pub, on the square in Roscrea, and BJ heads straight to bed. Turns out, she has been sweating "profusely" on this 41 degree day, while I have been quite comfortable. Sick as a dog, she is. A quick stop at a pharmacy yields some throat lozenges, antihistamines and nose spray...which lets her sleep, but doesn't "cure" the problem. Tuesday morning we decide to stay another night in Roscrea, and let BJ stay in bed to try to get over this. Roscrea is a nice town, with 5 pubs on the same square as our room, so I never have to venture more than 50 yards from the sick, but resting, BJ. Tuesday night, out pubbing alone, I learned a quaint Irish tradition. After a funeral, the friends and family of the departed go to a pub (I like this!). Then, they buy a drink for EVERY person that comes in (I like this too!). Well, I can't let a bought drink go by, without buying one back, tradition or no. And they can't either. Everybody was buying rounds for everybody. There's nothing like hearing an Irishman sing "I've got friends in low places" after Irish Mist, Guinness, Jameson's, and Carlsberg (more on THAT later). Several hours later I found my room, BJ still in it, but feeling better, and giggled myself to sleep. SOMETHING was funny, although for the life of me, I can't remember what.

Wednesday morning, BJ feeling better (although now I don't feel so good, for some unknown reason), but not wanting to push it, and a day behind schedule, we decide to bus straight to Kildare, bypassing PortLaoise altogether, but getting us back to where we should be time-line-wise. A quaint B&B in Kildare (Ms. Singleton's), just a block off of the 6-pub square, an early dinner after a few rounds and it's back to bed for the still under-the-weather trooper.

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Thursday morning found BJ feeling pretty good, a clear and cool day, and after a hearty Irish breakfast, we started walking on the shortest-planned day of the trip...a thirteen ("turteen") mile day, from Kildare to Naas. THIS walk turned out to be okay.

 00224003 Ireland, Tony & Animal.JPG (21988 bytes) 00224002 Ireland, Animal.JPG (29911 bytes) 00224014 Ireland, BJ & Sheep.JPG (13693 bytes)

We passed the planned lunch stop (Newbridge) right at noon, not hungry or thirsty and making good time. About 1330, we did stop at the Red House for a beer, then continued into Naas on-time at 1530. You wouldn't think you'd have trouble finding a room in Naas on a Thursday night. Neither did we...think we would have trouble. But we did... ended up staying at the Naas Court, a nice hotel in the middle of town, but a bit pricier than what we were accustomed to. We pubbed around in Naas, decided we'd try to head home Saturday, rather than Sunday (due to "circumstances") and headed to bed after a bit o'Guinness in the hotel pub.

Friday morning, after breakfast at the hotel, we bussed on into Dublin, headed to the Tourist Information Center on O'Connell Street, where they found us a room at the Ferryman (in the Docks section of town...not the nicest...and we were somewhat disappointed in the location.

00226001 Ireland, Dublin 26FEB00.JPG (51946 bytes)

Turned out GREAT, however, with the biggest evening crowd in any bar that we had experienced, and certainly the best barfood all trip). We managed to fit in one of the "planned" walking tours of Dublin, AND a stop at the Delta CTO, to change our pnr to show us returning Saturday rather than Sunday. (If only the agent had remembered to end-transaction! Oh well.) We returned to the Ferryman, dinner and beer, and then headed to bed (BJ still coughing and blowing her nose) and slept well.

Saturday morning found us up and out, on a AirLink bus this time to the Dublin Airport, where we learned that our meal listing was still showing Sunday, not Saturday (END TRANSACTION!!) According to the AerLingus agent, though, it wouldn't really matter since they were soliciting volunteers for denied boarding. Never one to panic (ha), we got on the standby list, headed to the gate, and took two of the last 3 BusinessElite seats available (no one was was just close). Home a day early, BJ to bed, our feet recovering. Sunday was spent relaxing.

Good plan. Good execution. BAD assumption on my part. Twenty to twenty five miles a day is somewhere between 15 and 20 miles a day too many. Based on the days we actually DID walk, we've decided that 6 to 8 miles a day would be great. Even the "turteen" mile day, while do-able, wasn't particularly pleasant. It was more like a forced march, just to prove to ourselves that we could do it. (I have ALREADY gotten out my Germany map, plotted out a Koblenz-to-Koln trip, with 10 KILOMETERS per day as the least three "dots with names" along the way each day...and it's downhill...or at least that's the way the river runs. Maybe this summer...if you're interested.)

Oh yeah...Carlsberg. Carlsberg, Heineken and BUDWEISER are basically the only lagers available these days in Ireland. For whatever reason, Harp is almost unavailable anywhere we traveled last week.


Tony and BJ