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IRELAND   INFO & DIARY 1   2-23/8 2021

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 GENERAL INFO (Jump to Diary)
Ireland or more correctly; Republic of Ireland; Poblacht na hÉireann, is a country in north-western Europe occupying 26 of 32 counties of the island of Ireland. The state extends over an area of about 70,273 km2. Around 40% of the country's population of 4.9 million people resides in the Greater Dublin Area.

From the Act of Union on 1 January 1801, until 6 December 1922, the island of Ireland was part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. During the Great Famine, from 1845 to 1849, the island's population of over 8 million fell by 30%.
The state was created as the Irish Free State in 1922 as a result of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It had the status of Dominion until 1937 when a new constitution was adopted, in which the state was named "Ireland" and effectively became a republic, with an elected non-executive president as head of state.

The western landscape mostly consists of rugged cliffs, hills and mountains. The central lowlands are extensively covered with glacial deposits of clay and sand, as well as significant areas of bogland and several lakes. The highest point is Carrauntoohil; 1,038.6 m, located in the MacGillycuddy's Reeks mountain range in the southwest. River Shannon, which traverses the central lowlands, is the longest river in Ireland at 386 kilometres in length. The west coast is more rugged than the east, with numerous islands, peninsulas, headlands and bays.

Ireland has a small flora for a European country because of its small size, lack of geological and ecological variation and its Pleistocene history. There are 3,815 species of plant listed for Ireland.
Ireland is the least forested country in Europe. Until the end of the Middle Ages, the land was heavily forested with native trees such as oak, ash, hazel, birch, alder, willow, aspen, elm, rowan, yew and Scots pine. Today, only about 10% of Ireland is woodland, most of which is non-native conifer plantations, and only 2% of which is native woodland. Most are grassland and bog.

There are 26 different species of mammals in Ireland, among them red fox, hedgehog, stoat, badger, Irish hare and pine marten.
Over 400 bird species have been recorded in Ireland, although many are migratory. Arctic birds migrate here during the winter, while other birds like the swallow come here during the summer to breed.
Only one land reptile is native to the country, the viviparous lizard; Zootoca vivipara, while three amphibians are found in Ireland: The common European brown frog, Rana temporaria, the Smooth Newt; Lissotriton vulgaris, and the Natterjack Toad; Epidalea calamita.
Ireland has 375 fish species in its coastal waters and 40 freshwater species in its rivers and lakes.
There are an estimated 11,500 species of insect recorded in Ireland.

2/8 2021. The flight, car and hostels was booked in December, hoping the Covid-19 situation would allow me to go from 2/8 to 23/8 2021. Well, five days of quarantine forced me to make it 27/7 to 23/8, and then back, when an opening due to the new Covid-19 Digital Pass was introduced 1/8. Digital Covid-19 passport, digital Travellers Location Form, digital Boarding-card and an old and wellused passport: What can possible go wrong?

 A direct flight, find the car, pay additional €430, as I have no credit-card + €35, as I plan to drive through a corner of Northern Ireland. At five, I head straight out to explore, with hot tea in the mug. Ireland is significantly greener than Denmark, due to the ripe barley fields in Denmark, and the Irish grass fields. Here are huge, but gentle hills, little traffic and some huge forests. The only site of the day is the 121 metre high Powerscourt Waterfall.

It is a real popular picnic spot for local Indians, and an adorable spot. I left the sun in the airport, but here are still so beautiful. It reminds me of the better part of the Hobbit Shire (filmed in New Zealand). Besides from the high, but rather thin fall, here are some real great motives along the river. At first, the huge, semi-polished boulders, then ferns and old oak trees. A few huge Redwood and Araucarias blends in - badly.
I walk the area, but as the sun refuses to cooperate, I head on.

I'm heading for the south-eastern corner, for my first night.  I follow the major roads, as it is getting late, and I have 150 kilometres to go. It is through huge oak-trees, steep hills with sheep, old and tiny houses and huge hills. Even the big road end in a round-about, which seems to make op most road intersections in Ireland. While I write this in the evening, I realises: I have been driving in the right site - which is left, without thinking about it.

I reach Windy Acre; a real cosy house, right next to the sea at eight o'clock. My host make tea, and I prepare some instant noodles and start the usually work with photos, diaries and planning for tomorrow. I sit in a cosy couch, facing the sea and garden, and here is not a sound! Powerscourt Waterfall.

3. It is a sunny morning, and I skip the breakfast to get an early start. I head back north, but this time by the narrow, twisting back-roads. The road leads through a few minor villages, and it is tempting to do a stop, but I have a lot scheduled for the day. Where I did have some difficulties with the Icelandic speed-limits, the Irish are ridiculous. No way, I can enjoy the landscape and drive 80 and 100 km/t on these narrow, twisted and hilly roads! To spice things up, deer and sheep use it too.

The first site is found in some lovely nature - well, Glendalough is nature! The road passes a mirror lake, and find its way into a narrow valley, with a lake and steep mountain sides. The sun did not follow me into here, but it still look so great. Besides from two girls skin-diving, I have it all to my self and the birds. I try to capture the magic, but the light don't work for me. I make so many photos, just alike. It was so dazzling to walk, such a disappointment to see the photos.

The lake and river, leading to it, is almost like cola; filled with tannic acid and other organic matter, but crystal clear. The big trees are from birch to oak, and I do a rather big loop in the fores,t on the steep hillside.
An old church is found halfway up, with single-rock crosses in the graveyard. The walls are overgrown with small ferns, the ground with large ones. I follow a boardwalk from the upper lake to the lower, through some swampy bushes, but don't find anything new.

The next site is The Old Military Road; R115, leading through bog, heat, heather and endless ferns at the highlands at 500 metres. Pretty soon, I reach Glenmacnass Waterfall, which is a steep cascade. It is found in the high end of a lovely valley. Another cola river feeds the waterfall, draining the bog and heather lands.

It is truly a twisted road, leading over these high grounds, and besides from a few sheep, I see none. A single area is dominated by conifers, which seems strange here. It seems like the road continues forever, making narrow turns, gathered in huge turns and bends. The sealing is bad in many stretches, and eventually, I turn south again.

The next time I stop, is at Altamont Gardens. The house is nearly a ruin, but they don't charge for the entrance. Here is a small romantic garden, which leads to a beautiful lake and some rather undisturbed nature. I make way too many photos of the lake, and it is not even sunny!

I follow a small creek, finding its way through the huge, moss-overgrown boulders, all the way down to the huge river. Cross the fields and temple, back to the lake, where the sun finally finds its way.
Next to the show-garden is a nursery, but real old-school and cosy. The orchard is walled, the glasshouse a wrack and is it just so idyllic.

Back at the car, I find a scratch from another car, which have come while I've been here. Well, I have paid insurance! And one wheel-cap vanished real fast, just as I had picked up the car. 

It is a short and nice drive to the around ten houses, making up the village of Clonegal. First, I stop to make  a photo of the so typical Irish bridge, and only then, I realises I'm in the middle of the village. Here are an Inn, a bistro, a hardware-, and a food store along the church and a few domestic huts.

Wexford Town is called a "maze of medieval streets", and I give it a try. It is! Endless narrow streets with numerous colourful, small shops, cafes and people. I make a big loop through the streets, pass the church and down by the harbour. Then I figure I probably was supposed to pay for the parking, and returns. Seems like I got away with it.

My guidebook claim Tintern Abbey is a "do not miss" sight, and I better not. It is found where a fjord meets a large river, surrounded by lush nature. I follow the river into the fjord, and then find the church-ruin in the forest. Well, it was nice to see, but I could have missed it.

Down on the Hook Peninsular, the world's oldest light-tower is found. The entire area is "pancake-rocks" and they are filled with huge limpets. The sun is back, and it is actually warm! The roads are lined with stone-walls, some of the houses deserted, the rest real cosy. Here are, as so many other places I have been in Ireland, quite some huge Yuccas.

I see the light tower and the rocks at the sea, but it is getting late. The last three sights were planned for tomorrow, but my new host wants me to check-in before 15. It was 14-22, but 15 is of cause in-between there... I have seen so much today, and I really enjoy the Irish nature. I have 300+ photos to prove it. Day 2.
                                             It is time to open Diary 2 and the southern Ireland.

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