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IRELAND           DIARY  7

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From Diary 6 and the north, I now enters the central part - although from the north.
18/8 2021.
I start the day with Lough Glencar Waterfall, and the entire area is a treat! The green meadow with sheep, down to the lake, the river and the lush vegetation along it and the fall itself. Despite it is only 15 metres, it is quite impressive. I have it all to myself, but I would have love to share it with the sun.

The next stop is at Carrowmore Megalithie, which covers a huge area with 30 ancient burial sights. It is still closed, and without wellingtons, I really don't feel for the long grass, soaked in the rain. I see some of the megaliths and green hills from the road, and figure, I will get it covered during the day.

Actually, I head straight to Carrowkeel Megalithic Cemetery, but this is something completely different: No visitor centre, no huge parking lot. It is way out in the heather and hills, and the nature and views are indescribable! The sun still don't join in, but it is clear almost to the top of the surounding hills.

The trail is sealed, but with grass in-between the tracks at first. Then I pass a gate, and it turns into full grass for the next kilometres. The trail slowly works it way up to the hills and sheep, and it is fantastic. I actually think I am aloud to drive here, but if not; someone can try to stop me.

I pass a large wall of limestone bedrock, and the entire area is dominated by a canyon. I find the other side, and continues up. As I clear the wall on the other side, the views to the valley below reveals itself. A single field with harvest barley, and hundreds with grass.

I walk the last bit op to the white mounts. The limestone is almost marble, and it have been piled up on top of the burial site. Here is a fantastic 360 degree view to nature and distant farms. I am sure, I can see at least 50 kilometres in each direction. Where the green burial mounts were disappointing, these bight white piles of almost marble is astonishing. Now, I got soaked feet, but it was surely worth it.

I drive slowly down again, enjoying every meter and bend. Then I find a patchwork of small roads, leading to Fort of Crúachan. It is a large area scattered with over 240 ancient sights, 60 of them are national monuments. I start at the visitor centre, but the map they hand out, have a lot of text and only a map, smaller than a matchbox. GPS points would have been useful!

I see the two outside the centre, and head four kilometres out the main road to see Rathcroghan, of which they are most proud. It is huge, but only stands out as a green hill. I try to find the haunted cave of Oweynagat, but fails. But I pass Rathnadarve; A 2-3 meter vide and high Ring-Barrow of grass, which is 85 metres across. I stop at Rathmor; another ring, but higher. Then I pass a few other green mounts, but think I have seen enough of these by now.

As I somehow missed the tallest Round Tower of Ireland in my planning, I have to loop back a bit to the west. In Kilmacduagh, the round tower is 34 metres tall, found in an area with several ruins. It is leaning "2 feet", but else, it look healthy. It was probably build in the 12th century, and this one, they think should protect the monks, if they were attacked. Or perhaps the values of the monastery?

The grave yard is still active, and few of the graves have some odd green pebble. I think glass, but that can't be true? A guy is carving new letters into a gravestone, and I figure he know what it is. And yes, it is glass. Strange  thing to put on a grave; re-melted beer bottles....

I find some medium sized roads to Birr, and drive through a lot of forest. My notes about Birr say, here is a castle, but I had forgotten which! It is huge, and despite the Birr Castle itself is private home, the rest takes hours to see. The garden is not perfect, but it does have some nice areas with colourful flowers. And the romantic part is out of this world. Especially, as the sun just pops up for a few minutes.

Another feature it a suspension bridge, and it is the oldest in Europe. A huge telescope dominates another part. It was build in 1845, and was the world's largest in 70 years. The tube is 17 metres long, the mirror in the button 1,8 meter in diameter. I see the formal garden, follow the river, se the redwoods, the walled garden, the greenhouse and some other features, but I skip the science museum. The earls of this magnificent castle have been engineers, and I'm sure the science centre is interesting, but I'm out of time.

I do a loop in the town, which was described as elegant Georgian, but I've seen more interesting towns by now. I find my room for the night. It is located on an elegant farm outside Birr. Here is a winter-garden, right out to the descending sun and fields, and that is where I sit and work this evening. The late sunset behind the large Yuccas are real great too. Day 17.

19. I am now in THE CENTRAL IRELAND, and it is not that fare from Denmark - although more hilly and beautiful. But here are no bedrock and hardly any stonewalls. I enters a huge area, dominated by forest. One plantation have the tallest conifers, I ever seen.

As I head upwards through the Slieve Bloom Mountains Nature Reserve, it starts to be rather foggy. As I reach 460 metres and Cut Mountain Pass, I hardly see anything. I more sense the heather and surprisingly enough; plenty of conifers. I don't bother getting out on long walks in the fog and drizzle, but I do a few of the narrow gravelroad.
I reach the other end, and turns back in a V, seeing other parts of the area - kind of.

I pass through Tullamore, but it is a little to new, to be interesting. Then I reach Belvedere House & Gardens, and already at the entrance, I spot a great granite statue of a turf-farmer and his working horse.
I pay to get in, and make a long walk on the Earl's Trail. It first follow the large lake, then hit the forest. On a sunny day, it would be great. It is mainly beech, but real mixed.

Here are several "follies", one is the Georgian arch, the entrance is Ireland's biggest: Build to hide the main building from his brothers castle. Here are the old icehouse and on the serious side; the walled gardens and the little greenhouse.

The main building is open, but either the outside, nor the inside is that impressive. It is pretty much like it was left in the 60'ies, but most likely more empty.

My next site is a castle as well, but a serious one: Trim Castle. Well, it is a ruin, but a large one. Especially the outer wall is impressive. Several other building (-remains) are found in the larger area, one is the tall square tower - or whatever is left of something.

While I'm here, I do the little town as well. It have some nice buildings, and I finally get a photo of a butcher shop: Where I usually go, they have no cooling, and are just a rough table in the roadside. This one is fancy!

As this is one of my last days in the lovely Irish countryside, I do some small roads to my last site of the day; Brú na Bóinne: but only Newgrange. The area is even more like Denmark, it have barley fields, which have been just harvested.

It turns out, I should have bought the ticket another place in the large complex of historical sites, that make up Brú na Bóinne. Further more, they are fully booked for the day. Well, I can see the impressive ring-structure of Newgrange, and let it be with that.

The next cosy hostel is found in the larger city of Drogheda, and I find it right away as usually. Finding a parking is another case! I end up in a expensive P-house, but it turns out the hostel have one lot, in front of the house - and its mine!
It is only four, and I do a tour around the old centre of town. It might be big, but I see several huge tractors in the narrow streets.

The far end of the business street is more or less ruins. Several houses have Buddleja davidi growing on the walls! I have never thought brick-wall would make up a suitable soil for it. Down at the canal, things are just as depressing - but at the same time real romantic decay. After an hour, I'm home. Day 18.
                           I am now reaching the Dublin area, and that will be in Diary 8.

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