Friday, May 30, 2008
Day Two-Bray, Wicklow, Navan
Day Two, in Bray. We got up for a huge Irish breakfast, buffet style. After checkout, the boys decided we must hike up Bray Head. The first bit is paved but it quickly gives way to rough trail, parts gravelled, parts not. The trail goes on quite some way into County Wicklow; Ireland is chock-full of hiking trails. It was steep and demanded several inhaler puffs, but it set the pace of our vacation- lots and lots of hiking.
The top of the hill afforded a great view of the bay, of the Wicklow mountains in the west and of Dublin shining in the north. Bren hiked a bit further over on an adjoining peak, but Dan and I rested at the concrete cross set atop the hill. We hiked down and they had a coffee break on the beach before we hopped back into the car for Wicklow. We headed to Glendaloch, site of an ancient monastery founded by St. Kevin. The architectural details of the old church and the Celtic crosses on the burial grounds made for some great photos, with all the spring flowers in bloom. We walked around the cemetary and the monastery grounds for quite a while, and then we headed up the trail to the lake. The trail goes on for several miles, but we just hiked a short section. We hopped back in the car and drove thru the Wicklow Gap, now also known as The Braveheart Trail, because the movie was filmed in this area. It's funny how driving through the gap, you can recognize the scenery and picture Mel Gibson running on the peaks. I would have liked to visit Avoca weavers and Ballykissangel but you can't do it all.
We drove back up thru Dublin and headed out to Navan, the capitol of county Meath ("Royal Meath" as Nana would say) and home of my family. The B&B I had stayed at had just let it last room, but the landlady found us another B&B within walking distance of town. (I have no night vision & cannot drive well at night, so we either stay at a hotel with a restaurant OR a B&B in walking distance of dinner.) On the way down the hill, it was Bren's turn for a meltdown- he insisted we eat in the pub near the B&B, so we settled for bar food. Then we hiked downtown only to discover that the restaurant Kate and I had loved on a previous visit was not only still open, but had won numerous awards- so much for bar food! (The Loft- if you visit Navan, eat there!) We hit up the ATM and got out euros. We found the house Nana was born in in Corn Market and took the obligatory photos of ourselves there. The tanning salon is gone, and it is now a safety planning office. The blacksmith shop where Uncle Gus plied his trade shoeing horses and making ornate iron grave crosses (see his work in Athlumney and St Mary cemetaries) is gone. Last time we were there, it had been made into a dance club specializing in Beatles music. It was town down and rebuilt with apartments above and shops below. the cobblestone street is still there and the little tunnel leading into the marketplace is the same. Someone had spraypainted IRA in green on the wall, so the boys posed happily for that as well! The old post office is not a McDonald's- quite an interesting location. More public art has been placed in the area, including an interesting Neptune sculpture, and more apartment buildings and upscale housing developments built. A hiking and bike trail is now there right on the Boyne, and a little riverfront park. It's a town that's definitely conducive to walking, with lots of shops. The walk back to the B&B was pleasant.
We had a comfortable room, and Bren had never had a B&B experience before. Dan could not get his circadian clock regulated and was awake from 4 am with back pains- we nearly stepped on him since he lay flat on the floor to get comfortable. Someone called Bren on his cell phone in the middle of the night. It's not easy to get adjusted to multiple time zone changes, but it must be easier to do so on vacation than on business.