Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Europe and North America. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you here.
Éire is my country of birth and I still visit the place several times a year. Time has altered the reasons for doing so. My parents passed away in recent years and there is an inheritance to be managed and maintained. Other family reasons remain and I still wonder at the idea of combining that mix of business and social affairs with adding to what I already have seen of the place.
For a long time, I chided myself about how much of the island that I had left unexplored. To be fair, there were some good excuses. Any trip to Ireland had to involve family and they were not into hill walking. Still, they gave me my love of wilder places by taking me to Killarney, Gougane Barra, the Beara Peninsula and other such places. Mostly, these took the form of car driving tours with short stops along the way. That is very different from my usual format of an out and back journey by train or bus with a long stretch of time spent hiking in a smaller area.
All this developed in the nations making up Great Britain: Scotland, England and Wales. In some ways, I have seen more of these than I have of my own country and I now am exploring other countries around Europe. That may be happening but the idea of basing myself in Killarney for a few days tempts me. In the meantime, smaller explorations like a walk taking in Wicklow's Great Sugar Loaf, a flying visit to Kinsale and a stroll along the Great Southern Trail have happened. There is much about these that I would like to extend and being able to do so in my own time would be ideal.
One thing that I only recently caught myself doing was underplaying what I have seen already. For instance, primary school outings took me to Sherkin Island near Baltimore in West Cork and to various sights around Clare, Limerick, Dublin and Cork. The one to Limerick and Clare took in the Belltable Theatre, Craggaunowen and Bunratty Castle & Folk Park. When we went to Dublin by train, we visited its zoo and Kilmainham Jail. The trip to Cork took in Fota Wildlife Park, the town of Cobh and a boat trip around Cork harbour. That is quite a selection and there were other opportunities for seeing more of the island that I once called home.
School outings were not a major feature of my secondary schooling though there were trips to Knock in County Mayo that allowed a little time around the centre of Galway. Otherwise, it was the longer trip to France that facilitated a stop in Waterford as well as journeying through Wexford to Rosslare. There were outdoor pursuits trips to Connemara too but I never went on these. My love of such things had yet to develop and I tend to prefer solo explorations anyway.
Of all these, I only have fading memories rather than photos so it might be an idea to get recollections written down sometime soon. Maybe that is why I had overlooked them in favour of listing places around Donegal, Mayo and Connemara that I have yet to see. that much is true and there is more in Ireland's south-west that I would relish visiting. While trips to Ireland often get spent in other ways, it would do no harm to make time for some additional exploring of the place too.