Sunday, October 20, 2013

A quick trip to Ireland...

On Monday we returned from our second trip to Ireland.  We had a busy week.  We have driving a lot this month - about 1200 miles so far.  Last Tuesday we drove to Dunfermline to learn more about that town.  This is where a number of my ancestors came from.  The real reason we went was to visit the local knitting shop.  Carolyn is filling her evenings with knitting and now we look for knitting shops in every town we visit.  When we were in California we would look for quilting shops in our travels, now it is knitting shops.  Dunfermline is about a 20 minute drive from our flat.
This is the main street in Dunfermline.  It is closed off to traffic and each Saturday they have  a street fair of different vendors and food.


Wednesday morning we left about 7:30 and drove to Cairnryan (2 ½ hours) to catch the ferry to Belfast.  I am still amazed at the load this ship (or is it a boat) carries.  You really can’t appreciate the size of things from these pictures.  There were a lot fewer passengers on this trip than we experienced in August.  You could tell that the tourist season and “holidays” were over.  (People here don’t go on vacation, but rather they go on holiday.)

You can't tell from this picture how large the ferry really is.  this is taken from the staging parking area.  The ramp goes up to deck 5 and that is where the autos are loaded.  There were probably 50-60 autos in August.  Probably only 35 this trip.  To the side of the ramp is a truck with a blue tarp following  a semi into the hull of the boat.
This is the staging area for the trucks and buses that are waiting to be loaded.  There were probably 20  trucks and buses on this trip.
On the drive over Carolyn tried to take a picture of the road to show how narrow the roads are in Ireland.  For most of the side roads the hedges are grown high - maybe 10-15 feet and there is no shoulder to the road.  The speed limit on these roads is 100 km per hour.  That is about 60 miles per hour.  When the big semi trucks pass it can be quite exciting. 
Our hotel in Galway sat right on the river which flowed into the sea.
We arrived in Belfast and drove to Galway and arrived about 6:30.  (The SatNav (the Garman GPS) took us about ½ hour out of our way by taking us on what appeared to be a “shortcut”) We found a real nice hotel right on the water in Galway.  I really like Galway.  It is a lovely town.  On Thursday we did a career workshop.  We had 6 people attend.  One thing we experienced this trip is the variety of immigrants in Ireland.  Of the six people in the workshop, one was from Latvia, one from Brazil, two from Ireland and two from Denmark.  In other towns we had people from Nigeria, Kosovo, Zimbabwe, Netherlands, US, and again Brazil.  People immigrate here because of the generous welfare benefits.  They don’t realize the level of unemployment but are surviving (barely) on government assistance.  Work is hard to find for “career” positions.  There are entry level jobs available.

We left Galway at 6:30 a.m. on Friday and drove three hours to Tralee.  There we did another workshop and then a youth activity that evening.  We met some very talented and impressive young people who are geared to do what is necessary to get into university. 

Saturday morning we left at 7:30 a.m. and drove 2 hours back to Limerick.  There we did one-on-one sessions with four individuals helping them with writing their CV, interviewing help, and networking.  That evening we did another youth activity.  Sunday was church in Limerick and then a four hour drive back to Belfast to catch the ferry Monday morning.  We arrived back in Edinburgh on Monday about 4:30 p.m. 
It was a quick trip with lots of meetings packed into a short time, but it was a very rewarding trip.  We met some wonderful people and will be helping them via phone and email until we can return again.  We are planning to return the first week of December and do similar meetings in Cork and Waterford.  I am planning at this point to add a few days to the trip for some sightseeing and also to swing back to the three towns we just visited to follow up with a few folks.
This is a picture of our room set up for the youth activity Saturday night in Limerick.


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