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06/28 Dublin, Ireland

Today was a layover day in Dublin. We spent half the day catching up on our sleep. We were surprisingly tired. I guess it was the combined affect of the trauma of the car break-in and all of that follow-up stress, then the two days driving on narrow, curvy roads combined with the emotional trauma of Larry and Joan's heated discussion with us.

At 2, we headed for Dublin. We were going to take the bus, but we found out we needed exact change (L1.1) and they didn't give change on the bus. Then we remembered that we had a car -- so we took the car.

We drove through many different areas of town. Outside of the core downtown, Dublin looked like a typical working class city. In downtown, it looked like a typical mid-sized city. The main shopping street had been converted to a pedestrian mall and was quite charming. We stopped at a sidewalk cafe and had a sandwich, coffee and dessert. We didn't have time to do much walking around since we had planned to meet Larry and Joan at 6 to go out for a joint anniversary dinner, so we headed back to UCD at 5:30.

On the way out of town, we were stopped in traffic looking at a map when someone rapped on my window. It turned out to be the driver of the bus that was stopped right behind us. He asked us what we were looking for, then told us how to get to UCD. Good thing he offered to help. I was about to make a wrong turn.

When we met at 6, Larry told us he was just getting over a migraine and, as usual, had lost his memory. We suggested perhaps this was not a good night to go out to dinner. He and Joan agreed so we had dinner in the UCD cafeteria with the Odyssey group.

By the way, the UCD Cafeteria food was typical school cafeteria food -- AWFUL! But it was convenient and it was paid for -- well, almost. When I got to the cashier the total cost was L8,50. TK&A had only allowed L7. That was the first that I had heard of a limit so I was not very happy. The cashier apologized and said they only had 2 hours notice we were coming so that was the best they could do. (Strange!!??)

After dinner, Lisa called her sister. Larry and Joan and I planned to get the info and meet right away to make lodging and travel plans for the next few days. Somehow wires got crossed. They finally came knocking on our dorm window at 9:30. Since we had already done the research, we only met for a few minutes -- then everyone went off to bed.

Love to all, David and Lisa


06/29 Ireland, Dublin to Athlone

Today Joan and Larry rode. We opted to go back into Dublin and tour the Guiness Brewery and the Kilmainham Gaol (prison).

The brewery was nothing new or exciting. Guiness brews beer much the same as other breweries I've visited.

We sampled a half-pint of the world famous Guiness Stout at the end of the tour. (Many people told us not to miss it and that it was better and smoother then is Guiness anywhere else in the world.) We thought it WAS very smooth -- but also somewhat bitter.

From there we went to the Kilmainham Gaol, a prison that was in operation from 1792 until 1923. Most of the rebels who fought in Ireland's struggle for independence were held and/or executed here.

The prison houses a fascinating museum tracing the history of penal practices. Earlier prisons were single, large rooms with no windows -- often with dirt floors -- never with any sanitation facilities. Every offender -- young, old, male and female -- was thrown in together. Fights were common. Neither illnesses nor injuries were tended. The stench was terrible. A sentence to spend any time at all was usually a death sentence.

The Kilmainham was a model prison for it's time. It was built on top of a hill to take advantage of light and air. It gave each prisoner a separate cell with a bed, a table and chair, and a bucket for waste.

One of the reform theories at the time was that lawbreakers were people who had made a mistake. Therefore, prisons should be unpleasant places so that no one would want to go there, and certainly not go BACK there.

But the prevailing theory was that lawbreakers were born evil. They could only be reformed by isolation from everything but the bible and the church. Thus, prisoners were held in dark, single cells, were given a bible, and were only allowed to see or hear a chaplain. The cells had no windows or doors that prisoners could see out of. The guards wore felt pads on their shoes and did not speak around the cells so the prisoners could not hear anything.

And that was reform!

Some good things happened during that time though. Hangings were made more humane. Early hangings used the "short drop" method. In that, the convicted were made to stand on a stool, the rope put around their neck, then the stool kicked out. Thus they dropped just a few feet and hung there until they strangled to death.

The more humane method, adopted during that time, was the "long drop" method. With that, the offender's weight was used to compute the length of rope that would allow the body to drop far enough to build enough momentum so that when the end of the rope was reached, the sudden stop would break the neck and cause instant death. That method was further improved by building the hanging scaffold above an enclosed platform with a trapdoor. That way, when the trapdoor was opened, the body dropped out of sight before reaching the end of the rope.

The tour of the prison was one of the most interesting we've experienced. Combined social and political history.

Enough of talk of the prison. We left at noon to pick up Larry and Joan on route. Again, we had not quite enough time in Dublin.

Love to all, David and Lisa


06/30 Ireland, Athlone to Strandhill (near Sligo)

We had Karen-Ann's breakfast (lots of good food) at the Rugby field this morning. As we prepared to leave, I realized I didn't have my red North Face rain jacket. Tracing back, we figured it was not returned when most of our stolen stuff was found. What a pain! Of course, my new gloves from Lauren and my new shoe covers that I just got in Washington were in it. But, it could have been worse. . . .

We headed down the route -- 80 miles down the road to Strandhill. Lots of rolling, green hills spotted with herds of cows, flocks of sheep, miles of intersecting walls an occasional house. The roads were rough all day. Lots of loose gravel. Lots of BIG rolls. Very little wind. We made good time -- averaged about 18 mph.

We stopped several times and tried to call the Cardiff Police Department to see if anymore of our stuff was found. We were notably unsuccessful in our telephone efforts We never got through.

Joan picked us up around 3:15. (Larry wanted to finish the ride.) We drove in to Strandhill, arriving around 4:30. We picked up info at the campground for dinner time and location, and directions to our B&B.

The B&B was right across the street from the North Atlantic Ocean. WHAT A LOCATION!!! A beautiful view of the beach, the waves, the surfers on one side -- a wonderful view of the huge mountain of sheer, limestone cliffs called Benbulben on the other -- and the beautiful greens and fairways of the Strandhill Golf Course on the side and back. FANTASTIC!

The weather, at 5:30 at night, was high fog, warm and muggy. There were still people on the beach in their bathing suits.

Larry got in about 6. We all decided to forgo the TK&A dinner (which was just set up today around 3) and go out for a sit-down restaurant dinner to celebrate Joan's and Larry's 21st Anniversary. We had a wonderful meal in the Ocean View Hotel in Strandhill.

While we were eating, it started pouring. We thought that we might make tomorrow a non-riding day.

After our 3-hour meal, we headed back to our B&B. It was still raining lightly. We thought of our companions who are camping in the rain -- but we couldn't feel sorry for them. Many have expressed their pleasure in camping in the rain. So we just thought good thoughts.

Love to all, David and Lisa


07/01 Ireland, Strandhill to Rossbeg (near Donegal - NOT)

We had a nice breakfast at the B&B. Joan was sick so she opted not to ride. Also, she said she'd rather not drive. We had some stuff to do relative to the loss of items from the car break-in last week. Larry wanted to ride. So, putting all those pieces together, we traded driving/riding days with Larry.

To at least get some biking in, Lisa and I rode into Sligo. We found a bike shop, but they had nothing we needed. The lady at the bike shop gave us directions to an Internet cafe. We rode over there and found many things we needed -- Internet access, and fax and copy machines.

First we tried to fax our loss report to the insurance company. Wouldn't go through. The owner tried again. Again it wouldn't go through. I asked him if he was sure he was putting the country code on correctly. He wasn't. We got that corrected and the third time was a charm. It apparently went through.

Then I got on the Internet to find some of the other things we needed to replace. As I finished making a list, Lisa came running in. She had found some rain gear in two sporting good stores that she wanted me to see.

We left the bike in the Internet cafe and went over to look at what she found. Bottom line -- I was able to get replacements for both the rain pants and the rain jacket. Hallelujah!

When we returned to the internet cafe, the proprietor told me he had received another confirmation that said the fax had NOT gone thru. We discussed the situation -- in particular the conflicting information we had received. I decided not to try again but, rather, to call the insurance company later (when they open) and get verbal confirmation.

It was 1:30 by then. Joan was back at the B&B waiting for us. We had tried to call her from the sporting goods store but could not get an answer, so we were anxious to get back.

A quick ride got us back by 2. Joan thought we had probably gotten lost. (That happenes a lot on this trip.)

We had lunch, then hit the road to pick up Larry. We drove through more green hills and dales of Western Ireland on more narrow, twisty back roads as we followed the route looking for Larry.

We finally got to the campground (which was in an incredibly remote area, near the ocean but miles from any civilization. No Larry. We were about to backtrack to look for him -- when he rode up.

We packed everything up and headed to our B&B. It was a LOVELY house. We had a VERY NICE room with a beautiful, long-distance view of the Donegal Bay and the mountains behind it.

One thing we have noticed as we travel North. The days are getting significantly longer. For instance, last night it was light until almost 11:30. This morning it was light at 5.

Love to all, David and Lisa


07/02 Narin, Ireland to Portrush, Northern Ireland

Today it was ours and Joan's day to ride. We got all set to go when I found two knots in the tire that gave an "ess" shape. Since that was a blowout waiting to happen, we couldn't ride. We had to hitch to midday checkpoint where the mechanic (with new tires) was. Joan decided she would go ahead and ride.

We drove to checkpoint. We bought a tire from TK&A ($55! Seems high...) and installed it. Then we hit the road.

The route was another day of typical Irish countryside -- rolling green hills, crisscrossed by lines of rock walls, dotted with flocks of sheep and herds of cows, covered by bright blue skies flecked with fluffy clouds.

The weather was definitely NOT typical -- it was sunny and warm all day. (The Irish tell us they haven't had three days without rain for as long as they can remember.)

Camp and dinner were relocated at the last minute. The hotel where we had dinner was right across the street from a narrow strip of golf course that was right along the ocean so it had a great view. More importantly, it had a large screen TV where I could watch the European Cup Final Game between Italy and France.

I had been talking about the final game all week and told everyone I wanted to get in early -- well before 6, so we asked to be picked up between 2:00 and 2:30. Larry and Joan showed up around 3:30. We loaded up the bikes and hit the road. After stopping at the TK&A camp to get some repairs to Larry's bike, we finally got to our B&B about 6:15. Joan wanted to shower so we couldn't go over to dinner and the game right away. Larry graciously offered to drive me to the restaurant while Joan showered, then come back and showered and get Joan and Lisa for dinner.

That worked, and I got to see the game, although I passed on dinner until Lisa got there. The game was good (great for Gilbert, our Odyssey Frenchman.) At the end of regulation time, France was ahead 1-0. In the 3-minutes of extra time added to the end by the referee, Italy scored. Since a final can't end in a tie, they went into two 15 minute, sudden death, overtimes. On an excellent play, Italy put the ball in the back of the net. Final -- Italy 2, France 1.

Love to all, David and Lisa


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