On this particular day, we were driving from County Sligo to County Mayo to visit the Ceide Fields Neolithic site, an award wining heritage site located along the rugged North Mayo coastline ( https://www.outdoorfitnesssligo.com/blog/ceide-fields-neolithic-site )
We decided first to take a quick detour and visit one of Ireland's most spectacular Friaries, Rosserk Abbey. Located on the banks of the River Moy, it was built in the 15th Century by a Chieftain of the Joyces, a powerful family of Welsh origin who settled in Connacht in the 13th Century.
Rosserk Friary is well preserved making it easy to imagine what life along the Moy must have been like during the years the abbey was inhabited by a community of friars from the third order of St Francis. This order existed out of married men and women who wished to lead a Franciscan life but, because of their married status, were unable to join the First Order (Friars) or Second Order (Nuns).
The church, which has an attractive bell tower and a fine four-light east window, stands at the south side of the cloister. On the opposite side is the refectory or dining hall where once freshly caught salmon from the Moy would have been served. On the east side is a sacristy and chapter house with above it the dormitory.
In the south-east corner of the chancel is a double piscina used for washing the vessels during the mass ceremony. It features carvings of a round tower, two angels and the instruments of the passion. Many of the large fireplaces are still present to this day.
Rosserk Friary is worth the visit if you find yourself in North Mayo. Where it is one of the lesser visited monuments in ireland, it should be on your itinerary as it is one of the finest examples of a preserved Franciscan friary in Ireland.
The Plantin Moretus Museum (www.museumplantinmoretus.be) is located at the Vrijdagmarkt (Friday Market) in Antwerp. The museum is the original residence and workshop of the Plantin and Moretus publishing dynasty who were world renowned for their entrepreneurial skills.
Plantin moved his family to the residence in 1576 and his family lived and worked there for the next 300 years. Throughout those years, the "Gulden Compass" as the house was named changed and expanded in size to fit the ever growing business.
Walking through the museum which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site, you are transported back in time by about about 400 years.
It is the only museum on the prestigious UNESCO world heritage list mainly because of the uniqueness of the museum. It includes a prestigious mansion, the only fully equipped printing workshop from the 16th century, the world's largest selection of Plantin and Moretus editions,...
Walking through the house, you can admire the original wall coverings and creaking oak floors from the 16th century, but also the oldest printing presses in the world . Within the walls of the patrician house is a quiet garden where the noises from the city are blocked by the old buildings surrounding it.
Where the bottom floor is accessible for everybody, wheelchairs won't be able to access the first floor. This floor has many floor level changes.
Starting with the ground floor, it is here that you find the impressive workshop that once was the beating heart of the business. With a 56 strong workforce, it was the largest business of its kind in the world at this time.
First used in 1580, it contained 16 presses. Two of the presses date back to the 16th century where the others are from the 17th and 18th century.
Where the compositors would set the lead type in a composing stick to form a line, these lines would then be assembled on a sturdy board to form the page.
The great library is still organised today like a private humanistic library of the 17th century, with high shelves filled with books arranged according to size, lecterns, globes and busts. The museum now contains the largest selection of Plantin and Moretus editions, many of which are on display. The old shop is another interesting part of the house. With its counter and cabinets still intact, the shop used to sell the books as loose sheets. If a customer wanted a book, then they had to bring the loose sheets to a bookbinder.
Within the shop, you can still see the money scale for checking silver and gold coins. Another room that intrigued me was the room where they made the lead letters, copper plates and wooden blocks used during the printing process. Everything was managed in house in those days, although Plantin had set up an international distribution network of booksellers who would help him sell his books.
But the museum offers so much more, you can admire a rich art collection that include portraits by Rubens. the museum's collection of paintings includes 71 portraits. it was Balthasar Moretus who asked his good friend Peter Paul Rubens to make portraits of his grandparents.
In the upstairs rooms, you find room upon room with original books, manuscripts and original prints. Within the extensive collection are atlases, science books, almanac's and many more publications. And this extensive collection is available online.
And last but not least, there is the fabulous courtyard garden. Already famous during Pantin's own time, it was frequently visited by kings, princes and prominent figures. The garden you see nowadays was created in 1992 using plants that were popular during the 16th and 17th centuries. Being a close friend to some of the greatest botanists of his day must have helped him in designing the garden. Botanists like Rembert Dodoens had their books publicized through Plantin, many which can still be admired in the museum.
Torres do Oeste is a defensive enclosure located at the head of the Rio de Arousa in the Caldas region of Galicia. Located on a rocky promontory on the banks of the river Ulla and surrounded by marshland, it used to serve as a strategic defense post against Viking attacks.
King Alfonso III of Leon ordered the built of the castle in the 9th century so the river Ulla could be protected from attacks. Where the river Ulla was an important natural entry into Galicia, the castle went through strengthening works.
The 2 remaining Pre-Roman style towers are from the 9th Century. In the 12th Century, bishops ordered the strengthening of the castle in order to protect the holy site of Santiago de Compostela.
Located nearby Torres do Oeste is the Torres do Oeste cultural centre which is housed in a modern building designed by the award-winning architect Cesar Portela.
The ground floor houses a tourist office and a spacious exhibition hall designed like a Viking longship. The exhibition tells the history of the towers, Viking attacks in Galicia,... Many artefacts are on display in the exhibition, ranging from swords to statues to armour,....
Within the basement is an audiovisual room where they screen videos of the annual Viking Festival of Catroina.
The Viking Festival of Catoira is an annual festival which has been celebrated every first Sunday in August since 1961. It is held to commemorate Catoira's role in defending against the Vikings who were trying to plunder the treasure held in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. During the festival, they re-enact the Viking invasions that took place using 3 replica longboats.
These longboats are moored nearby the Torres do Oeste and are fairly reliable reproductions based on longboats that are kept in museums in Denmark and Norway.
Where Catroina is off the beaten path and not frequently visited by tourists, it is worthwhile taking the detour .
Arcos de la Frontera (www.turismoarcos.es) is a typical Andalucian hilltop town. Where I arrived by bike, it became apparent that you have to be prepared for some steep hills.
The old town which sits on top of a dramatic cliff is reached by small steep historic streets that seemingly become narrower and narrower the further you head up the cliff.
Strangely enough, local cars seem to navigate effortless between the historic houses taking sharp turns narrowly avoiding the many tables and chairs of the few restaurants.
I made my way up to the historic town along the slope of Bethlehem. It was here that the Jerez gate was located, one of the three gates into the city during Moorish times.
In those days, there was a fortification wall of double thickness, a moat and a drawbridge making it as good as impossible to take over the city.
On the lintel was the coat of arms of Arcos which nowadays can be found on the facade of the townhall. The gate was demolished in 1852.
Where Arcos de la Frontera is a lesser visited town by the many tourists visiting Andalucia, , it should be on your travel bucketlist.
With many things to do and see, it makes for a worthwhile detour.
Minor Basilica of Santa María de la Asunción
The Gothic-Baroque church is one of Andalucia's more beautiful churches, built over several centuries on the site of a mosque. Where the original bell tower was toppled by the 1755 Lisbon earthquake, a neoclassical replacement was built , but never completed.
Since 1931, the building has been declared a National Monument
Palacio del Mayorazgo
The Palacio del Mayorazgo is a noble 17th Century building that is currently used as an exhibition center. It now houses the Municipal Department of Culture. The various rooms are dedicated to temporary or permanent exhibitions, such as the “Room of the Miller’s Wife and the Magistrate” and the “Room of Antonio the Dancer”, the “Poets and Writers Corner” or the “Victor Marín Foundation Room”.
In the lower part of the Palacio are the Municipal Art Gallery and the Andalusian Garden .
Iglesia de San Pedro
This stunning church was built on the remains of a Muslim fortress. The church went through a few expansion projects adding a total of 6 chapels during the 16th and 17th century.
The impressive facade was made in the 18th century by Manuel Gómez and Pedro de Silva in Baroque style. Structured in three sections, the first one being the entrance which is flanked by twin columns, the second one with a statue of San Pedro and the third part containing three bells.
Where there are more historic buildings in Arcos de la Frontera which are worthwhile a visit, I ran out of time to cover them all. So a return trip is definitely on the cards.
Where there are many hotels in Arcos de la Frontera, I stayed in the old historic part of the town. With a great selection of restaurants on your doorstep and magnificent historic buildings in the vicinity, it is highly recommended to stay a few days in Arcos de la Frontera
The Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library is located at the Hendrik Conscience square in Antwerp. (Hendrik Conscience Heritage Library | Erfgoed Hendrik Conscience (consciencebibliotheek.be)
Within the library, the Nottebohm Room is a hidden gem. There is a magical feeling about this historic library space. From the moment you walk into this library, the quietness of the room is filled with the noise of the creaky parquet floor.
The room's wooden bookshelves are filled with a collection of 120000 rare historical books and manuscripts. The library holds an important collection of early printed books, a collection that has grown over the course of 5 centuries.
The Nottebohm room has served as a showroom since 1936 and is now open to the general public from 22nd April until the 10th September.
The 17th Century in which the Nottebohm room is located in was originally used as a meeting and prayer room for religious brotherhoods.
In those days, the interior was decorated with beautiful baroque paintings by Rubens and Van Dyck.
When you visit Muckross House, its gardens and the traditional farms, (https://www.muckross-house.ie/) you need to take at least a couple of hours to discover everything.
We arrived just after opening hours, so it was still quiet on this particular day.
After having purchased our tickets, we started off with a visit of Muckross House.
Muckross House was built for Henry Arthur Herbert and his wife. Building commenced in 1839 and was completed in 1843. Where it took 4 years to complete the house, it is a reasonable timeframe if you think there are 65 rooms in the house.
Walking through the house, we admired the principal rooms which are furnished in period style portraying the elegant lifestyle of the 19th century landowning class.
From the plethora of mounted trophy heads of deer to the china on display, the house its interior is outstanding. Even nicer are the stunning views of Killarney National Park through the many windows.
The servants wing of the house is extensive, and we can only imagine how many servants must have worked on the estate to
After the house and the gardens, we headed to the traditional farms. We stepped back in time and visited the Ireland of the 1930s and 1940s.
While walking through the fields, we reached the first farm. In the park, you can visit three seperate working farms (small, medium and large), each of them complete with animals, poultry and machinery. Within each of the farms was somebody available to explain what life was like working the land, cooking above an open fire,...Those long gone days were filled with a walk to the local well to collect water, growing your own vegetables and minding your animals, ...
Within each of the farms was a beautiful turf fire, above some of them soda break baking away.
In one of the farms, we got to taste the soda bread and homemade butter. Chatting to the farmer's wife, we learned all about life in the countryside, the furniture and living conditions during the 1930s and 1940s
Each of the cottages had a vegetable plot where cabbage, potatoes and radish were growing. Within the farmyard were chickens, pigs, horses,...
Quille's is the largest farm of the three, and it is here that we admired the large Irish wolfhounds, horses and donkeys.
Within Muckross is also a shed where you can pet some of the smaller farm animals,... or enjoy a sheltered picnic in the woodland play area.
Next was the local blacksmith where the fire and sparks shooting out from underneath the blacksmith's hammer where an impressive sight. The blacksmith explained all about his trade as we watched in admiration while he skilfully created a horseshoe.
After the blacksmith, we also visited the local school and tool shed. In the school, we were greeted by the local teacher who explained to us that state-sponsored primary schools were introduced in Ireland in 1831. The schoolhouse was divided in 2 rooms where each teacher would teach several classes within the one classroom.
Another interesting fact was that the students had to bring turf to school so the open fires could be fired up. All by all, we really loved the experience at Muckross House.
Each first Wednesday of the month, many of the OPW heritage sites offer free admission to individual visitors and families. On one of these Wednesdays, we found ourselves visiting Sligo Abbey in Sligo town.
The abbey is located in Abbey street with ample car park space available in Abbey Street car park.
The Dominican friary was founded in 1253 by Maurice Fitzgerald. As many Norman towns in those days, Sligo had a castle and the abbey.
Where the castle was destroyed in the 14th Century, the abbey survived. But it must be said that the abbey was rebuilt throughout its history as it suffered accidental fires and got damaged throughout local wars.
We opted for the guided tour which we would highly recommend. Our guide was very knowledgeable and explained the history of the abbey in detail.
Throughout Sligo abbey's history, the population of friars increased and decreased. In 1608, only one friar was left in the abbey, father O'Duane who died in that year.
Prior to his dead, father O'Crean arrived from Spain and built up a new community. unfortunately, the friary deteriorated that much throughout wars that it fell in disrepair and a new friary was built. From that point onwards, the abbey grounds were used as a cemetery and the buildings were quarried for reusable stone. Luckily, a stop was put to the quarrying and parts of the abbey were saved.
The first part we visited during the visit was the church which still has its tower intact. A special feature within the church is the 15th century rood screen which divides the church in two separating the nave from the choir.
Within the church is the "O'Crean altar tomb" which is the oldest surviving monument within the church. On the tomb is a latin inscription that dates it to 1506 and states the tomb is fron Cormac O'Crean and his wife Johanna.
Another noteworthy feature within the church is the O'Connor mural which is located right of the altar. It shows a relief of O'Connor and his wife kneeling in prayer.
O'Connor was instrumental in saving the abbey from dissolution.
Beside the church is the cloister of the abbey. Only three sides of the cloister remain standing; the western side has been demolished. The cloister walk is covered with rubble barrel vaults where its arcades are supported by slender pillars reminiscent of double columns. Leading from the cloister are the sacristy, vestry and chapter room which are part of the 13th -century core of the abbey.
On top of these rooms is the old refectory where you can see a ruined oriel window. It is here that a friar would be seated reading aloud from the scriptures during mealtimes.
During the cholera epidemic of 1832, many of the dead were buried in mass graves in the grounds of the abbey. During six weeks, 1500 people died in Sligo during this Cholera outbreak.
An interesting fact is that Bram Stoker's mother hailed from Sligo. It is thought that Bram Stoker's mother , who was haunted by the cholera outbreak she witnessed first hand, told her young son stories of the horrors she seen in Sligo. These stories echo through her son's famous novel "Dracula",...
So after an interesting visit, we said our goodbyes to the guide and the group.
KMSKA or the Royal museum of fine Arts Antwerp opened its doors again on 24th September 2022 after 10 years of extensive rebuilding .
Through the works, the museum gained 40% more exhibition space without impacting the structure of the historic building. The museum as it is now weaves old and new design seamless together to create a space where visitors can enjoy, discover, experience and participate without any obstacle.
Tickets for the museum can be purchased in advance or can be bought from one of the ticket terminals at the entrance. The new entrance is modern and stands in stark contrast with the outside of the museum.
The Royal Museum of Fine Arts Antwerp (KMSKA) is the biggest art museum in Flanders. With masterpieces from the Flemish primitives and Antwerp Baroque to the extensive collection of modern art by, for example, Rik Wouters, Henri De Braekeleer and René Magritte.
Level 1 - Modern Masters
On level one, you find the modern masters with the crown jewel, the biggest collection of James Ensor in the world.
In the this part of the museum will also find the expo halls where you find temporary exhibitions. Current exhibitions are " the making of "which explains the renovation of the museum through pictures.
The second exhibition is cosmorama, an exhibition where Ives Maes photographs the heritage of the world exhibitions. One of the halls is called the Light Hall, a pure white gallery where the painting are bathing in a stream of soft daylight. From this room, you can take a crisp white stairwell to level 3 where further modern masters are on display.
Level 2 - Old Masters
On level 2, you find all the old masters. Ranging from Rubens to Van Eyck, this floor is just stunning. Within the museum are some modern touches interweaved with the old. For example, the huge purple hand that turns around every so often.
Another impressive room is the VR room. Here you put on virtual reality glasses and you are transported back to Rubens workshop where you can see the many masters at work, follow the exploits of the workshop cat,...
The projection room is another impressive room where details from some of the paintings are projected on the room walls. Each new detail rolls around the room like a curtain, each time zooming in on some aspects of the paintings.
The old masters range from Pieter Brueghel to Jacob Jordaens to Peter Paul Rubens, with some of the their largest masterpieces on display
Level# 3 - Drawings and sculptures
On this floor, you find many drawings and sculptures
Level# 4 - Modern Masters
The top floor brings further modern masters. From Henri Van De Velde his "woman by the window", an amazing painting completed using the pointillism technique to many other masters, KMSKA is worth a visit. Where the museum opened under some negative critique back last year, I must disagree. KMSKA is just fabulous.
The Pena Palace (Palacio da Pena) is a stunning colourful romanticism castle in Sao Pedro de Penaferrim. It stands on top of a hill in the beautiful Serra de Sintra above the beautiful town of Sintra.
The easiest way to reach the palace is by bus 434 which runs frequently from Sintra town and stops at all of Sintra’s main tourist attractions. Bus 434 is a designated tourist bus that connects all of Sintra's Palaces and Castles, and with a price of €11.50 is the cheapest option to easily reach Pena Palace.
For this €11.50, you can take all of Sintra's buses for 24 hours, but be mindful that demand for this bus is very high, especially during the summer months. The other way to reach the Palace is with your own car, but be prepared to navigate the busy, narrow winding roads up Serra de Sintra and dealing with the issue of trying to navigate the traffic free centre of Sintra ....
You can also travel by taxi or by Tuk Tuk, both of which are a good bit more expensive than bus 434.
The other way to reach the castle is on foot following the Caminho de Santa Maria, a very steep path that brings you slowly uphill. This walk takes close to an hour and can be a bit of a struggle during the summer heat , but will provide you with stunning views along the way.
As it was a few days after New Years Eve, we expected it to be quiet enough at Portugal's most popular tourist attraction. How wrong we could have been. When we disembarked from bus 434, we discovered quickly that Portugal's most popular tourist attraction attracts many visitors year-round.
Buying tickets was effortless. You buy your entrance tickets at one of the automated terminals where you select the time you would like to enter the palace and pay, then await the tickets to be printed.
After having our tickets handed over at the gate, we walked slowly up the hill where we reached the gates of the Palace. Here we joined the queue to enter the castle. Thirty minutes later, we were allowed to enter the palace.
The site where the Pena Palace is located used to be a medieval chapel dedicated to our lady of Pena until the king ordered the built of a monastery.
The great Lisbon earthquake destroyed most of the monastery with exception of the chapel. During this time, Portugal's king Ferdinand 2 acquired the ruined monastery and its surroundings and started the built of the Pena Palace as we know it today.
The main purpose of the Palace was to serve as a summer residence for the king. After his dead, his second wife Elisa Hensler sold the palace to king Luis. In 1889, it was purchased by the Portuguese state and was later classified as a national monument.
The grandeur of the Palace is visible in each of the rooms, from the decadent wall and ceiling decorations to the furniture, no expense was saved in making this a palace to remember.
The exterior is the most striking feature of the Palace, from the blue azulejos to the yellow and red colour scheme, it is an eclectic mix of architectural styles.
While walking through the vast Palace, we admired the chapel, the Royal Dining room, the kitchen and many other rooms. Each of these rooms is decorated with elaborate stucos, painted walls in trompe-l'oeil and stunning tiles,....
The area surrounding the palace is worth a visit as well. The Pena Park is a forested area spreading over 200 hectares of uneven terrain. Within the park are plants and trees from North America, Japan and Australia and New Zealand.
When you walk down through the park along the many paths, you will see the many small mountain rivers and lakes ...
Some of the special plants within the park are sequoia, magnolias, Ginkgo,... The fern garden which includes a huge variety of ferns and tree ferns is a must visit.
The Gallarus Oratory is located on the Dingle Peninsula, one of the most stunning parts of Ireland. This ancient church which is believed to be about 1300 years old is one of Ireland's most iconic buildings.
Arriving at the visitor centre, we started the tour with an introductory video about Gallarus Oratory before we took the short walk towards the Church. The building itself is the perfect specimen of dry rubble masonary. The roof is formed by the gradual rise of the side walls from the base upwards.
The last stone placed on top forms the top of the roof and surprisingly makes the building fully watertight.
In the west gable is a square-headed doorway nearly 2 meters high and in the opposing wall is a window. Inside above the round-headed window are three projecting stones, which may have been used for hanging a lamp or book, or maybe were part of a canopy over a now-missing altar. Gallarus Oratory is situated within a monastic enclosure where once early Christians lived and worked.
At the side of the Northern wall is a leact and Cross-slab. The upper part of the slab is inscribed with a cross within a circle and the lower part bears the following inscription COLUM MAC DINET.
Over the many years, successive invaders like the Vikings and Normans burned, robbed and destroyed the settlements around Gallarus.
Located on Chicago's iconic Lake Michigan Shore, the Field Museum is one of my favourite museums in the world. With nearly 40 million specimens and artefacts in their collection, it brings you something new to discover/learn during each visit. Every time I am visiting Chicago, i try to dedicate a few hours of my time to this fascinating museum. (https://www.fieldmuseum.org/)
The Field Museum is huge and requires plenty of time to discover all the displays. Following are the exhibitions within the museum:
The one exhibition I always visit is the Griffin Halls of Evolving Planet where you get to know the many creatures that have roamed the earth throughout history, from single-cel organisms to the evolution of mankind.
Admire the giant sloths, meet a model of Lucy, a 3.2-million-year-old hominid.
Admire the many fossils on display and learn all about earth's mass extinction events. A hugely impressive hall is the Elizabeth Morse Genius Hall of Dinosaurs where you can get up and close with more than a dozen of the biggest dinosaurs that once roamed our planet.
Next , step into the world of Sue, the largest and most complete T. rex specimen. Sue's skeleton is 40-foot long and 90% complete. This T. rex is named for Sue Hendrickson, who discovered the dinosaur in 1990 during a commercial excavation trip north of Faith, South Dakota.
Another exhibition i always love is the Ancient Americas exhibition. This exhibition journeys through 13,000 years of human ingenuity and achievement in the Americas.
Learn more about the different societies that thrived in the Americas long before the arrival of Europeans. Follow the path from hunters and gatherers to the Aztec and Inca empires.
Discover when the European settlers arrived and how they shaped history to present day.
With interactive displays and thousands of artefacts, explore what we’ve learned recently about these advanced early civilizations and what they teach us about our way of life today.
One room I always love is the totem pole room, where huge totems stand proud and tall .
The Africa exhibition offers a glimpse into the varied cultures you find in Africa. Learn more about the many different cultures, listen to the languages spoken within the many African countries and admire African life. From walking through a town in Senegal to walking along a camel caravan deep in the Sahara, experience Africa.
Another exhibition I always visit is the Egypt exhibition. With the largest collection of mummies in the United States (23 human mummies and more than 30 animal mummies), it is a must visit exhibition. Step back in time and discover life in Egypt during the time when the Pharaos ruled. Experience an ancient marketplace, walk around one of the boats that sailed on the river Nile or step inside a three storey replica of an ancient Egyptian tomb. In this replica, you can explore two authentic chamber rooms that are over 4,400 years old.
In the mammal exhibition, you can catch a glimpse of mammals from Asia and Africa—from giraffes at a watering hole to monkeys peeking out from the canopy. The many dioramas provide you with perfect crafted landscapes with carefully preserved specimens.
Where there are many more exhibitions within the Field Museum, to many to discover during one visit.
As we were in Dublin for another event, me and my dad decided to visit a few museums as well. One of these museums was the National Museum of Ireland - Archaeology ( Archaeology | National Museum of Ireland ) which is housed in a fabulous building in Kildare Street.
Neo-classical influences can be seen in the colonnaded entrance and the domed rotunda which rises to a height of 20 meters and is modelled on the Pantheon in Rome.
It is here where you find the museum shop. Within the rotunda are marble columns which were quarried in Counties Cork, Kilkenny, Galway,....
My first surprise of the day was the entrance fee - there wasn't any. For a museum of this caliber, I would have gladly paid an entrance fee, but of course no entrance fee is even better.
In the great centre court, a balcony is supported by rows of cast-iron columns with elaborate decorated bases and top-beams. On the balcony, further columns support the roof where beautiful decorated spandrels support the roof.
So after admiring the building, it was time to admire the many archaeological finds. But before we started our tour, we admired the beautiful mosaic floors in the rotunda.
On the groundfloor, you will find the following exhibitions:
Here you find one of Europe's most important gold collections. Beautiful crafted pieces of jewellery are on display. For example, gold dress fasteners, gold ribbon torcs,...
This exhibitions shows major religious artifacts of early and christian ireland. For example, there is the fabulous Ardagh Chalice which is one of the greastest treasures of the early Irish church. It was discovered as part of a hoard in the 19th century by a man digging potatoes in Ardagh.
The Faddan more Psalter:
This book of psalms was only discovered in 2006 by chance in a bog in Tipperary and has been skilfully preserved for future generations.
Prehistoric Ireland :
Here you can discover the tools and weapons used during the stone age to bronze age.
Kingship and sacrifice:
This room is just spectacular. Here you can come face to face with iron age bog bodies. It is amazing to see the detail of these bodies, from nails to hair, it has all been preserved .This exhibition focusses on human sacrifice and the disposition of bodies in bogs at the tribal bounderies.
Further exhibitions are hill of Tara, Viking Ireland, medieval Ireland, ancient Egypt,... If you find yourself in Dublin and you have some spare time, the National Museum of Ireland - Archeology should be on everybody's to do list.
It was meant to be a dry day in April, so we decided to do a day trip to Inishowen. The plan was to drive up from co.Sligo in the morning and drive the Inishowen 100, a sign-posted drive bringing you to all the scenic locations along the peninsula of Inishowen. We had reached out to our twitter followers the day before and received a lot of recommendations of things to see and do. We were also warned that trying to do everything in a day would be a push, but more about that later.
After a quick enough drive towards Letterkenny, we headed towards Grianan of Aileach, a hilltop stone ringfort which demands amazing views towards the Inishowen peninsula.
After an informative break, we headed further along our route with next stop Inch Island. Inch Island is a wildfowl sanctuary popular with hibernating swans and geese who arrive from Iceland to enjoy the much milder climate of Donegal.
After a brief walk we decided to head further. Passing through Buncrana, we arrived soon afterwards at Dunree Fort.
Dunree Fort is a coastal defence fortification which was originally built as a Royal Navy post during the Napoleonic Wars.
Due to the strategic position of Dunree Fort protecting lough Swilly, The fort was used until after WWII.
The fort is now a military museum exhibiting many restored canons and guns, it also includes a cafe, gift shop and many coastal walks.
Across from the Cafe is a small path which leads down the cliffs towards a small pier. The water here is azure blue and needs to be seen to be believed.
After a bit of rockclimbing at the bottom of Dunree fort, we headed back along the inishowen 100 towards Malin Head.
Next on our itinerary was the gap of Mamore, a twisty scenic road which weaves itself through the Gap between 2 mountains. On top of the gap are shrines and a Holy Well which is named St Eigne's well, a popular pilgrimage place.
Next stop was Glenevin Waterfall Park. The start of the walk is beside the Glen House Tea rooms. The walk follows the river which meanders through the valley as far as the waterfall itself.
The waterfall is approx. 30 feet high and is a spectacular sight
Carrying on our journey, we crossed the bridge into the village of Malin. Ones you have crossed the bridge, turn left and follow the road along the shores towards Five Finger Strand. And what can we say about five finger Strand? We believe the pictures speak for themselves. It is amazing, the water is as clear as can be , the dunes flanking the beach are spectacular, the sun was beaming down on us, ...
So we decided to take a 2 hour break and enjoy the views while the kids were building sandcastles
The last part of the day was what I was most excited about,... Malin Head. I had stayed with my parents in Malin Head
In those days, Malin Head was just famous for it's rugged coastline, great fishing and tatched cottages.
This time around, Malin Head is famous for being part of the Wild Atlantic Way, but it is also famous for it being a film location for the up and coming Star Wars movie - The last jedi . And it showed, the amount of cars at Ireland's most Northerly point had taken up all available car park spaces.
Malin Head is spectacular. Where myself and my dad went fishing nearby Hell's Hole in 1984, this time around walkways had been installed along the coast towards Hell's Hole. Head in 1984 where they had rented a cottage for 4 weeks. In 1984, coming from Antwerp , Belgium , it felt like the most remote place on earth.
Staring across the reinforced wall towards the Inishowen Peninsula, the sun was making an appearance above Louch Swilly.
On this beautiful morning in April, we would be forgiven to feel like a king on top of Grianan of Aileach, a hillfort atop the 244m high Greenan mountain at Inishowen.
Imagining what a siege would have been like in it's occupied days, the gorse surrounding this mighty fort could have been Vikings trying to capture this mighty fort which dates back to the 8th or 9th century.
The short walk from the car park earlier on had given us views towards lough Swilly and Lough Foyle, and it is this demanding location which was more than likely the reason they built this fort in this location. The walls are 4.5 meters thick and 5 meters high, on the inside there are 3 terraces linked by steps. Inside the walls are 2 long passages.
The fort was plundered by vikings in 904 and 939, the final destruction took place in 1101by the army of Muirchertach ui briain, king of Munster.
In the 1870's , the fort was restored by Dr. Walter Bernard. Nowadays, there is an extensive carpark installed close to the fort, a short walk will bring you towards the fort itself. The walk is wheelchair friendly as a new path has been installed for wheelchair users. This great tourist attractions which was a hit with our kids has no admission fee.
Having arrived in Galway, we decided to head to Salthill first. Salthill is a seaside area in the city of Galway which was discovered in the early 19th century when bathing became fashionable.
The old horse-drawn trams used to bring daytrippers from Galway city to Salthill to enjoy the sea breeze and beach.
Nowadays, the promenade seems to be the main drawing point where runners and walkers enjoy the views as far as the Burrren across Galway bay.
From Salthill, it is a quick 5 minute drive into the city of Galway. Having the car parked at the Cathedral, we walked across the Corrib river. The Cathedral is one of Galway's largest buildings. Building commenced in 1958 on the site of the old city prison and the cathedral was completed in 1965, making it the last great stone cathedral built in Europe.
Just across the bridge, we turned into Newtownsmith. Here you will find the Friars walkway, a path which runs between the Corrib river and the Friars river. Where the Corrib river is one of the shortest rivers in Europe with a total length of only 6km, the Friars river showcases a very early piece of canal engineering. In 1178, the Friars of Claregalway abbey who were fed up taking a detour to enter the river, started the built of the canal. Galway, being a city with a high student population, is always buzzing. From the many tourists to the street buskers, it's alive and kicking.
From the Galway races to the Galway arts festival, from the Volvo Ocean race to the Galway ironman, there is always something happening.
And we don't know if you know, but Galway has officially been designated European Capital of Culture 2020. So loads of reasons to visit Galway in the near future.
Having walked along the Corrib, we reached the Spanish Arch, a remainder of the extension of the old city walls which was built to protect the city's quays. Nearby the Spanish Arch is the Galway city museum ( http://www.galwaycitymuseum.ie/ ), a museum with a variety of permanent and touring exhibitions showcasing Galway's rich history, science and arts. Also nearby is Galway harbour, bustling with sailing yachts and fishing boats.
Walking back direction Wolfetone Bridge, we visited the Fishery Watchtower museum. The tower was built in 1852 by the Ashworth Brothers. The building was used over more than 120 years to monitor fish stocks and illigal fishing activity and also served as a draft netting service station. Entrance is free and guided tours are available.
Afterwards, we headed towards Quay Street and Latin Quarter, Galway's busiest area. This area has an abundant selection of restaurants and pubs. We popped into Fat Freddy's for a quick lunch.
Galway is a vibrant city, from the street buskers to the interesting architecture to the colourful shops, there is loads to see.
One of these must visit shops is Charlie Byrne's bookshop ( http://charliebyrne.com/ ). Charlie Byrne's is an independent bookshops which stocks 100,000's of books covering every imaginable subject. The bookshop has multiple rooms which are stocked with books from floor to ceiling.
With our day drawing to an end, all we can say is that Galway is a must visit city along the Wild Atlantic Way. It is a city with a "village" character, large enough to allow you to discover new things, small enough to get around it in a day, sample the food, watch the buskers or enjoy the vibrant atmosphere.
About the Author
We are Peter & Dolores De Bie. We love the great outdoors, discovering new parts of the world and writing about our adventures along the Wild Atlantic Way and further afield