Tag Archives: Ireland

While In Dublin – National Museum Of Ireland – Natural History

Natural History Museum Dublin
CC image courtesy of New Chemical History via Flickr

An absolutely fascinating display of animals from Ireland and around the world awaits you in the Natural History museum in Dublin. Opened in 1857, it is described perfectly by the pamphlet as a “cabinet style zoological museum” and mention is made that the collection on display has changed little in the last century.

My favorite exhibit in the museum stares down at you in the form of three massive giant Irish deer skeletons that greet you upon entering. As you start to imagine a world in which these animals are roaming the country side, you look down a seemingly endless row of display cabinets.

The collection continues on the second floor, even more tightly packed than the first. Each step you take creaks on the wood floors that are more than likely well over a hundred years old. Staring at you from every angle are bison, apes, sloths, koalas, polar bears – and when you look up you see yet another two levels of display cases lining the walls, inaccessible due to current safety regulations.

And if all that weren’t enough, a massive 66 foot long fin whale skeleton hangs above the room for inspection.

If you have the chance to enjoy this now, do. Messaging inside the museum implies that a new building is being readied and the collection will soon be moved and expanded. There is no doubt that this will enable a more extensive display, but one can imagine that some of the charm of standing in a 19th century museum will fade away.

The museum is open every day but Monday, and admission is free. One could quickly browse the entire collection in 20 minutes or find themselves staring at different species of Irish birds for days.

The Bus To Dungarvan

The owner of Captain Halpin’s Bunkhouse in Wicklow, knowing that we were without a car, looked at us with surprise when she asked where we were headed next and heard Dungarvan.

A slight look of disbelief came across her face until I rattled off the bus numbers.

“We’ll be on the 2 to Enniscorthy, the 5 to Waterford, and then the 40 to Dungarvan.”

Once she saw that we had done our homework, her face relaxed. As long as you know the buses you’re taking in advance, Bus Eireann does a great job of getting you almost anywhere you want in the country.

And so we made our way down to the bus stop across the street from the Grand Hotel in Wicklow at about 9:15 with plenty of time to spare. The bus pulled around the corner just a minute after schedule and we loaded our bags into the luggage area underneath.

We climbed onto the bus and the driver asked where we were headed.

“Two singles to Dungarvan.”

The bus driver gave us a familiar look of surprise and I started to cringe. He did however quickly agree that it was possible as long as we knew we were changing buses a couple of times. He took out his book to look up the routes and zones, typed them into his fare calculator and we were good to go.

At €23.50 each.

Really not too bad when you think that we’re taking 3 buses over a period of 4 hours and working our way across a good part of the country.

The bus started off almost empty. Even after the next two stops, only a couple more passengers boarded. Also, surprising enough, this bus had more leg room than the one we had taken down from Dublin the other day.

Gorey was the first stop with some real action. Several people got off the bus and a good ten or so boarded. As we pulled away from the stop, the sun broke through the clouds. This was welcome to us as the forecast had called for a rainy day. We continue to be surprised at how much sun we’ve been blessed with over the last week. Doesn’t seem characteristic of Ireland at all.

Pulling into Enniscorthy, it is immediately apparent that this is a major hub. Busy streets are routed around the river through town with at least two bridges in a short space. If it were expanded out a few kilometers, it could be much like Dublin. It was here that we disembarked the first bus to make our connection to Waterford.

There was a slew of people lined up in front of the Bus Stop Shop on one of the main drags by the time our bus arrived. From the brief look at the timetable, several other Bus Eireann routes head through frequently and the airport coach from Dublin to Wexford stops as well. It does make sense with direct enough roads going in each direction out of town that it is such a hub.

After waiting about 25 minutes, we boarded our next bus without event and started on our way again. As we left Enniscorthy, it definitely felt like we were climbing a lot. Every so often we broke through the hills and trees at the same time the sun broke through the clouds and greeting us were beautiful rolling hills of green lit up with spots of yellow from the gorse. A very gorgeous portion of the ride indeed.

Waterford is as big as you’d probably expect from looking at the map and being familiar with Waterford Crystal. A big town, and the first bus station of our trip. We had about a 20 minute wait for the next bus here, so we took that opportunity to eat the sandwiches we had packed up the night before.

The route 040 bus that picked us up in Waterford continued the trend and was smaller than the one before. This also happened to be the shortest leg of the day’s journey. Although short, the roads were able to rock me to sleep almost immediately.

A fantastic view greeted us when we came over the last hill and started working our way down into Dungarvan. The sea and the bay were surrounded by hills and you could see the beauty even through the slight haze of the afternoon cloud cover. We were excited to arrive and headed straight to the tourist information center to check on the location of the hostel we were looking for and to see if any other hostels were in town. An “out to lunch, back at 2pm” sign greeted us but soon after a lady came in and unlocked the door. We asked about the hostel and she seemed a little surprised that we were there.

There are no more hostels in Dungarvan.

Ahh. That would explain why the webpage with daily rates was from 2003. Apparently they shut down 2 years ago and there are no other hostels. This is a little surprising as Dungarvan seems to be pushing towards a tourist clientele, but it may be that the general backpacker doesn’t make it down this way too often.

So the post title changes. The Bus To Youghal it is.

We still had some time to pass, so we found a small cafe up the narrow stairs of a building on one of the side streets in town. After a coffee, soda, and two rhubarb tarts, we were ready to go.

The bus stop out is the same one as the way in, so we didn’t have to work too hard. After waiting around 10 minutes, we saw the bus come through the roundabout.

At this point, things got a little confusing. I asked the bus driver for 2 singles to Youghal and when he replied with the price, my brain did the math to be a total of €26, which seemed way too high a price to pay just to go 20 or 30 km. I asked for the fare to Cork instead and with a sigh or a grumble, he gave me a price of €32. In hindsight, I am pretty sure I miscalculated the first price, and it was a lot cheaper, but I didn’t want to get stuck paying another €20 to get to Cork if there was no lodging in Youghal.

Some money lost, maybe a lesson learned, we purchased our fares to Cork and got off the bus a short ride later in Youghal.

The trip wouldn’t be complete without a bit of effort, however.

Assuming that the town of Youghal was small in comparison to others in the area, we got of the bus at the first stop and started to walk into the town centre with our packs.

A couple kilometers later, we started to wonder. The little flier we had was not only unclear about the location, it was also not to scale. When we did finally reach the beach on the other side of town, we gave in and decided to call.

Actually I should say that I gave in. I’m pretty sure that Michelle was ready to call soon after we started walking.

There was no answer at the hostel number, but another number was given. At the second number, we reached a woman who was out of town but was able to give us her husband’s number and the code to enter the hostel and drop off our bags. Luckily enough, it was then that we also found out the hostel was only another block or so away.

We walked into the hostel and dropped or bags off before calling the third number. When we did, we reached a man who was due to be back in town within an hour or so. He told us that we were welcome and to pick a room and put our bags there.

And that is how we got to Youghal.

Things I Learned In Youghal, Co Cork, Ireland

Youghal is a beautiful town so far with an immense amount of history. Tomorrow we’ll have a chance to explore more, but a few things have already been learned in the last few hours.

  1. Youghal is pronounced ‘Yawl’. Or at least according to some flier we saw today. I don’t think it’s as easy a pronunciation as the y’all that Americans may be familiar with, but similar.
  2. There is more than one bus stop in Youghal, and only one hostel. The hostel is very close to a bus stop, but on the opposite side of a very long town from the first bus stop. If you get off at the first stop, near ‘town centre’, you will enjoy a log walk.
  3. Beamish is not a bad stout. In fact it was interesting enough to try again, even though my brain is wired for Guinness. It was also €0.60 cheaper than other stouts at the time of our visit, so that may have played a part.

There you have it. Another post is forthcoming detailing other things I’ve learned today, but these have just appeared in Youghal.