The heritage town of Carlinford is beautiful, sitting at the base of the Cooley Mountains overlooking Carlingford Lough. Lough, meaning lake or bay, is pronounced lok. We didn't plan on going to Carlingford, but after reading the guide book we decided to wing it. Another great reason to rent a car.
Carlingford was established by the Vikings and still follows medieval street patterns, and is overseen by a massive 13th century castle. On the heights above the town, the ancient Irish folk hero Cuchulainn is said to have single-handedly defeated the armies of Ulster in an epic battle. The link is interesting, stating Cuchulainn was a fierce fighter, going into beserker frenzies we often read about in fiction.
Afterwards, we drove to Trim, County Meath and walked around the outside of Trim Castle. It's massive! In 1172, Norman lord Hugh de Lacy occupied the site and built the enclosed cruciform keep. In the 13th century it was enlarged, but by the 17th century it lay in ruins until Mel Gibson chose it for a setting in his movie Braveheart.
In 1971, excavators discovered a gruesome sight- the remains of 10 headless men. Historians believe the bodies date back to the 15th century, a time of high crime. King Edward ordered that all robbers should be beheaded.
We were out late sight-seeing and ended up driving down winding, dark roads to our bed and Breakfast, The Harbour Master's House, built on the Grand Canal in Shannon Harbour. It took hours but the drive was memorable.
View from the back balcony.
The pub we visited until after one in the morning. The Irish are friendly, welcoming people and it wasn't long before we made some new friends that kept us out too late. We left at 1am but the pub was lively and showed no signs of closing. Tables were moved aside so the townsfolk could play darts. After two pints of Guinness, I didn't trust myself to throw sharp objects so I just watched. :D
View from front door of the bed and breakfast.
Each place we visited, we were sure it was the most picturesque, awe inspiring place we'd ever been, but every day we were surprised at the breathtaking scenery.
More to come, and as they say in Ireland: Slainte!