Hi, I'm Lucy from mystaddublin.nl† On my blog I write about the beautiful places in Dublin & Ireland† When I started the blog a few years ago, I didn't know how much I would become attached to this beautiful country. In a new series'Discovering Ireland', I write Wereldreizigers.nl about places in Ireland I recently visited. Ballina & Easky are the first destinations in the series.
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By bus through the heart of Ireland
Before the lockdown I took the bus from Dublin to the town Home in County Mayo. A drive of more than four hours took me through the heart of Ireland, the stop in the villages along the way gave me a nice insight into this middle part of farming Ireland. Although everyone here usually takes the car to get from A to B, Ireland has excellent bus connections from Dublin to the corners of the country. Just don't mind being on the road a little longer. I took bus 22 (the Expressway) from the bus station in the center of Dublin to Ballina in North West Ireland (Mayo). What I thought would be a long, boring trip turned out to be a nice trip through cozy villages and along farm fields.
Ballina is so cute! I walked from the bus station to the shopping streets, and ended up in the pleasant Saturday afternoon crowds. Traffic was heavy, and on the street I was walking between mostly families and teenagers.
After a cup of coffee I walked to the river, because that is the showpiece of the 'salmon capital'. The wide Moy River provides bread for many here. Beautiful, that fast flowing river, with the St. Muredach's Cathedral along the side.
As I continued on, I passed two fishermen and came to the point where the Moy meets the smaller River Brosna. You can clearly see that space is being given to the rivers here, because if they don't, floods would be catastrophic.
I turned left into Riverslade and saw green lawns partly submerged. I ventured over the wall and walked until it got soggy, because with the sun it was a beautiful sight and I wanted to enjoy it at a picnic table. After this I walked back and followed Downshill Road along the Brosna. No open lawns, but through woody vegetation I could see the flood defenses.
When I told about my trip to Ballina in Dublin, someone immediately mentioned football hero Jack Charlton. Because of his achievements for the national football team, 'Big Jack' – despite his English nationality – has been elevated to an Irish hero. The first time in Ballina he came to fish, and then bought a house here with his wife. Because he had warm contact with the residents of Ballina and always stopped for a chat, the residents took Jack in their hearts and paid their respects after his passing in July this year.
On Sunday I wanted to make the trip to Ballycastle and Downpatrick Head, where the special, detached rock formation can be found. But on Sundays this bus does not run, and then you notice that a car offers many more options. Don't worry, I also wanted to visit the town of Easkey and luckily that bus went on Sunday.
Easkey is located on the Atlantic Ocean in the neighboring county of Sligo. Time has stood still a bit in Easkey, most of them live on a farm here. Besides the cows and calves I got to know the village donkey. I don't know what he thought of me, but I liked him a lot. The village has a heritage center, a few pubs and small shops. You can sit comfortably along the river. After a fifteen minute walk, I came to Easky pier and O'Dowd Castle. It is the ruins of the castle built in 1207 of the O'Dowd clan chiefs.
The Rebellion of 1798
According to a resident I spoke to, the most eloquent piece of history was the 1798 Rebellion, in which the Irish, led by Theobold Wolfe Tone, managed to get French soldiers on their side against the British. Three ships with a total of a thousand soldiers arrived in Ballina for this. After initial successes, the Irish-French troops had to surrender to the British. The French kept their headgear on the tip of their swords to surrender and they were made prisoners of war. The Irish were not given this status, and most were killed on the spot.
Wild Atlantic Way
Ballina, Ballycastle and Easkey lie along the Wild Atlantic Way. This route goes along the entire west coast of Ireland and has fifteen points of interest, so-called 'signature points'. Although you can get a long way in Ireland by bus, you really need a car for the beautiful places along the coast. Or a bicycle.
My return ticket from Dublin to Ballina cost 31 euros, and the return is valid within a month. A single ticket costs 22 euros. A single journey took, without delay, 4.15 minutes.