Nancy’s 1992 Journey to the British Isles

Nancy Gokey’s  2 ½ week journey to the British Isles was about to begin,  her and her mother  leaving their Columbia home,  spending the night at Don and sister Kay’s residence in Foster City.   Departure time, Nancy leaving her car for her return,  Kay then chauffeuring her sister to San Francisco International for the afternoon United Airlines flight to London.  United airlines,  having acquired Pan Am’s  overseas routes after the iconic airlines demise in 1991.  The adventure beginning,  an enthusiastic Nancy boarding the 747,  settling in for her 11 ½ hour nonstop journey to Heathrow airdrome.  she would not be alone in her quest,  good friend Monica Johnson would join her the following day in Tenby Wales.

It was a 7:40 morning arrival at London Heathrow, Nancy bustling with activity, going thru customs, then securing a bus for the 37 mile ride to the Reading railroad station.  Boarding the train for the one hundred sixty two mile,  5 hour excursion to Tenby Wales, the  starting point for viewing the scenic landmarks and  historic monuments of the United Kingdom. Arriving,  Nancy checking in at Ivy Bank Guest House for the nights lodging,  somewhat bushed with all that had transpired that day.

Nancy’s  day beginning with the sites of Tenby, finding the wall that enclosed the original 12th century town very impressive with its 4 gateways and several small towers, built in 1133.  in 1457, the walls were raised in height and widened to allow the garrisons movement.  The moat surrounding the town was also widened to a width of 30 feet.  She was somewhat disappointed when discovering all that remained of the 1133 Tenby castle on a rocky promontory facing the sea, was a token ruin.  Standing on Castle hill she could viewing the 2 ½ mile of pristine beach, Nancy humoursly rationalizing to herself,  it was the Santa Cruz of Wales.


Viewing the fort on St. Catherine  island from the beach, noting it was not accessible at times because of its isthmus status.  The fort being commissioned in 1859 as a defensive measure for the aggressive Napoleon the third,   but wasn’t built until 1870,  and by then the threat was gone, as was Napoleon the third.   On the way to lunch viewing the Deer Park Baptist church,  built in 1885, and upon entering, deciding the interior not as lavish as the exterior.

The Pembrokeshire Coast National Park consisted of 243 square miles of landscapes, rugged cliffs, sandy beaches, wooded estuaries, the moorland of the Preseli Hills and the wooded Gwaun valley.  Although it was on her list to see,  Nancy  accepting, there wasn’t enough time to take in everything.  Her  first stop was viewing  the Carew Castle, then moving on to the site where the Celtic ancestry lived and built their hilltop fortresses some 2,000 years ago.   Nancy soon discovering that Celtic heritage was integral to the national identity in Wales,   Welsh,  the Celtic language was still widely spoken and printed for use in  directional signs.

From the coast, she was able to view across the channel at the 13th century Abereiddy Tower.  Then moving on to the township of Saint  Davids  viewing  Saint Davids Cathedral.  The monastic community was founded by Saint David, Abbot of Menevia, in 500 A.D.      In 1081, the infamous William the Conqueror visited saint Davids to pray,  bestowing it as a holy sanctuary.  Later In 1115, King Henry the first of England in recognition, commenced the construction of a new cathedral and in 1123, Pope Callixtus the second  bestowed  a  papal privilege upon the cathedral, making it a center of pilgrimage, with a papal degree,  “Two pilgrimages to Saint Davids is equal to one to Rome.

Nancy returning to Tenby, the travel agency having made a reservation for two at the Boulston Cottage Guest House B&B. and with Monica arrival at 8:00 p.m. the air of enthusiasm abounded.  The morning found them saying good bye to Tenby, the two walking to the depot, boarding a train for the short 10 mile ride to Pembroke Dock and the ferry to Rosslare Ireland,  but on their arrival not expecting the 12 block walk to the Ferry terminal.  The four hour crossing taking much longer to Rosslare with  rain and rough seas.

Once again on firm ground, a stop at Budget car rental,  picking up their Renault Clio, but having an immediate problem, having to ask someone how to put it in reverse.  With directions in hand, the two arriving at the Clifford House B & B, built in 1898 as a Victorian summer house with beautiful landscaped gardens overlooking the Irish Sea.  It was getting late the two  walking to the Kilrane Pub and restaurant in the rain only to find,  because of the late hour the restaurant  had stopped serving,  deciding that Chips & Ale would suffice.

The two adventurers more than satisfied with the service at the Clifford House . a visit to the Johnstown Castle an eighteen minute drive.  The inaugural  castle and  tower house built in the late 12th century by the Esmonde family after the Norman invasion,,  The family,  Catholics, were expelled during the anti-catholic Cromwellian years in the sixteen hundreds,  the Brogan family taking possession.  In the eighteen hundreds,  the family created the Johnstown Castle as it stand today on the bones of the original castle.  The only disappointment,  as the Castle was Nancy’s favorite thus far,  was,  it wasn’t open to the public.  The exploration continuing, driving through Ferrycarrig to the Irish National Heritage Park, a parkland of 35 acres with estuary trails, and wetland forest.

Their first stop was to view the huts of the Neolithic settlers introduced cereal cultivars, better known as grains, and  domesticated animals such as cattle and sheep, plus the stone monuments.  Viewing an exhibit of the  Bronze Age,  beginning around 2500 B.C.  where people’s everyday life changed with the  innovations of the wheel,  the harnessing oxen, the weaving textiles.  A continuous march through history, viewing the results of a later Celtic ancestry, the building of  their ringforts, numerous  throughout all of Ireland, and then the arrival of the  Vikings in 795.  Nancy and Monica thoroughly enjoying their walking tour through Irish history, remaining for lunch on the grass at the park.

On the road again, stopping at  Ennscortly  to view the Ennscortly Castle,  Nancy and Monica entering, expecting to see 12th century furnishings, instead finding that each room was furnished according to a different time period in the castles history.  Some what disappointed, but recognized the importance of the display.   The two in the Renault Clio getting turned around, having difficulty finding their directions, but finally on the road to Waterford their next stop, an accessible seaport municipality of over 45,000 being the country’s oldest city,  founded by Vikings in 914 A.D.   the city being world renowned for its Waterford Crystal, the city’s glass and crystal making industry its legacy dating back to 1783.   The travelers B & B but a ten minute walk to the iconic Waterford glass factory,  the two entering and being introduced to the art of glass blowing.

The explorers on the road again, traveling from Waterford down the coast, then journeying west to Kenmare,  the  3 hour drive a little long, but enjoyable.  The change of scenery presenting a different view of Ireland, the rural life,  slowing for a farmer and his dog herding sheep on the road, and later another,  only with cattle.  Kenmare located at the head of Kenmare bay where the Roughty River flows into the sea. The entire area was granted to the english scientist Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell,  as part payment for completing the mapping of Ireland.  Arriving in Kenmare, the two having a need for directions and a bite to eat,  having red the signs for fine food and beverage at the sailor’s bar, Pub,  F. B. O’Sullivan’s, the two not hesitant, enjoying both the meal and the Irish Ale.

The Ring of Kerry is a hundred and eleven mile circular tourist route, running clockwise south from Killarney, following the highway to Kenmare, then the up  around the Lveragh Peninsula to Killorglin,  going through several hamlets before returning to Killarney. The scenic route takes in the sea coast beaches, Tore Waterfall,  Ross Castle, as well as other historic presentations.  the adventurers having entered the realm of the ring in Kenmare,  viewing the Greenland Circle of stones,  the site being  what is called a disturbed site,  at one time having nine stones standing, but only four remained.  The hour waning,  having secured directions to Misses Lovett’s Farm, 2 miles out of town,  their host for the nights lodging, it was time to call it a day.

The morning brisk sea breeze giving notice of where they were, viewing an unbelievable treasure,  the Kerry Cliffs,  poised 1000 ft. above the Atlantic, mother nature presenting an unprecedented landmark from an hostile desert environment 400 million years ago.    The Renault Clio continuing its  ring of Kerry drive,  introducing them to Ballinskelligs Castle,  more commonly known as McCarthy Mór Castle, but in reality, a Tower House built in the 16th century by McCarthy Mór.   it’s purpose was twofold. first to safe guard the bay from pirates, and the second was to see that incoming trade ships paid their tariffs.   The two travelers on their way to Kilarney, crossing the Sneem River,  taking notice of the picturesque  community of  Sneem.

With their arrival in Kilarney, they were somewhat surprised at its size of 13,000.  The citadel sitting on the banks of Lake Lough Leane, the largest of three nearby lakes, and home to Ross Castle.  After checking in at the Cottage guest house,  Nancy and Monica were ready for a night of relaxing, visiting Murphy’s bar and restaurant for dinner, and deciding to extend their night, remaining until eleven thirty,  listening to live traditional Irish Music.

After a clothes washday morning before checking out.   It was time to say goodbye to Ireland and Hello to Scotland, the two again heading north,  a four hour drive to Dublin,  the sea coast Irish capital.  the travelers having no difficulty finding their nautical destination,  the route was well marked with directional signs having a picture of a ferry on them.  Nancy and Monica also saying goodbye to the Renault Clio, parking their reliable transportation at the dock.  The petitioners of yesteryear boarding the Irish Ferry for Holyhead Scotland,  their voyage of discovery to continue,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: