A Travellerspoint blog

March 2010


We went up to Miltown Malbay near Spanish Point on the west coast of County Clare, where David was booked to do several ‘red-eye’ shifts [midnight to 9am].
Fortunately, the doctor usually doing these shifts is a SA doctor who lives here with his wife, and they have gone to SA for a holiday. They kindly let us use their house, which is fantastic for us to have a 'home' for a while. We can cook and have our own space, which is so important to us after constantly being in somebody else's space. It also saves us loads of money in accommodation and meals. This became our base for three weeks, from where we made several trips across country to work in GP practices, returning each time to MM.
The first few nights were very quiet so David got several hours of sleep, while getting paid!

We are lucky to be 500m from the most beautiful beach at Spanish Point.
The icicles were still clinging to the rock-face on our beach walk at midday

The icicles were still clinging to the rock-face on our beach walk at midday

Just up the road, on the other side of Milltown Malbay, is White Strand beach, where Dusty the dolphin apparently comes to play with the bathers throughout the summer!

David has just finished a week in a GP practice on the Curragh near Kildare, which was very different to the first GP job. Here were lots more social problems among the patients; drugs and alcohol and teenage pregnancies, as it is an army camp community. The Curragh is a vast expanse of grassland extending over 5000 acres, which is rich in limestone. This is the reason that the area is renowned for breeding fine race-horses, as the limestone gives them strong bones. The nearby race-tracks of Curragh and Punchestown are very popular with the Irish.
Sandi had found us a good deal at the Carlton Abbey hotel in Athy [rhymes with fly, and Nye] about a 30 minute drive away.
The ancient gate-keep guarding the bridge over the Barrow river in Athy

The ancient gate-keep guarding the bridge over the Barrow river in Athy

Back in the house in Spanish Point, life is settling into a routine. It is beginning to feel like home. David works [or sleeps] at the ShannonDoc centre up the road at night, while Sandi braves the house alone, and we spend the daytime leisurely watching TV, going for walks if the weather is not too bad, corresponding, reading and cooking. The weather is freezing most days, and David has to scrape the ice off the windscreen of the van most mornings. Really can't wait to have a bit of proper sun in May, rather than this weak Irish excuse for a sun!

David took on a one-day locum for a GP in Enniscorthy, which entailed 4 hours driving in heavy rain and sleet to get there, and another 4 hours the next evening to get back. During a walkabout at lunch-time, he visited the cathedral, which was decorated inside with stencilled art; unusual and rather beautiful.
IMG_1927.jpgThe painted ceiling of the bell tower

The painted ceiling of the bell tower

After a couple more red-eye shifts in Miltown Malbay, we travelled across to Borris, Co Kildare, for 2 days in a GP practice. Borris is a pretty, rural village in the foothills of Mt Leinster, and we had a lovely view from our B&B over the valley, village and viaduct. The viaduct was built 150 years ago to carry logs by train down to Wexford, and apparently one of the longest in Europe.
IMG_1942.jpgIMG_1946.jpgThe fields are still covered in frost at 10 am!

The fields are still covered in frost at 10 am!

Brenda's B and B where we stayed

Brenda's B and B where we stayed

After another 2 days in a practice in New Ross, it was back to MM yet again [3 1/2 hours drive]. We took a drive up the coast to the nearby holiday resort of Lahinch, where there were dozens of surfers in the water.
IMG_1972.jpgIMG_1974.jpgA quaint-looking pub in Ennistymon

A quaint-looking pub in Ennistymon

We decided to have another look at the Cliffs of Moher, before we finally bid farewell to Co Clare, as we had only glimpsed them in foul weather on our last visit.
The view from above the cliffs across Lahinch Bay

The view from above the cliffs across Lahinch Bay

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

IMG_1986.jpgIMG_1987.jpgSandi in reflection, with the Aran islands in the background

Sandi in reflection, with the Aran islands in the background

Mr Stubby was also starting to sprout random spots of rust, so David decided this was a good time to do some patching up. It proved to be more tricky than he anticipated, because even on the sunniest day there was always a sea breeze, which blew the masking paper and paint all over the place! It was only by using the golf umbrella as a wind-barrier and waiting for brief lulls in the breeze, that the job got finished [certainly far from a professional-looking outcome!] Once again we had difficulty starting the van, but this time even a jump start did not help. We called the RAC, who sent a mechanic from Kilfenora, 20km away, who declared our battery was just not powerful enough for starting the van, when conditions were suboptimal. This made a lot of sense, as we often had starting problems when it was very cold or it had been standing for a few days. So after 3 hours of reshaping the battery bracket, and 170 euro later, we had a new, larger and more powerful battery. The end to our starting problems at last!
So bye for now, from the nomadic Nyes, as we continue on our freezing midlife-madness-meanderings!

Posted by davidsandi 09:31 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)


It was strangely familiar being back in Ireland again - 1 year on. We have nearly run out of money and need to work for the next 3 months to replenish the coffers. Many months after posting the blogs on our three months in Ireland last year, we eventually loaded the photos to illustrate them. You may wish to take this opportunity to have a look at some of those photos. The blogs about St Patrick's Day, In the sticks in Co Galway and Northern Ireland are particularly interesting. [For the dummies: click on Table of Contents and select a blog to view - the Irish ones are near the bottom.]

We started with a week at a very smart, modern, well-run practice in Dublin. We had to take a cut in pay as they refused to pay for accommodation, which they are supposed to, but as it was all arranged at the very last minute it was that or no job for the 1st week. So it was better than nothing.

Sandi had found us a good deal at the swanky Burlington Hotel, which was a 10 minute walk [mostly in the rain] to work for David. She has been doing an amazing job of finding us the best deals for accommodation, spending hours and hours on line. Accommodation has become even more expensive since we were last here, and hotel deals can be found on-line which are cheaper than B&Bs. Generally B&Bs are €40 pp [= €80 per night for both of us!], whereas we have now had two fancy 3-4 star hotels for €50-60 per room [without breakfast though]. The rooms are luxurious and spacious, and we smuggle our cup-a-soups, muesli, wine and take-aways into the rooms! When washing up the dishes, we make sure we leave no grease around the basin or on the towels! Another good 'hotel meal' we have found is smoked salmon [always on special at Lidl, a cheap supermarket], i.e. anything which doesn't need cooking can work in a hotel room!
Sandi can't decide whether to cut her hair or not

Sandi can't decide whether to cut her hair or not

Then we travelled down to Cashel where David had a few night shifts with CareDoc from 6pm to 9am. Sandi had found us a B&B close by.
There we were introduced to the fictional world of Peter Tremayne, who writes murder mysteries set in the 7th century in this part of Ireland. The main character is Sister Fidelma, who is a young, attractive and well-educated, Celtic Christian, who is trained as a dálaigh, or advocate, in ancient Brehan law, and who has a natural talent for solving crimes. The books also provide an absorbing perspective into a relatively unknown time in history, where the living conditions are primitive but the morals are admirable, and women have a highly respected and equal place in society. We were surprised to discover that there are websites, a large world-wide following, and an annual Sister Fidelma festival in Cashel.

The Rock of Cashel is an ancient home of kings and bishops, which we visited last year.
Nearby is Hore Abbey, which was captured from the Benedictine order by the Cisticercian monks in the 13th century, and now lies in ruins.
IMG_1888.jpgIMG_1894.jpgIMG_1895.jpgThe Rock of Cashel seen from Hore Abbey

The Rock of Cashel seen from Hore Abbey

Sadly the daffodils are not yet in bloom, as they were this time last year, due to the very inclement winter weather since October 09 - but hopefully they'll be blossoming soon, so that we can get lost in their abundance and beauty once again.

Posted by davidsandi 09:32 Archived in Ireland Comments (0)

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