Ninette Bahne

creating and inspiring in my little corner of the world

Our trip to Ireland & Worldcon

It was an eager pair of travelers who set out for Dublin in the middle of August – myself and my 16-year old son, both first timers to Ireland.
We stayed at an airport hotel, and the next day we met with the rest of the gang.

Our first stop: the waterfalls near Powerscourt – much more impressive in person than it looks like in my pictures! The water falls from the cliff sides in a valley that looks like straight out of a fairy tale – green and luscious and so, so beautiful. Definitely a must see in this region!

We had lunch at Powerscourt, indoors as it started pouring. There were so many rain showers when we were at Ireland – no wonder they have stories about rainbows and Leprechauns!

Onwards to our castle,  Wilton Castle

This was such a lovely place, quiet and peaceful and perfect as a writing retreat.

I want a shed like this in my garden! (there’s a wheelbarrow inside the shed/tower)

A castle of our own would also be nice!

Boardgames, impromptu disco, walking at Glendalough, lots of conversations and happy times

People brought with them specialties from their home countries. We brought Fazers Blå, Finnish milk chocolate. One of the Americans treated us to chicken & waffles – a real meal, despite how outlandish it sounds! Fried chicken with syrupy waffles…!

The castle was just perfect for a large group of people.

Some people even got some writing done! (not me!)

We went and saw Hook Lighthouse – saw this odd shed there ”Detonator store”. Kind of want one of those in my garden too! Would be nice to blast away at roots or something 🙂 (need a bigger garden for that though! And not live in the city! But a girl can always dream…)

…and we saw so many rainbows!

Then off to Bunratty Castle – which was so small some of us first didn’t even believe we were actually seeing the real castle! Noel and I decided to skip that so we just sat and had some tea and cake at a nearby pub.

Then onto the Cliffs of Moher – Ireland’s number one tourist spot. And boy, were there many tourists there!

Too many people for my taste – you can’t perhaps see it in this picture, but all those tiny dots along the ridges are people!

Many cows too – I love that there was cattle almost everywhere we went!

The cliffs look really beautiful in the pictures, but in reality we had to stand there with thousands of other people.

Then we were off to Inis Mor – one of the best parts of the trip.

The landscape there was just amazing!

Rugged terrain, the wind, the sound of the ocean – it was a place that soared through your soul and made its mark.

We stayed at a lovely B&B with lots of cows nearby!

One of the sitting rooms.

Dun Aonghasa was just a short walk from the B&B – an amazing fort.

Then a bus ride and a train ride later we were in Dublin.

I love the design of this bridge, the Samuel Beckett bridge – it looks like a harp!

The CCD, the convention center where WorldCon was held.

We attended as many panels as we could – and the rest of the time we stood in line, hurried between places or went looking for a place to have lunch.

The AirBnB that we stayed in was really lovely – a small apartment right in the Temple Bar district. I thought the noise of the nighttime revelers would disturb my sleep, but nope – it turned into background noise after a while, and became really comfortable.

The pub next door.

The Temple Bar district was really lovely. We didn’t have that much time to enjoy it though – most of our time was spent hurrying to or from the CCD.

The most Irish of scenes – the unloading of a Guinness truck!

Then it was time to go back home after a great trip to Ireland.

Bye, bye Ireland! Hope to see you again!

Hook Lighthouse – the oldest still working lighthouse

On our visit to Ireland, I went on a small excursion to Hook Lighthouse, the oldest still manned lighthouse in the world.

The lighthouse looks modern on the outside, but on the inside it looks kind of like the old churches where I live – it’s from the 13th century, just like those buildings, and was built using the same techniques.

The nature around the lighthouse is simply astounding! Ragged cliffs hollowed out by the salt water and the winds, with just a few dots of wild flowers here and there. 

It was breathtakingly beautiful and such a balm for the soul to stand there, listening to the wind and the waves!

The view from up the lighthouse was amazing as well – notice the rainbow! We saw so many rainbows while in Ireland, which is not surprising – the weather could mainly be described as ”four seasons in one day”.

The view from above was spectacular

You would never believe the lighthouse has been around for so many centuries!

The landscape had a stark beauty that really appealed to me.

And the cliffs!

The lighthouse was definitely worth a visit, both for the environs and from the view from above.

The weather was really lovely all the time, rain or sunshine or inbetween!

Glendalough – so beautiful and calm!

We went for a lovely walk when visiting Glendalough – a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland.

First stop, a monastery with an old cemetery.

The cemetery is still in use, new headstones mixing with old.

We walked around the lakes, a really lovely walk along broad pathways.

We passed some sheep. I have no idea how many sheep we saw while on Ireland! So many sheep everywhere, and cattle and horses and donkeys…!

Finally we ended up at the Miner’s village. They mainly used to process ore here, not mine as much.

It was a really wonderful day, with just the right amount of sun and clouds!

This landscape reminded me a lot of home, where we have a lot of rocks left behind by the glaciers.

Far too soon it was time to go back to the bus – a really lovely walk chatting with friends from the group, and a wonderful day to remember!

 

 

Inis Mor & Dun Aonghasa

On our trip to Ireland, we got to visit Inis Mor – one of the Aran Island. It was amazing!

We arrived in the harbor and rented some bikes. Noel and I both got mountain bikes, and we were so grateful for that! The paved roads were fine for any bike, but the smaller roads were really rocky and hard to traverse.

We set off biking and took a wrong turn, and accidentally happened to get almost to the Black Castle! The views there were spectacular.

The landscape on Inis Mor is definitely something else, almost out of this world. Long, flat cliffs, eroded by winds and the water from the Atlantic.

I thought these cliffs were just as amazing as the Cliffs of Moher, if not more, because here we were almost alone in nature!

You can hear yourself think a lot clearer when not surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people (like it felt when at the Cliffs of Moher). Or rather, you can almost not hear yourself think, because the noise of the waves and the wind was so loud!

It was amazing to hear the sound of the waves coming from far away, to see the spray extend all across the edges of the cliffs tens of meters up into the air!

We left our bikes further away from the cliffs – it was nearly impossible to bike all the way out to the ledge, and I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to! It felt a bit scary to stand there so near the edge and a huge drop into the cold Atlantic, with harsh winds throwing us this way and that.

The landscape on Inis Mor is really pretty with old rock walls everywhere, I’m guessing both aiding to know which property is whose, and also shelters the cattle a little bit from the wind.

Lots and lots of these lovely rock walls!

We met quite a few donkeys and horses along the way!

The main roads are paved and easy to bike on – except when the winds in your face, trying to push you back to where you started from!

Nice horsey, looked content to stand there and stare at everyone who biked past and took pics. There were quite a few of us! Inis Mor has about a thousand inhabitants, and hundreds of thousands of visitors every year!

We finally arrived at the small village where our B&B was located. The shops open and close when the owners feel like it!

Kilmurvey house – definitely worth a recommendation! The lady who owned the place was so nice, and our room was great and breakfast excellent.

From Kilmurvey house, it was just a small trek up the cliffs to visit Dun Aonghasa – a very impressive looking Stone Age fortress.

We walked up to the fort in very windy conditions – if I ever come here again, I’ll wish for a tad bit less wind! It was so windy, we almost thought we would fly off into the Atlantic Ocean!

According to Wikipedia, the holder of all knowledge, the fort was originally built 1000 meters away from the ocean.  The sea levels lowering means us nowaday-people get a whole other experience of the fort!

The cliffs are about 100 meters high here – and with the very windy weather we actually had sea spray hit us from down below!  The waves hitting the cliffs were huge, and the sound was just amazing. It was such a rush!

The stuff of nightmares, and also of so much inspiration -it’s no wonder Kilmurvey House sometimes houses Writer’s retreat! The location is just brimming with inspiration for all kinds of art!

The fort itself mainly consists of rebuilt rock walls, fitting on this particular island!

The next day we biked back to the harbor and the ferry leaving for Galway.

This time we took the low road, and saw a lot of cattle, horses, donkeys and birds – there’s a really lovely little lake along the road that has a lot of wild birds.

All the signs are in Irish on Inis Mor, which is part of the Gaeltacht,  the places where Irish is still spoken as a mother tongue (rather like ”Svenskfinland”, I imagine, the parts of Finland where Swedish is predominantly spoken).

Then it was back to the harbor and the ferry back to Galway.

Inis Mor and Dun Aonghasa was amazing, and I so hope to visit the island again some time in the future!

 

Wilton Castle – I want to live there!

The first few nights of our trip to Ireland were spent at Wilton Castle, Wexford, an amazing location in the Irish countryside.

The castle usually caters to weddings, I think. We were really fortunate that we got to rent the whole castle for our stay! It was the perfect place for a writing retreat, not that I got much writing done! (I managed to write zero words – a record for me! I usually compulsively write something every day, but this time I decided I would take a vacation)

My firstborn and I shared this lovely room! The castle had several renovated suites of rooms – all of them so lovely and luxurious!

It was amazing walking along the long corridors, peeking into room after room elegantly furnished and renovated.

The castle burned down in the 1920s, but a huge part of it has been beautifully restored since. I loved the way they managed to mix the old ruins with the newer – you always had this feeling of history, despite all the new materials, which I loved!

I especially loved the little reading nooks that were found throughout the castle. Not that I spent that much time sitting in them! I mainly watched the cows through the windows, or admired the nook on my way to the dining room to play board games or have dinner with our fellow travelers.

The castle has a charming narrow staircase, that reminds me of a lot of English period dramas! I wonder what it was like ”back in the day” – did they have another staircase for the downstairs people, or did they too use this one?

I had googled Wilton Castle so many times before our trip, wondering if it looked as great in real life as it did in the pictures – and it did! Or rather – I thought it was even more impressive in person than in the pictures.

You sort of can’t take in the impression the surroundings make on you as you come to the castle – narrow roads bordered by stone walls and hedges, that resemble green tunnels, and cattle everywhere!

The environs were so tranquil and lovely – this is an ideal place for a bigger group for anything, in my opinion! I wouldn’t mind living here myself!

Look at the lamps! I really liked all the lamps in the castle. 

 

Yup, this might well be our dream home! (or one of them – Ireland turned out to be filled with lots of our dream homes!)

 

Greetings from Ireland!

That was an intense 10-days and nights spent in Ireland! My firstborn and I joined a gang of writers (most of whom I met on the WXR two years back) to travel the Irish countryside and attend Worldcon 2019 in Dublin. What a rush! It was such a great trip and I’ve got so many impressions running through my mind all the time now, that I kind of need some time to process everything.

I’m leaving you with a sneak peek at our trip – it was such an amazing time!

Our first Worldcon (but not our last, it seems!)

Being the only Finns at the cruise (WXR2017), we kept getting the same obvious question: ”So, you’re going to Worldcon?”. But no, we had no idea if we were going or not. We kind of used up all our babysitting hours on the cruise (10 nights away from Mum and Dad will do it!) and thought that we would see in what state the kids were when we came home before making any Worldcon decisions. Luckily, amazingly, the kids had a great time when we were away, and all the preparing we did beforehand really paid off. It is not easy to leave your kids when they have a trauma background, but this time it worked. The ship didn’t sink, Mum and Dad were still alive and healthy, if with a bit of a sore throat, and everyday life could continue. We had some meltdowns, but not major ones, so we decided to roll the dice and attend Worldcon on Thursday.

After bribing the younger kids with them getting to go as Leia and Luke, we set off for Helsinki. And we had such an amazing day!

It started off with a grumpy Mum, i.e. me, not liking Messukeskus, the place where the convention was held. Everything was so confusing and the maps didn’t really help. I get really annoyed when people don’t organize things properly! (by the way – there was nothing in the organizing of the Writing Excuses Cruise to get annoyed by. Everything went smoothly, and the organizers immediately fixed every little glitch). The maps were confusing, the signs were confusing, and the rooms were too small for the amount of people who attended. We walked round looking for the panel we  wanted to attend, and when we finally found it, it was full. That was to be the story of the day. People stood in line for ages for some of the panels, and then half the people of the line got turned away.

The kids found a book, yay!

Nalo Hopkinson! And our Leia!

But despite that we had a great time! We met so many people from the cruise, and it was amazing to see them in Finland of all places. We were surrounded by fellow geeks and got to see our idols (our eldest: GRRM, myself: Nalo Hopkinson).

Happy teenager after listening to his first panel discussion – the only regret was that he didn’t get a picture of himself with Ken Liu (it’s now on his bucket list!)

Our boys even attended a workshop led by Robin Hobb! They have no idea who she is, but I was star-struck! She is the reason I even read fantasy – I had read lots when I was little, but when I was growing up in the eighties it felt as if fantasy as a genre had become lackluster and just spit out the same plots over and over again (like David Eddings and Terry Brooks) . But not Robin Hobb. I am an omnivore when it comes to reading, but at one time I almost gave up on the fantasy genre. Except for Robin Hobb’s books, because they were just that great and had that certain something that set them off. So she is one of the biggest reasons I kept reading fantasy books, and kept discovering new things about them, and finally got to the Writing Excuses Cruise and Worldcon 75. (Her short story ”Neigbors” is one of the best short stories there is, in my opinion, about a woman with Alzheimer’s – look it up under Megan Lindholm!)

This girl had amazing contacts! So many amazing costumes at the convention

It was so fun to attend Worldcon with our whole family. The kids were photographed all day long, and women kept coming up to our Leia and curtsy and say: ”Your majesty”. She posed for so many pictures, happy as a salmon as we say in Swedish!

Happy teenager with a new Tardis-mug in the bag

We went home with a car full of sleeping kids and memories, and with a teenage son who is adamant that we have to start saving up for our next Worldcon! Hopefully in Dublin in two years time

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