Friday, January 12, 2018

Off to in Ireland and a New Travel Experience!

Continuing with our September trip…Bonnie, Bill, Laurie and me took a short shuttle ride over to the Edinburgh Scotland International Airport so we could catch our flight to Dublin Ireland.

Laurie ensured that I take this photo of this sign near our gate in the terminal… We’d like to “Haste” back, that’s for sure!

At least 143 destinations are served by Edinburgh’s Airport!  This includes 8 airports in the USA.  This airport served 12,300,000 passengers in 2016, with Dublin ranking fifth (with almost 600,000 passengers) after 3 London airports as well as Amsterdam in the Netherlands.

Laurie and I flew over to Scotland on American Airlines but for the short Edinburgh to Dublin leg of our trip, all four of us flew on an Aer Lingus twin engine propeller driven regional aircraft operated by Stobart Air.  This regional carrier flies to 18 different destinations for Aer Lingus…   

I’ve always liked high wing aircraft because passengers have a good view wherever they’re seated!  In addition to this ATR72-600, I’ve flown in a Short Skyvan, a de Havilland Twin Otter and a BAE 146…with the latter being a small 4-engine jet passenger plane.

Laurie took this photo from just under the wing right after taking off from Edinburgh.  At the right, you can see the new Queensferry Crossing Bridge over the Firth of Forth.  

Still over Scotland on our flight… Laurie captured this photo of a massive windfarm in the Scottish countryside.  I counted about 80 giant wind turbines just in this photo.  I’m all for renewable energy but one negative for wind farms is purely visual and the other is the problem of bird kills.  Wind turbines kill at least 140,000 birds each year in the USA…with some estimates 3 times that number...proving once again that positive change isn't always completely positive.

It didn’t take long before we’d crossed the Irish Sea between the United Kingdom and Ireland…and then we saw the Irish coastline!

Ireland has a population of about 4,800,000 with an area of 26,133 square miles.  In comparison, Scotland has roughly 5,400,000 residents and an area of 30,265 square miles.  We’re from the state of Tennessee in the USA and about 6,650,000 people live in the state.  Tennessee encompasses 42,181 square miles. 

I had avoided traffic around Edinburgh and Glasgow while in Scotland.  I couldn’t dodge it in Dublin!  The drive from Dublin’s International Airport to our hotel, mostly along the M-50 multi-lane highway (motorway) was a touch challenging…and it wasn’t even rush hour!

The Sheldon Park Hotel was our refuge for our first night in Ireland.  This hotel, with 132 rooms, was the largest that we stayed in while we were in the country.  It was fairly close to the M-50 ‘motorway’ which was one of the reasons that I’d chosen it.  Staying away from the city center cut costs and simplified driving.  It was also a great location for our exit from the metropolitan area.

The Sheldon Park Hotel has a huge well-appointed lobby with a very large bar at one side.  There is a restaurant, a leisure center and conference area.  Our only problem was that we arrived early and it took quite a while for our rooms to be readied for check-in. 

Given the fact that we had a wait on our hands, we found a table in Minnie McCabe’s Bar and started our exploration of Irish ‘brews’!  We ended up drinking a fair amount of Smithwick’s Irish Ale when traveling around the country. Very good indeed! We had some snacks in the bar as well, but they weren’t particularly memorable.

Our room was large with 2 queen beds…

The bathroom was adequate for our needs…but I was faced with another of those dang high sided shower tub combinations.  Just getting in and out of these wet showers/tubs is risky business!

The Sheldon Park Hotel is located at 131 Kylemore Road in Dublin Ireland.  Phone: 353 1 4601055.  To see some photos and to learn more about this conveniently located large hotel and its amenities, you can go to

Location, location, location!  The Sheldon Park Hotel is located just a couple of blocks from the Kylemore Stop on one of the Luas (Irish Gaelic for “speed”) light rail lines.  In the photo, Bonnie, Bill and Laurie are trying to figure out how to operate one of the automated ticket vending machines…

Now this tram/trolley ride may not be a new or interesting experience for many of you, but for me this was a chance to ride a modern light rail system...and into a major capital city outside the USA as well!

The Kylemore stop is on the “Red” Line.  There is a Green Line as well.  The Luas light rail system has 22.7 miles of track and 54 stations/stops along the way.  In 2016, Luas’s combined Red and Green Lines carried 34,200,000 passengers…for an average of over 93,000 per day!

Here is our tram arriving to pick-up a small crowd along with us.  It was Saturday night and most of the passengers were headed down to Dublin’s city center. 

This light rail system operates on a 750 V DC overhead power supply.  This silver 'Citadis' trams are manufactured by Alstom in La Rochelle France.  They reach a top speed of about 43 miles per hour wherever conflicts with other vehicles or pedestrians are unlikely.  These trams or trolleys cross through a lot of street intersections so cars and trucks can get in the way…

Our Luas “Citadis” tram car was roomy with some seating but, as you can see, it is primarily set up for standing room passengers.  Like with most big city forms of transportation, most riders don’t make eye contact.  The tram car was very clean and well maintained… 

The Citadis is a family of low-floor trams (streetcars) and light rail vehicles.  As of 2017, over 2,300 Citadis trams have been sold with ongoing operations with these railcars on all 6 inhabited continents.  In North America, operations are limited to Toronto and Ottawa Canada.

As you would expect, most of the areas that we passed through on the tram were residential or commercial, with little industry noted along the way.  I like trains and passenger rail service and, other than when we lived in Chicago, we’ve rarely experienced this mode of transportation.  This was an ‘adventure’ of sorts for all of us…

With a population of roughly 1,900,000, about the same as Nashville Tennessee, the Dublin greater metropolitan area is home to about 40% of Ireland’s population.  Although Dublin isn’t much larger than our state capital, there are major differences.  One fact that comes to mind is that Dublin was founded in the year 988 whereas Nashville was settled in 1779…a difference of ‘only’ 791 years!

In my next posting about our trip to Ireland, we’ll be exploring downtown Dublin on a Saturday night!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 


  1. It's a shame Americans have not embraced this form of travel.

  2. The lower estimate of birds in the USA is 10 billion. That means .0014% of birds are killed by turbines annually. For comparison, at least 89 million birds are killed by vehicle collisions in the US every year. Actually this link is pretty interesting for reference: Thanks for the research opportunity!

  3. Ireland is on my bucket list, friend Dave ... Thanks for sharing info ... Love, cat.