Monday, June 27–Omagh, County Tyrone, Northern Ireland, Great Britain

Another wander around Donegal town; Donegal Castle; Omagh; Carphone Warehouse; four churches; dinner and a pint back at the hotel

Silverbirch Hotel

Black VW Passat sedan



Today was a much easier day in many ways, although right now I'm having the oddest stomach problems–cramping without having to go to the bathroom, for most of the day I felt much better than I did yesterday.

For what seemed like such a quiet room in my hotel in Donegal last night, I could hear loud music coming from somewhere until around 2 AM this morning which prevented me from going to sleep any earlier. I of course woke up before 7 anyway.

I didn't want to chance the hotel breakfast, so I had one of my Slimfasts instead, then showered and packed and was checked out of the hotel around 10 AM. I wandered around Donegal for an hour or so, first going back down around the corner to the little church where I had left the car to walk back up to the hotel to find out where the hell I was supposed to really park it. The church was closed, but the lovely church up the street and around the corner next to the castle was open so I went in and enjoyed it very much, as I did the castle itself.

In 1966, when I was ten, Disney released a movie called "The fighting prince of Donegal" based on an earlier novel about Red Hugh O'Donnell. Last night I was unable to find out when the novel originally came out because it was rereleased in 1976. Anyway, seeing that movie was probably my first introduction to anything Irish. Dad's grandparents were all from the Galway/Tuam area but we never heard anything about them. The woman at the reception desk when I was checking out had never heard of the movie, but the woman on the desk over at the castle sure had.

After I left the castle I wandered around the Diamond and went into the large crafts/souvenir store down towards the city pay lot where I had left the car after being given a stamped voucher for it back at the hotel. I saw a couple of very nice sweatshirts and jackets but couldn't find one that fit me. I need an extra-extra large, with sleeves that aren't too long or adjust at the wrist.

The only thing most people know about Omagh is the IRA terrorist bombing that occurred in the area in 1989. Outrage to the bombing was so strong and harsh, from the general public and also from within the Unionist and Nationalist communities throughout Ireland. It was the catalyst for the so far mostly successful peace process and it was the last major terrorist incident in the entire country, North and Republic. The CIE tour Mom sent me on ten years ago didn't actually come into the city of Omagh itself but we did go to the excellent Ulster-American Folk Park just outside of town.

I left Donegal town just about 11 AM. The route between there and my hotel here in Omagh which the Garmin sat nav sent me on had me driving on country roads most of the time, including about 30-45 minutes on a single lane road. Even then I wasn't out in the wilds somewhere. All throughout the trip I was obviously in well-tended farm country with the occasional house not too far apart and many of them were quite lovely and would be nice places to live. I didn't have that stretch of single lane road all to myself either, but was passed by eight cars going the other direction (I could see them coming far enough in advance that I was able to find a wider patch of road, pull as far out of the way as I could, and wait for them to go by, paranoid as I am), although the last three were quite close to the turn off onto a two lane road.

Somewhere on a downhill stretch on a two way road, I was passed by two trotting horses pulling their carriages and riders, closely followed by a third, and later a fourth and then a fifth a few minutes later. That was of course one of the times I wished I could take pictures of what I see when I'm driving along.

I got to my hotel here in Omagh, the Silverbirch, about 1 PM or a bit earlier. It's a newer hotel, with its own proper car park, and looks like they're adding a wing and doubling the size. It's a rather nice looking building and the reception desk is in a beautiful glass area that was extremely pretty the last time I went through it after dinner. The Silverbirch is about a twenty minute walk from the nearest part of downtown, and there's not really much of anything in the immediate area except for a small Spar grocery/convenience store, the much larger attached liquor store, called an "off license" around here because they have a license allowing them to sell liquor you can buy there and take elsewhere to drink, and the local branch of the Northern Ireland fire & rescue service. The hotel makes up for not having much in the immediate area by having its own quite nice bar/lounge/restaurant area, where I had a very good lunch after checking in and before even bringing my stuff into my room. My room, 123, is fairly large with a good size bathroom and shower in a tub, a small table where I have my laptop as well as what could be either a makeup table or desk, and lots of places to plug things into.

After unpacking I stretched out to read for a while, and although I don't think I fell asleep then it felt good to just get some rest. I headed back out around 4:30 or 5, or maybe a bit later, and walked on into town to see if there was anywhere I might want to have dinner while I was there.

Omagh is a lovely town, and I really enjoyed what I saw of it. I walked from here past a very nice park adjacent to some county government buildings which were also pretty, and on into the town center past a surprisingly attractive bus depot to the main street, High Street. At the intersection of High Street with the street I'd come down from the hotel on is a Carphone Warehouse. Seeing the store made me decide to go in and see if they had a portable dashboard mount for my Irish Android smart phone since I sometimes use Google Maps on it if the Garmin sat nav doesn't list where I want to go, and have so far only been able to just listen to in. They did, so I bought one. I went a few blocks further along the street, and saw several pubs and cafes and coffee places that looked like they were nice places but I wasn't in the mood for anything yet, and as in Derry I wasn't going to have anything alcoholic until I'd walked back up the hill to my hotel. Since I was going by the Carphone Warehouse again, I went back in to buy a power adapter to plug the phone into the car's cigarette lighter/power socket when I'm using Google Maps on it.

I then continued along the street, up the hill to the courthouse and on up to the four churches. I took pictures of them all, but the only one I went into was the first one because it was obviously open since the front door was ajar. All the other three churches looked closed, and the gates were fastened shut on a couple of them, so I just headed back the way I had come and back up the hill to my hotel. I stopped at the Spar next door to pick up some chips, cookies, and a box of resealable bags which I've wished I had earlier. I haven't seen any of the zip-top bags so common back home, nor did I see any when I was in London last August. These have a kind of seal and peel closing,.

When I hadn't seen any place I really wanted to check out for dinner while in the city center, I decided to just have dinner back here at the hotel, and I had a very nice meal and dessert about 7:30. Since dinner I've just been hanging out here in my room. I watched a video of one of my programs, TimeTeam, on my Irish Android smart phone before I started typing my notes up from today.

I still can't get connected to the Internet through this hotel's wifi, and think I somehow changed a setting somewhere in Windows. I need to go online using either my Android smart phone or my Kindle Fire and have a tech from Microsoft call me on my US iPhone sometime in the next coupe of days but for now am OK using the Irish Android smart phone, or my iPhone or my Kindle fire to check my email and access the Internet instead.

There are three places I want to go here in the Omagh area tomorrow morning before heading on over to Sligo, back in the Republic of Ireland again, for the night. The two places other than the Ulster-American Folk Park are the An Cragan cultural centre and the Gortin Glen Forest Park. I need to check my map & atlas to see where they all three are in relation to each other and what order it would be best to go to them on the way out of town, and then go to bed and I hope sleep much earlier than I did last night.

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