Today was a pretty good day, and although the weather was mostly cloudy with the very occasional light sprinkle there were sunny spots throughout the day and the evening was quite lovely.
I had a bit of mild stomach problems this morning, and didn't get checked out of my room until shortly before 11 after having one my Slimfasts for breakfast.
When I looked at the map last night, it seemed that it would be easiest to go to the Gortin Glen Forest Park first, then to the Ulster-American Folk Park, and finally out to An Creagan before making the hour and a half drive here to Sligo.
Gortin Glen was pretty amazing. When I got there, I thought it would be just a nice 5 mile drive through the woods but it was a one way trip along a paved logging road that went up into the Sperrin Mountains outside of Omagh, and the scenery was often spectacular. I saw hikers I think three times during the course of the five miles and at least once they seemed to have full camping packs on. You had to drive slowly and carefully because the road was narrow, barely a car wide, very bendy, and quite hilly. It really reminded me of driving through the Tillamook Natural Forest back home in Oregon. Since I could see no traffic behind me, I had no problem stopping the car to take pictures when I wanted to.
The Ulster-American Folk Park is on the same side of town as Gortin Glen. It was very much like I remember it being when I was there with the CIE tour ten years ago, except I think the main visitors center is new since then. There were several school groups there at the same time I was but most of the time I managed to not be in the same place as they were at the same time. I don't know if it's new since my visit ten years ago, but today I was just in time for a performance of a short musical about the famine. The music was excellent and all five of the characters had excellent voices, the three women most especially. I got there just as the show started, however, and was at the back of the seats behind all the school kids who kept poking up like a bunch of merecats. I then had lunch in the café there at the Folk Park.
An Creagan is on the other side of Omagh from the Folk Park and Gortin Glen, about 12 kilometers out into the countryside. It's rather an odd place and I probably didn't give it as much time as it actually deserves. There's a small restaurant/café, small gift shop, very small exhibit area, and the offices for the holiday cottages they rent, and that's it for the inside stuff. An Creagan bills itself as a Irish bog interpretation center. Right by the main buildings and entrance there's a reconstruction of a small Iron Age round house. There are also at least two trails from there, one going out into the nearby forest and one into the bogland. I'm not sure how long the trails go for, and didn't go far from the entrance because I wanted to leave for the hour and a half drive to Sligo before too late, but I did take the path into the bogland for a bit and it was pretty interesting and actually rather pretty.
The Garmin GPS did find Gortin Glen, the Ulster-American Folk Park, and An Creagan but didn't find my hotel, the Great Southern in Sligo town, so I had to use Google Maps on my Irish Android smart phone using my new temporary dashboard mount for it.
The trip from An Creagan took me back through Omagh once again, and as usual through the Irish countryside and mountains. I think the road went past Lough Erne or some other lake which was very lovely and so were the mountains along the way.
I got here around 5 and was originally assigned a room up some stairs but I asked for one on a level that had direct elevator access and was given a very lovely mini-suite instead. Even so, I had to drag my suitcases around the building and up the small hill to the handicapped entrance to get to the elevator. I ran out of clean clothes this morning, and needed to bring all three of my suitcases into my room to swap my latest batch of dirty clothes for some of the spare clean clothes I had in my other two suitcases.
Once I got here, I realized that the reason the Garmin GPS couldn't find the hotel is that at one point it was just called the Southern Hotel instead of the current Great Southern hotel. It's an older but still very nice building, decorated in an almost Victorian style. It's only about a ten minute walk from the hotel down into the town center. I walked all the way down to the river and really liked what I saw of the town which is really very attractive. I passed several attractive looking pubs along the way but none of them had live music playing tonight, so I just walked back up and had a pretty good dinner in the tavern across the street at the corner (Coach Lane restaurant at Donaghy's bar).
There are several places I want to go to here in town tomorrow morning, including a couple of churches and a place that has several works by W B Yeats' brother, Jack. Then before I head on over to Castlebar where I'm staying tomorrow night I want to go back up to Druncliff which is just outside of town and which I drove through on the way here earlier today, back into town and over to Maeb's Cairn and the Carrowmore megalithic cemetery complex, and then down to the Sligo Folk Park before making the hour long drive to my hotel in Castlebar for tomorrow night.