I woke up at 5am the next day with a stiff and sore back. After the relentless walking in Dublin on my first day, I was determined not to make the same mistake again.
The night earlier, while surfing the Internet huddled underneath my blanket, I downloaded tons of Ireland-specific travel planning apps. Why didn’t you download them earlier? you ask. Well, because I thought public transport would be easy to figure out. I was wrong. I was only in Ireland for ten days so I could be very wrong, but here’s what I found difficult about the bus system in Ireland / Northern Ireland:
- In Dublin you have several major bus companies such as Bus Eireann, Dublin Bus and Aircoach.
- All the different bus companies have different bus stops. If you wish to catch a Bus Eireann bus, you have to wait at the Bus Eireann bus stop – because the bus won’t stop at the Dublin Bus bus stops.
- Sometimes, the buses come on a fixed timing and once you missed it, you have to wait a few more hours for the next one.
I was supposed to go to a town called Balbriggan, and there was a 7.30am Bus Eireann bus that connects Dublin to Balbriggan. Unfortunately, the only stop for the bus in the entire Dublin City was on Talbot Street. Talbot Street is a damn long street. Think the length of Orchard Road from Centrepoint to Ngee Ann City. I walked up and down the street, seeing a lot of Dublin Bus stops, but none for Bus Eireann. Felt increasingly frustrated and panicky at missing the 7.30am deadline. In the end, I found the bus stop with about 10 minutes to spare.
Balbriggan is a small town, with one central street filled with shops, restaurants and other stores. It was Sunday, so there were no shops open. I headed to the Spurs shop – their version of 7/11 – and had breakfast, while going through my photos. Then headed to the beach.
It was Sunday morning so it was quite quiet, but there were people here and there, walking their dogs and having a morning stroll through the beach. After that I got a cab from the local cab rental, and headed to my destination.
The main reason why I went to Balbriggan was for this:
Hawk Walk at Dublin Falconry!
Dublin Falconry is a little cabin on the grounds of an adventure park (paintball, clay pigeon shooting, etc). It was run by this man called Trevor, who was really quite passionate about falconry and birds of prey in general.
I was greeted by Trevor and his two friendly dogs when I reached the cabin. After which Trevor gave me a short introduction to the birds he was rehabilitating – dozens of hawks, eagles and owls!
Then I was paired with Louie, a fierce-looking female Harris Hawk. Trevor gave Louie a few minutes to get used to me – and me to her, I guess – and after that, we started on our walk. Louie was allowed to fly freely, returning to my glove only when food was placed on it. I love seeing Louie in action – so majestic – and it was awesome being able to touch her feathers too. Here are some videos:
I learnt that many different types of eagles, hawks and falcons were used in falconry, but Harris Hawks are one of the easiest to train, because they hunt in packs in the wild – thus having a social nature that makes them cooperate with falconers.
Louie was really obedient and behaved perfectly, but I was reminded of her strength when Trevor handed me a dead chick to feed to Louie. The hawk ripped the baby literally into two, while I was still holding on to the lower part of the chick. RIP chicky. Seeing these majestic birds of prey up close was FANTASTIC. If only I had my own pet falcon…
Took the train back to Dublin city for the rest of my day, exploring Kilmainham Gaol and the Guinness Storehouse.