Catching Up

No blog post yesterday, because I didn’t make it back to the guesthouse until midnight, and that was too late for me to do anything coherent. So, today you get a double-dose of my Irish adventures.

Yesterday started with a bus tour to the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher.I’ve been on this tour before, but I always enjoy it. And, of course, it was Penny’s first time, so that was cool.

First stop of the day was Dunguaire Castle, which is said to be the most photographed castle in Ireland. Here’s my contribution:

Tide is out in this picture. When it’s in, the water comes almost up to the base of the3 walls.

Next was the Poulnabourne Dolmen, a prehistoric tomb where they found twenty-two bodies of men, women, and children.

Lunch stop was at McGann’s in Doolin. I stayed here for almost a week about ten years ago. They don’t rent out rooms anymore, but the place is still friendly and welcoming with great food.

The main stop of the day was the Cliffs of Moher. Again, I’ve been here several times, and climb up and down to the various viewing spots has gotten rough on my arthritic joints, so I didn’t wander all that far. Got a nice picture of the sculpture at the front of the visitor centre, which is the same as last time, but a little more weathered.

Driving down, there was some worry that the fog would be too thick to give us a good view of the cliffs. It cleared up enough that we were able to get a good look at them, but lingered enough to make things look weird and otherworldly. This is a view down the cliffs to Hag’s Head, at the far end.

At the other end of the cliffs is O’Brian’s Tower, which gives some of the best views of the cliffs, especially from the top. It was more of a climb than I felt up to, but I told Penny to make sure she went for a look.

Last stop on the way home was a bit of shoreline with the rocky terrain that the Burren is known for.

Gary, our tour driver, gave us some recommendations for places to check out for music and food back in the city, and we ran into a lady at one of the places that Penny had met a couple of nights previously. We all went to dinner, then back to Taafe’s, one of the music pubs Gary had recommended. There, a young German couple named Matthias and Kristina wer kind enough to let us share their table, right next to where the musicians would be setting up’

These folks – whose names I never got – were amazing. They started out with a fair amount of traditional Irish stuff, took requests, and ended the evening playing c9vers of Pink Floyd, Bruce Springsteen, The Cranberries, Lee Earle, Depeche Mode, The Cure, and others I didn’t recognize. Things got rowdy and dancey, and my voice got sore from singing.

And that’s why there was no blog post yesterday.

This morning, we got a little bit of a later start. We didn’t have a tour to go on, and planned to spend the day just walking around Galway and seeing stuff.

We started with the train station, getting tickets for our trip tomorrow to Killarney, and spent an inordinate time looking around for someplace to get out laundry done. We had lunch at a really great chip restaurant called Prátaí, which is Irish for Potatoes. We went and saw the Red Earl’s Court, an archaeological excavation in the city centre, and then the Spanish Arch.

The area to the right of the arch is the oldest preserved section of the city walls.

Just past the arch is the Galway Museum. It’s not a huge museum, but it’s got a lot of cool stuff in it. Like this Galway Hooker hanging in the gallery.

After this, we sat for a bit in The King’s Head, resting and having a drink, then walked along the Corrib river walk to the Galway Cathedral. I’d visited here on my last trip to Galway, but there was a confirmation service going on, so I didn’t want to intrude by taking pictures.

This time, no service, so I took some pictures.

The cathedral. If you look closely, you can just see a wild Penny in the left foreground.

So, the cathedral is stunning and beautiful. It’s a more modern design than most other cathedrals, having been opened in 1965.

Then there was the walk back, and dinner, and then back to the guesthouse, and here we are now.

Tomorrow, we catch the train to Killarney.

Back to the Big Island

Hawai’i isn’t the only big island. Inis Mor is one of the Aran Islands, off the West coast of Ireland, and its name means Big Island.

I went there last time I was in Ireland, and it was great, so I suggested to Penny it would be a good day trip. As soon as I said, “Bronze-age hill fort,” she was totally onboard.

(It’s an island. You get there by boat. See what I did there?)

The ferries at the quay in Kilronan, the largest village on the island.

The high cross in front of The Bar.

Okay. Story time. According to our guide, this used to be called The American Bar, because the fellow who first owned it in the 20s or 30s was an American, and that’s what he called it. But as tourism became the main industry in the Aran Islands, it started to lose custom, because the American visitors didn’t com3e all this way to drink in an American bar, y’see? So, they changed the name and are still in business.

Harp seals off the shore of the island. With my cataract, I couldn’t actually see them down in the water, so I took a few pictures just out of pure optimism. You can kinda see three of them in the upper right of this picture, and this is the best of the lot.

The next stop was for the walk up to Dun Aonhasa, the hill fort I mentioned. I opted out. I went up on my last visit, and it was a pretty challenging climb for me. Now, I’m six years older, my arthritis is six years stronger, and I’ve got that cataract. So, yeah. Decided not to die on that hill.

Penny did go up, of course. And it was foggy so, looking at her pictures, it seems like a very different experience from the crystal-clear weather I had when I visited.

But anyway, no pictures of the fort from me. Sorry.

Instead, I give you a few pictures from the Seven Churches, centuries-old churches and monasteries that were destroyed by Cromwell.

Then it was back to the ferry, and back to Galway.We’ve booked another tour for tomorrow – Cliffs of Moyer and the Burren – and then we went and got dinner.

I had this delicious bowl of lamb stew. I note it because it’s the first stew I’ve had on this trip.

And now, I’m done.

Surprise! Ireland trip!

So, I haven’t posted any itinerary or plans, but I’m back in Ireland.

I’ve actually been planning this trip for a couple of years, but what with one thing and another, I had got out of the habit of blogging about my plans. Something that factored into that is that I’m not here alone – my friend, Penny, is with me. And talking and planning with her kind of scratched the same itch that blogging did, solidifying things and making them real.

We landed in Ireland yesterday, after a very long day of travel, and had a very long day again. We had tried to book accommodations in Dublin to start our trip there, but apparently, there was a traditional dance festival [[Or something similar.]] and there wasn’t a room to be had in the city. So, we took a taxi to the train station, then a train to Galway, then walked through Galway to our guesthouse.

I lay down on the bed for a minute to rest, and pretty much immediately fell asleep. Penny went out and did some scouting of the area, and came back after a few hours, woke me up, and we went out to see stuff. We walked down to a restaurant and had some lunch, then walked back the other way to the Eyre Square area to find the Galway Tours office, and booked a tour of Connemara for today.

And, seeing as we were right there, we took a walk through the Latin Quarter, which is the touristy/nightlife area of the city, and sat down for a rest in a cafe.

After that, we made our way back to the guesthouse and, being exhausted, decided to watch some TV and go to sleep.

This morning, we went on our tour of Connemara. Here are some pictures.

Kylemore Abbey. It’s always the feature of the tour, and I’ve taken lots of pictures of it. This is one more

A Connemara pony in a field up near the Kylemore walled garden.

A nice view of Killary Fjord.

Looking down at Lough na Fuaiche.

The sheep hospital (i.e., a cottage now used to store gear and equipment for the locals to look after their sheep) near Lough na Fuaiche.

A famine wall above Lough na Fuaiche.

A statue of Maureen O’Hara and John Wayne in The Quiet Man, which was filmed in and around the village of Cong.

Inside the old church in Cong. A wild Penny lurks in the corner.

High cross in the old church in Cong.

The ruined Cong Abbey.

After that, it was back to Galway. We had some very nice pasta at a restaurant in the Latin Quarter called Freddy’s, then went looking for the docks of the Aran Island Ferry company, because we’re planning to head down there tomorrow and see about taking a trip out to one of the islands.

Then, back to the guesthouse. I’m pretty done with walking, so I did this blog post, and Penny went out to check out a pub called Darcy’s.

And now, I’m done.