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Hanging in Lahinch by Ann Treacy
May 17, 2008, 9:36 pm
Filed under: Clare

On Thursday we took it easy. Lily learned how to play Gin, and has now clocked in about 100 hours of Gin with Grandma or Grandpa. We have played a ton of Clue (aka Cluedo). I think everyone has won at least one game – except me. The big girls have played a lot of tetherball in the back. We’ve been keeping an eagle eye on the cows that live around the yard. And Grandpa knows every shortcut in West Clare.

We went to the beach on Thursday – unfortunately the beach had moved. I guess that happens with the ocean. Fortunately, it didn’t move far. But we had to take quite a hike and climb down giant rocks with our gear to get to the beach.

The water was freezing! But Patrick and the girls spent a lot of time in the water jumping into the waves. Aine and I made a world class sandcastle and we buried Kate in the sand. It was a very relaxing day!

Inis Mor by Ann Treacy
May 15, 2008, 8:11 am
Filed under: Clare, Galway

On Wednesday, we went to the Aran Island – well we boated past the first two and landed at the largest – Inis Mor. We left from Doolin on a very turbulent boat ride. I felt like we were on Deadliest Catch. (I have become a faithful Deadliest Catch watcher here – partially because I don’t always love Irish TV.) The waves got half of the passengers soaked. I think we were all relived to reach the shore.

Once off the boat we found a bus tour of the island. Here’s a quick scoop on the Island. It’s off the west coast. It’s politically in County Galway. It’s a Gaeltacht area, which means people speak Irish. They speak English too – but they seem to speak Irish to each other. Patrick impressed us all by ordering his lunch in Irish.

The island is 9 miles long and 2 miles wide – but I suspect that’s 2 miles at the widest parts. There are about 300 houses and 760 people on the island.

Our tour started with Dun Aengus – “the most spectacular semi circular Celtic stone fort in Europe”. It was super cool. The fort is built on top of the cliff. It’s all built by stone. The road to the fort is built by stone and the big fort is too. It’s 3200 years old. It’s about a half a mile up to the fort – and an amazing view once you get there. It was interesting to think about how people ended up on the Island and what got them to pick such a scary place to build a fort. Well, clearly the scary feature also made it hard for enemies to sneak up on you – but it’s hard to imagine being more afraid of enemies than a huge drop off.

Then we got back on the bus. We drove around the island. We saw cows, a baby donkey, seals from really far away. We also saw people living their day to day life. It’s a far cry from Dublin and I was so glad that we got a chance to visit. The weather could not have been better. I’ve always wanted to visit the Aran Islands.

On the way off the island we visited some roosters that I had spied from the bus. I have to say – roosters are surprisingly beautiful. Their colors are vivid.

Then we got on the boat home and the sailing couldn’t have been smoother. It was like night and day – and a very pleasant surprise.

And the biggest bonus of all – we saw puffins from the boat. Grandpa spied them first. They were flying very close to the water. The others on the boat thought we were crazy making such a fuss about their puffins, but it was cool.

We had a nice dinner in Doolin at Gus O’Connor’s Pub. I don’t know if we were starving or if it was the best fish and chips in Ireland – but it was good. O’Connor’s is a big place to see traditional music – unfortunately we were there at 6:00 and the music starts at 9:00.

Then we had a very scary experience on the way back to Lahinch. We were driving around a very curvy part of the road and a motorcycle popped past us in the other direction. Then we saw a motorcycle pop past us behind him half in our lane. Then we saw a motorcycle not pass us. Thankfully, Dad had stopped the motorcyclist drive right in front of us into a hedge of brambles and nettles. The motorcycle flipped over and the driver flipped over the hedge. We thought he was done for. We were hopping out of the car when the driver climbed back onto the road. He was not a young guy. Thankfully, he was dressed from head to toe in leather – but we could not believe he walked away. He was so lucky that Dad stopped.

Doolin, Burren, Beach by Ann Treacy
May 15, 2008, 8:10 am
Filed under: Clare

On Tuesday we went to Doolin. We had a great time. We just walked on the rocks on the shore. It was so sunny and no nice. Patrick and the girls chased the waves. But it was Grandpa who caught a wave – he got soaked and I was so sad not to have the video camera going. The terrain was so different. We must have been climbing over limestone layers. We watched Aine pretty carefully – as it was a little dangerous but it was worth it.

Grandma, Aine and I focused on the life in the big puddles on the shore. We saw lots of shells, tiny fish and a tiny crab. It is a whole other world. It would be great to snorkel or otherwise take a look at the sea life.

The Burren was very cool too. So much of Ireland would pass as Wisconsin – but not West Clare. We climbed around the limestone here too – just no water. We were going to take a ling drive through the Burren but in the end we just got a glimpse and decided that we needed to go home – to eat and not drive.

Once we got home we ate lunch and headed to the beach. The beach was beautiful. Patrick and the big girls went pretty far into the water, which I thought was amazing since the water in the North Atlantic is absolutely freezing! Aine and I enjoyed building a sand castle and hanging out in the shallow water. We really enjoyed it. Once big plus of the beach in Ireland – no one is tanner than we are!

At night we played Clue. Grandma won but only because she guessed what Aine told her to guess.

Cliffs of Moher with Family by Ann Treacy
May 14, 2008, 8:13 pm
Filed under: Clare

On Monday we went to the Cliff of Moher. The Cliffs are amazing. There are 214 meters high – which means a 214 drop over into the ocean. But there is a little wall built to keep people (by people I mean Aine) away from the cliff.

I visited the Cliffs with Anita and Darla last month. There are a lot more flies this month.

After we visited the Cliff we went into the interpretative center – the coolest part was the virtual reality video taken of a bird – then fish – eye view of the Cliffs.

Also we learned a little bit about the area – for example puffins live near the area. I didn’t realize that and I love puffins. At the Como Zoo the puffins and the polar bear are in the same building – it’s my favorite building.

Grandma and Grandpa are Here! by Ann Treacy
May 13, 2008, 3:52 pm
Filed under: Clare

The big news is that Grandma and Grandpa are here. Everyone is so excited. Our plan for the week is to stay in Lehinch on the West Coast of Clare – about 5 miles from the Cliff of Moher.

On Saturday we started the drive. Seven of us and our luggage just about fit into the car. Well, we fit if some of us sit on the golf clubs – but we made it. Grandpa is doing all of the driving. Aine told him he was doing a very good job – we all agreed. Driving here takes some getting used to – adding in the driving on the left, the mini-van status, the shift, and the Irish road signs.

We took a detour to see the Rock of Cashel – my favorite castle of all times. The weather was perfect. Most of the pictures are from there. I wrote about my trip to Cashel with Anita and Darla last month so I won’t write too much again.

At about 5:00 we arrived at our house in Lehinch. It is amazing!! It’s big, it’s new, it’s the best of American and Irish features. There are 2 couches near the TV with full able/Sky so that was a big plus. The girls may be sick of Disney before we leave. There is even WiFI for me, which is great! We are about a 20-minute walk from the beach. And we’re living amongst the cows – there’s an electric fence to keep them out of our yard.

Friends from Minnesota by Ann Treacy
May 13, 2008, 3:28 pm
Filed under: Dublin

We met up with friends from Minnesota – Brenna, Quinlan, Rowan, Kevin and KC. They are temporarily living in Galway but also hail from St Paul.

It was fun to meet up with them at our neighborhood park. We met for a picnic because it was another gorgeous day! Then we played around the playground equipment. Brenna and Aine are the same age and quickly became best friends again. Quinlan is about the same age at the big girls – I think he falls right between them and they seemed to get along very well too.

Aine and I met up with the crew again on Friday too. The big girls were in school and the crew was leaving Friday afternoon but we enjoyed a great afternoon in Dun Laoghaire.

It is always fun to talk to folks who are in a similar boat and to hear what experiences and opinions we shared (too expensive but fun) and which we didn’t. Because they lived in Galway, a smaller town that Dublin I think they had more of a routine whereas we saw a lot of different things. It would be fun to be able to do both as I think they had met more people in their routine – but I think we got to see a wider variety of things.

TechnoThreads with Kids by Ann Treacy
May 13, 2008, 3:22 pm
Filed under: Dublin

After the MOMA we went to visit the Science Gallery to see the TechnoThreads exhibit. I wrote about the exhibit a week ago (or so) when Patrick and I went – and forgot the camera. So I’m just going to let the pictures and video speak for themselves…

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