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Saturday in Galway by Ann Treacy
May 18, 2008, 11:47 am
Filed under: Clare, Galway

On Saturday we took off for Galway and the Early Music Festival. It was about a two hour drive, which surprised us since in was only 10 miles. Not quite – but nearly. The roads around Galway Bay and the Burren were crazy. I’ve included a picture of us on Corkscrew Hill overlooking Galway Bay. If Kate looks a little green, it’s not your computer screen – she was.

We thought we were late – but thanks to my keen sense of direction in Galway (Anita and Darla would have been impressed with how well I remembered it!) we were there on time for the kid’s play about Noah. Well, my keen sense and the fact that nothing starts on time in Ireland. The play was in the King’s Head Pub, it was free, and we really enjoyed it. Aine and I scored some seats with our new best friend stranger in the front.

The show was very cute – and includes a remark of Summer Night that you can watch below.

After the play, we saw s demonstration of early music (recorders and bagpipes) and some dancing. Aine was quick to jump up and partake. The rest of us were active viewers. The music demonstration was in the Galway Museum. We didn’t see much of it – but we liked what we saw. They have a fun interactive kiosk where you can take a picture of yourself to get added to their digital montage. Also they had a beautiful display of glass balls like water drops hanging from the ceiling.

After the museum we took a walk in the medieval part of the city. We had pizza for lunch in Fat Freddie’s. Patrick duped me into sharing a potato pizza with him – thankfully Aine took pity on me and gave me some of her pizza. Patrick can be evil.

Galway is a great city for walking. The people-watching was great. Lots of people were celebrating with beer – even before noon, which was something I remembered from my trip with Anita and Darla. (That is, I remember observing this – not joining in.) We walked through the market and to Eyre Square and eventually headed back to Lahinch.

We took a longer, yet quicker route home, which included a stop in Coole Pak, near Gort (in honor of WB Yeats). The we got home and enjoyed a mean game of Cluedo while we relaxed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.




Tuesday Road Trip to Cork by Ann Treacy
April 14, 2008, 5:14 pm
Filed under: Cork, Dingle, Galway

Woke up in Galway on Tuesday. The hotel was directly across the street from the Spanish Arch. We took some pictures but what really struck me was the number of men drinking cider by the arch at 10:00 in the morning. I’m pretty sure they would have remarked at our beauty even if they hadn’t been drinking, but it was just something I noted. Actually I noticed quite a few morning drinkers in Galway. I can’t say that I felt like they were all on vacation. And I felt like we were in a lively but not at all risqué neighborhood.

We walked around Galway a little bit. I really liked the city. I had been there before but didn’t remember much. We took a few pictures as you can see below.

Mostly we drove on Tuesday. We covered a ton of ground. We went from Galway down to Dingle. We had lunch in Dingle. We didn’t see the dolphin, sadly. (Rumor has it you can swim with Fungi the dolphin in the Dingle Bay.)

Dingle was nice – but as we headed down to Cork we drove past Inch, which has a beautiful vista. I actually took picture without people in Inch. It was amazing.

Then we headed to Cork. It was interesting to see the different terrain from the day before. The area towards Cork seems so vast in the same way that the Iron Range in Minnesota seems vast to me. Also the natural borders suddenly changed from stone walls to bushes.

The drive into Cork was hellacious. We actually had directions but it didn’t matter much. We saw a Jury’s – got there easily only to find it was the wrong one. Back into the car we ran into a billion one way streets – none of them going the way wanted to go. It took us 40 minutes to get into the hotel and Cork just isn’t that big. We got into the hotel too late for dinner. The garage was full. The Internet wasn’t working. And they didn’t have any decent lager in the pub!

But we got some Chinese take away. I found an Ethernet cord. And the cider was good. So, all’s well that ends well.



Monday Road Trip to Galway by Ann Treacy
April 9, 2008, 8:51 pm
Filed under: Clare, Galway

Monday Anita, Darla and I set off for Galway. Well, really we set off for the Cliffs of Moher – which are pretty much directly west of Dublin on the other side of the country.

We stopped at Conghlan Castle on the way – really just to take pictures.

Next we stopped by Yeats’ Tower in Gort. WB Yeats was a Nobel Prize winning poet, whose works include The Tower.

We stopped to take a picture of the “natural borders” that Darla loves. Today the natural borders were stone fences between properties.

What’s nice is that the Cliffs are about 5 miles away from Lehinch, where we’ll be staying with my family in May. I think it was about 3.5 hour trip. We stopped in Ennis for lunch – but I’m factoring that in. (I know at least 2 readers want that much info on getting to Lehinch.)

The Cliffs of Moher really are amazing. Picture a coastline and now picture it up 214 meters. You can see the Aran Islands and the Twelve Pins (rolling mountains) of Connemara. The weather was perfect although we could see a bad storm blowing in, which of course we ignored until it hit us. Thankfully we were ready to leave when the hail hit. (Proving that God loves us best.)

After the Cliffs we drove through the Burren to get to Galway. It “is a karst landscape, which is “a landscape shaped by the dissolution of a layer or layers of soluble bedrock, usually carbonate rock such as limestone or dolomite.” So in other words, the Burren rocks.

We stopped on the way to Galway on Galway Bay. Maybe the town was Oranmore; maybe not. The waves were washing water unto the bridge and we saw our favorite sign of the trip, pictures below.

After doing so well with driving and directions we had a horrible time finding the hotel when we got into Galway. Luckily we had my friend Kevin to help us – twice. Then we were happy to have Kevin show us the nightlife of Galway. We had a wonderful Indian meal and visited a couple of pubs. They were all pretty lively. One had a band playing and one had a session going on.

The pubs were actually much nicer than many of the pubs I’ve visited in Dublin – in that they were cozy and had fireplaces, which I love.

Finally we took a picture of Lynch Castle for our cousins in Chicago.

I really enjoyed Galway. I recognized almost nothing from when I visited 15 years ago – but the nightlife still seemed good and there’s an artistic feel to the city.




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