Wednesday, July 1, 2009

the Ireland Trip: Days 5-6

Saturday, Solstice
sleeping in is bliss.
Awoke at 9 to the smell of pancakes or waffles or french toast. Turned out to be the last, and it was tasty. Tomi staggered down for some toast adn insisted that she wasn't hung over. We looked into the Doolin Caves trip, which was a bit more expensive than we had anticipated, and opted to walk down to Fisher Street instead to look at the local shops. After discussin the monetary ramification of not spending money on any other fun, we decide to splurge on horse-back riding. Off to find an ATM first, back in Ennistymon, plus a few groceries for our dwindling cheese and bread lunches. Then, to Willie Daly's Pony Trekking. It was a beautiful, if sedate ride. tomi did fine for her first solo horse experience, and we both survived the 2 hours on horse back. One of the barn hands, Naeve, a girl of about 10, walked with Tomi the whole time - whew! I was tired for her.
We came back to Doolin for dinner, stopping only long enough to get petrol down the the side of the car at a pump that leaked. Another delicious dinner, and we managed to run into Peter and Morris and few others, and then Colum invited us to join them again. The bar was crowded with afternoon Rugby and Hurling watchers plus the weekend tourists. The night wore on, the drinks flowed, my headache banged and diminished until I had a shot of whiskey, the music played, and we had a good time again. More people came, and the bar was packed, glasses breaking as the night wore on. One bad incident with a drunken ass at the end of the night who wouldn't leave Tomi alone, in spite of my outright statement to get lost. And one awkward few minutes when Colum and a few others handed me a phone to call Ramah - because they were certain that he wanted to hear from 5pm Chicago time while I was in the middle of a racket in a bar. Had to call home to clear that up once we were back at the B&B.
(I will put in pictures of our new friends once Tomi's pics are uploaded.)
The nights here are dark and calm. The sky is cloudy often, but the stars are crisp when they shine. The darkness is everywhere adn complete when the sun sets. It's welcoming and pleasant.

Sunday, 21/6
another day spent driving. It hurts my calves to drive all these hours.
The fog was think when we left Doolin near 11. The hills rolled off into cloud adn mist, the stone fences became one with the sky in teh distance. We wound up the coast toad again, to come upon teh Doolin church as it was letting out. The crowd was large, the village all in one place, save for the proprietors checking out and breakfasting the tourists. We had to weave through the lave - double parked and home bound Catholics - to descend back to the sea. As we came down towards Ballyvaughn, the fog remained a blanket ont eh Burren's rocky hilltops, shrouds that stretched out in grey over the silver and blue ocean to join the sky. The countryside on the western coast reminds my of northern California - hills, rocks, sparse trees, the flora is odd here - birds-of-paradise, palms, evergreens... all of there imports in this tamed land.
We got to Ballymote midafternoon, and Tomi was sick from drinking too much last night and still from the ferry. We found a bathroom, and then drove on into the countrside and found the Carrowkeel Megalithic Tombs. The roads in Ireland are all paved. Even the one-laner leading from Ballymote to Castle Baldwin, and then up tot eh hills where the Carrowkeel tombs sit on private property. The last mile or so was gravel, and then a hiking trail up the sheep's hill to the tombs.
It was a beautiful walk in the thick fog, the sheep chewing their cud and eyeing us suspiciously as we passed. A fine mist was falling, ad we were both damp - Tomi smelling more like wet sheep than damp girl because of her wool sweater - by the time we got to teh top of the hill. The fog continued to thicken, as well. The hills there, the ground, were all peat and springy. So comfy for walking on. The hills were covered with a small ground shrub - gorse, I think - that is soft to the touch. In the lowlands or wetter places there are wild iris (of which I dug one up and thanked the land for), and nettles - which I remembered the hard way. ouch. Of course, I couldn't find any of the companion plant to stop the sting. There are also these wonderfully twisted trees that grow randomly - usually in lee sides or near the iris'...they have small leaves that resemble an oak almost, and bunches of white flowers all over. They also tend to be very old and covered in lichen. The ones at Carrowkeel were also covered on teh lower brancehs with patches of wool from the itchy sheep.
Back to Ballymote, where we relaxed for a bit before dinner. We gorged ourselves on pizza and then watched hours and hours of TV. The intrigue and drama and gore and non-stop was riveting yet appalling. My mind was hooked, but reeling. I am so glad we don't do TV at home, and will have to rein in Sol's daily morning movies after that reminder.
Monday, we planned to head back east again, to County Meath to stay in Trim, near Trim Castle. Then, Tuesday we head home. It felt like we were winding down, like Doolin was the heart of the trip. That was OK with me, as I was getting ready for home - the warmth and sun of summer, Solie, Ramah, the up-coming class, the anniversary party, and a break from spending so much money!!!

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