The Irish Chronicles – Part 8

Ireland, Day Nine
10/10/05 09:35 pm

Wet, cold, and rainy when we awoke.  At breakfast, our hostess (Susan Daly) informed us the seas were bad and therefore, no ferries would be running.  She gave us a list of places to visit nearby, including an antique store that did have bottles from time to time.  Joined at breakfast by an Australian couple doing a seven week European tour. Very nice couple, we suggested a few placed in Dingle to them.

Drove by the Cliffs on our way to Ennis (where the antique place is).Very misty and gusty out – you couldn’t even see the Aran Isles, which aren’t that far off shore. Decided to drive by the Cliffs tonight, maybe the weather’ll get better.

Got lost in Ennis – too many one-way streets and the map in the book wasn’t entirely accurate. Finally just parked in a lot to get our bearings – turned out we were 2 blocks away. Pulled out the umbrella and strolled through town.

The antique store was just crammed with stuff – mostly porcelain, wood, and glass and all like stuff you’d see in old movies – art and pieces for European chateaus, you’d think. Saw a beautiful stained glass fireplace screen from the ’20s…for E650. NOT.

After some searching, we found one bottle from the 1900’s for lemonade and when we asked, one of the owners pulled out an urn with a bunch more. A Victorian-age one with pointed bottom and green. Perfect! We got both for E95 – a steal, really. Now M’s dad wouldn’t be disappointed…

Stopped at a cafe to nibble – M was getting hungry and I desperately needed some coffee.

Left Ennis and drove to Quinn and Quinn abbey – wanted a picture of the city sign for one of M’s friends, Qin. It was raining pretty steady, so we shot some pix of the Abbey from the car.

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Drove to Knappogue Castle – not very impressive. After seeing Cahir, I’m a bit jaded at this point. Little photo ops outside, so back to Ennis to go north into the Burrens.

Swung by Kilforen to see Kilforen Cathedral – very small. Doorways were low, to force parishioners to bow facing the alter as they entered. Also here is two high crosses, but they’re not as impressive in height as the Moone one.

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Going thru the Burrens (what a landscape) we stop at Polterumbo dolmen (I sure hope I spelled that right), a neolithic burial ground.

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The stone arrangement is interesting. M and I discussed what / how it may have been arranged and what it may have looked like back when it was constructed.

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On the way back to the car we overheard one older gentleman coming from a tour bus complaining about stopping once more so people could take pictures of “rocks, grass, and water”. Hrm. Must be one of those “tour of Irish pubs” crowd.

Zip through Ballyvanagh and take a detour to a signposted castle – though the road becomes less so and more like holes and rocks.  Lots of tree branches “reach out and say hi” to the Polo. End of the road is a castle gate and rocky beach…but no castle. After wrestling with the car, we eventually get back to the main road.

The coastal road on the Burren is tremendous. The clouds had lifted enough that we could finally see the Aran chain. M got some good shots.

We bypass Doolin for the Cliffs again. We’d read in our of our books that a good view can be seen from Hag’s Head, so we diverted to it to see. The whole side of the hill is amaze of walls and cattle gates – and when we got to the signal tower opposite the Cliffs (built in the 1800’s), it was barred, locked and posted “No Entry”. Preferring not to break local laws, we turn and pick our way back to the main road.

Seems there’s expensive construction occurring here – a new visitor center, as we found out later – and it’s E4 for parking in the car park. Considering it’s raining and not wanting to pay to get some (most likely) crappy pictures, and the fact that we have to pass that way again tomorrow on our way to Shannon, I opt to just go back to Doolin.

We stopped at O’Connors for dinner and enjoy it – M got a good veggie lasagna with extra cheese and she was in total heaven. More so, after I got her a Bailey’s coffee. We discovered we were sitting near where the musicians would play that evening so we opted to stay put. Turned out to be a great decision.

Now, we’d heard that in the more “common” pubs, local music was present but during tourist season it was pretty well staged.  So we knew it wouldn’t be authentic (although better than Killarney) in the sense of a “real” impromptu everyone-participates session. Yet, turns out, that’s not what happened that night. After the “regulars” started their set, two brothers from Scotland happened to be in the audience and asked if they could join in. The locals said “sure” and one brother pulled out a set of bagpipes, while the other pulled out his guitar and several types of flutes and whistles. WOW!  It turned into a 3 hour ceili and was still going when we departed at midnight.

Overall, one of our best days.  And the rain finally quit, too!

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