The Irish Chronicles – Part 9

Ireland, Day Ten / Eleven
10/12/05
Outbound from Shannon

Tried to awaken early this morning for sunrise photos but it was cold so we just slept in until 8 – we were out late last night anyway.

Had breakfast with two other couples – an older couple from Seattle and honeymooners from Philadelphia. Found out that the ferries to the Arans were running on a limited schedule from our host.

Went down to the ferry dock, discovered only one ferry was running to Inisheer (the smallest of the three Aran Isles) an hour from then (at 1030 hours). The morning was crisp but mostly clear – we could see the Cliffs of Moher a distance away with lots of mist. Good pictures!

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Ferry ride was a little rough with some deep swells. Nothing disconcerting and we were glad it was an enclosed passenger area. Recognized several people from the pub the night before.

Inisheer is small – only 3 miles by 2 miles. It’s covered with TONS of stone walls. We just started out walking. There was a small dog who followed us around – we named him “Skippy”. He was a very friendly dog – but then he ditched us for the group meandering behind us. We ended up near the lone open pub on the island and after some conversation, took a trap ride offered by a local. Really nice gentleman who told us about the Plassy shipwreck and about the island.

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Found out that much of the walls were built from stones dug out of the soil, to which then sand and seaweed was added for potato farming.

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After the trap ride, we walked up to the top of the hill and where O’Brien’s Castle was located.

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We also picked up another guide, a pretty collie we named “Buddy,” who ranged ahead of us and would then look back and wait for us to catch up. He even responded to my whistles. Wish we had some kibble to give him.

Shot some nice pictures of the lighthouse and then walked back in time for the ferry. Unfortunately, no shops were open. Really wanted to get M’s mom an Aran sweater, so we’ll most likely see what we can find back in Doolin.

Another somewhat rough ferry crossing but we noticed that the weather incoming was beginning to clear. Figured we’d shop and eat and then we’d have great weather to shoot the Cliffs.

Went to the Doolin Sweater shop and found the perfect Merlino wool sweater for her mom. Bought M a gorgeous green silk scarf in another store. Then we had a leisurely early dinner at O’Connors before finally heading out to the Cliffs of Moher.

Weather was perfect – first time we’d seen blue sky since we’d arrived in Doolin. Walked up the hill, noting the “DANGER” signs and warnings to stay away from the edge. When we finally reached the top….it was completely worth it. The view was AMAZING – we could see clear to the Ring of Kerry in the south and the Twelve Penns to the north. The cliffs themselves were phenomenal. And humbling.

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Got several shots and kept cringing with every idiot who bypassed the wall to walk the very edge (mostly teenagers, go figure) – one German couple had their little girl on the edge with them. Is there no common sense anymore?

Noted we had roughly an hour to sunset and decided to hang around for M to get some shots, so we went back down to the car to get out of the chill. That’s when we noticed the Visitor’s Center – and the bathrooms – had closed. Yeesh. (And I had to go!)

Well, time to practice mind over matter, right?

We chatted a bit then headed back up for the shoot and we noticed the parking barrier was gone and no one collecting money. HA! Didn’t have to pay the outrageous E8 after all!

Got back up in plenty of time – noted a few other die-hard photographers had the same idea. M picked her spot and I helped set up. We both got a LOT of pictures of the sunset, the cliffs, and even the moon was out over Ennis – beautiful shot thru the castle arch.

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Finally headed on our way to Shannon as it got dark. Driving Ireland at night is interesting – and I’m glad I don’t do it often. We were glad to get to Shannon when we did. Combine close hedgerow walls and no streetlights of any kind with minimal reflective tape on the road and I think you’ll understand…

Stopped by the hotel pub for a light dinner and it began to really sink in that this trip is just about done. In a few hours is our flight out, so there’s really only time for returning the rental (and MAN, is that car DIRTY!) after we scarf an early breakfast and packing.

Upon reflection, this has turned out to be an incredible trip. Between us, we took over 500 pictures (she blew through 12 rolls of 36 exposure film, I exhausted my little digital’s two memory cards) and have a wealth of memories.

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