The night was long and I was very tired without sleep for the past two days. I spent the long night hours chatting it up with Liam Omanlei' - drummer, song writer and lead singer for The Hot House Flowers Band. How was I supposed to know it was one of Ireland's hottest bands. An Ennistymon (pronounced En nis TIE' mon) craft shop sales woman straightened me out and was very curious to see the drawing of a poisonous tree frog he drew, signed and gave to me. I wonder what he thought when I gave him a picture in color (from a flight magazine) of two New Guinea green tree frogs. Do they have any reptiles in Ireland? No snakes but what about frogs? Or later when I told him I would treasure his drawing - he must have thought I figured out who he and his friends were; in fact I had not. I felt embarrassed later recalling our talk. I told him that I tried to buy art and music from struggling artists and musicians as a way of helping them. I told him - and this is the embarrassing part - that if I found his music I'd be happy to purchase some. He said I'd probably be running into him somewhere in Ireland, perhaps in one of the pubs. I asked him which pubs might have good traditional Irish music. He listed Tigh Neachtain (pronounced Tie Knock Turn), Munroes, and Rosheen D'uo. Munroes had changed their name but they were all still there in Galway. Liam drew a picture of the frogs I gave him and the result was terrific. He gave that to the Italian girl sitting on his other side. He looked like a hippie with a turned down cowboy hat, long reddish hair, sandal with dirty feet and a leather vest of the early western period. I helped him put away in the overhead storage space a long aboriginal musical pipe - about four feet long and about four inches around. I've seen them on TV. They make a low Brummmm, Brummmm sound that is repeated over and over and in effect causes a trace like feeling if you listen for a long time. I assisted Liam put it overhead because I didn't want this person to break my fishing rod. I asked if he'd picked up his pipe in Australia. I think he was impressed that I knew what it was. It had animals and symbols carved all the way down, crocodiles Kangaroos and other non-descript markings. ( Not much risk in my observation!) He was a very gentle person, a vegetarian, environmentally very conscious, spoke with a low voice, but with firm beliefs.
After marking down all the scratches and dents we headed for Ballinasloe (pronounced Ball in a slow uh) for the animal fair. Unfortunately we found out it would be the next day. We headed directly there because we knew it was the first weekend in October but that's all we knew. We skipped along the roads anticipating the two hundred year old fair. They say Napoleon came here to buy horses for his army. Along the way we took a right turn upon entering Gort. A town filled with Burke enterprises as we were later to observe. Of course a lot of towns have Burke establishments. This might sound funny but after you've been in Ireland it will make more sense, but to help you visualize you have to imagine, at least in the older parts of town, buildings have a painted stripe above the door across the entire storefront. Each has a family name and they were originally set up to supply a family or clan. This is documented in a small book named "The Irish Countrymen". It is different than the stores in America, more so early in the century.
All roads leading into Ballinasloe were lined with horse trailers attached to old cars or blue wide-wheeled tractors. Farmers and country gentlemen were walking toward the center of town. Only the clothes told the status. Overcoats, caps and green "wellies" for farmers versus riding pants, coats and black boots for the more leisure. The contrast was evident even in their walk. The farmer trudged resolutely with the solemnity of the decision to sell the horse he was leading by the reins. The gentleman by comparison were conversing excitedly anxious to join the fun and frolic. Where they were going I'm not sure but when we finally inched our way to a big open area a Garda was directing traffic. A big New York cop type face peered in the window filling the whole of it. After a little adjustment in the intensity of the brogue we understood the main horse fair would be the next day.
Back we went toward a waiting room at "The Falls" in Ennistymon, stopping here and there along the way from craft shop to craft shop looking for the perfect hand-knitted sweater. Of course the perfect sweater would cost very little if anything. We stopped at a cattle auction in Gort that proved interesting. A fast talking auctioneer mesmerized room full of Wellington booted men, again a mix of farmers and gentlemen.
Cows, mostly young bulls or steers of all colors, red, black, black and white, cream, white and a couple of faded brutes of which the color evades me - perhaps violet, were paraded, coaxed with a stick in and out of a small gate showing stall plainly in view of the crowd. The bidding could not be detected, as it was concealed in nods and eyebrows and slight movements that only the auctioneer with familiarity of the participants could discern. Patricia was the only women in the room, She said she saw another one but I sure didn't. We wandered up the street to a bakery for pastries called O'Connor's Bakery where we had of all things a ham salad sandwich, a cup of coffee and two cream filled donut like pastries. It was a busy little place with people coming and going picking up cakes and bags of cookies. It made me think that there were to be little parties or nights with special deserts for a family. Perhaps it was a preliminary requirement for a later secret glutinous act. I never know but what we had was good and filling, our first "ground food" since deplaning.
At last we reached Ennistymon where we were welcomed and adjourned to our waiting room. It was near dusk when we arrived and the red haired girl at the desk said she was waiting for us and would we be eating with them tonight. Lacking even the most elemental knowledge of the town beyond the one craft shop that was still open and sold me a tape by The Hot House Flowers, it seem the more prudent decision to accept a bird in the hand. I'm glad we did as the dinner was excellent. Served in slow motion and with friendly and knowing smiles the vegetables were au gratin. Desert was fresh berries. Before bed we chose to imbibe in Ireland's medicinal all purpose elixir. To enable this most familiar act we strolled out into the night air and hiked up to the small town. Among the BURKE'S and MURPHY'S (these are always written in bold block letters) was a Phil's Place in script no less. We could hear the music drifting into the night air as a couple brushed by and entered the establishment. Several other places were pointed out as possible locations for "Irish Music Tonight", a familiar sign that hung outside the pubs where something was happening. It was best to check since it could have been last night and the sign still lingering. Music also comes in many forms from the simple ballad to Elvis Presley impersonators to the country western variety. Trust me - it is best to check, even during the day, if you are trying to plan your evening.
Saturday is on us and after a typical Irish breakfast of bacon and eggs, sausage, toast, cereal , fruit, coffee and juice we are off to Ballinasloe to see a magnificent gathering of horses attended by Wellington wearing men sloshing around in the mud and horse excrement. Sellers of dogs and other obscure animals usually not associated with horses were present peddling their wares. Cows were there on another street across from which was a small hand lettered sign: TEA/COFFEE HAND MADE SANDWICHES; poignant and poor. The Tinkers were very much present and the Garda we spoke with was very much in hatred of them. Said they had no morals, stole, cheated the old and were a worthless lot. He said all this with much more venom vehement. A virtual sea of horses moved like waves on a windy bay. Estimated at near five hundred head they were gathered in small groups-different sizes and colors and shapes. About 15 black on whites were most stunning particularly when the handler ran them out and down the street as a gang of convicts. A brilliant black beauty reared and was a difficult handful in the center. Horses whinnied back and forth and you could almost hear the competitiveness of the macho I'm better than you sound from the big stallions. The horses were definitely aroused by each other in such close proximity.
In a big oval track mares and colts and mares with fold were shown and judged. The pride of the owners almost bursting some while others were anxiously expectant. Their feelings on the edge.
The machines of amusement present at all small town fairs added color noise and movement. The streets were filled with moving people expectant and yet seemingly aimless.
After a brief respite of a sandwich and coffee at a thoroughly packed hotel carpeted with plastic to reduce the Wellington wear and spoilage of hundreds of animals we pointed our little car back along the two lanes toward Ennistymon. We made our way to Corrfin and Lisdoonvarin and to Doolin to hear the music. At Lisadoonvarin we stopped for coffee and steak and white fish for Patricia .
The day was very complete and even though I've left out the Doolin music disappointment and the wandering through the stalls of items for sell bazarre style and the visit to a second hand book store. I should not leave out the hideous face of a Tinker that driving his team of horses past me looked at me with an evil a face as I've seen. On the side of his wagon sat a young girl maybe 15 holding a small child almost Madonna like and stoic- a tragedy of hers for the situation requires more deftness to describe the feeling that swept over me. The head is tired this night.
Early morning breakfast, fog shrouded hills and an urge to hike eliminated much discussion of alternatives. We did take the fishing poles along the Inagh river where the salmon run. Much earlier in the year I'm told but we casted a few anyway. The path led down from the Falls Hotel and back along the back of the property. We came to a boat chained to a pipe. No more boats were to be found but several chains of long ago, evidence of another era of hotel use. I could close my eyes and see parasoled women sitting in the rear of rowboats being rowed about by men in straw hats. Further down the path we came to a bridge and a stream from a tree covered ravine that fed the Inagh. Passing over the bridge the path gave out shortly-covered with water. We went up the hill over barbed fence climbing to the top. Gorse spine barbed plants grow in the open in scattered clumps. From the top we could see the ocean to the west, an old house to the east, and cows to the north and southeast, and horses to the south. What a view. After finally getting a good look at one of the loudest whistling 3 inch birds ever, we started up a path along side the stream. It grew wilder and more dense finally to a narrow trail above violently thrashing water falls. Having climbed over several small bridges and several more fallen trees we decided to ascend to the top of the ravine. This opened up into a beautiful green pasture enclosed by rock walls with a road just the other side. Here was a house of stone, small with three rooms and two fireplaces. It was built down in the surrounding ground, roofless and overgrown with berries and fuchsias. Imagining the life lived within those walls left no doubt why so many went eagerly to America. What were they giving up? Nearby was another tumbled down structure which may have been for animals. It too was overgrown and hardly noticeable. Following the wall hoping to cut across the fields back to the hotel we came face to face with some large but young bulls. Moving off quietly we headed for the high ground. Patricia pointed out a Cahir (standing stone) near the top of the hill just over the wall. With abandon we scampered over the wall and up to the Cahir. It was a good one-9 feet tall and a foot thick and 2 1/2 to 3 feet wide. It looked like it may have had Ogham marks along one corner. It would be hard to say for sure. I told Patricia that another should be within view based on what I had learned. Sure enough as we descended the hill keeping an eye on two older bulls and trying desperately to figure out where the hotel might be up on the next hill to the left was another thin standing stone but to get close was to be sure for it looked like a stump from the distance. Climbing again over more walls we at last could stand next to it and feel the peace of the rock. On the wall we saw two Cromlechs (buried stones). From this stone you could see the town and in particular the back of an old Protestant church. Climbing down to the church we walked down to the church we walked down the main street stopping at the antique furniture store.
At the hotel changing our shoes quickly we jumped in the car and headed off to the Ennis to catch the end of a local football game. Indescribable the number of people at the stadium. We picked up two hitchhikers a few blocks from the stadium as we were having trouble finding it. Kate the hotel receptionist inquired about the hair color-red hair were they? Tinkers? No-the girl that worked as a receptionist. My mind wandered back to the previous days discussion with a Garda and how obviously angered he was at the Tinkers who he said he could not call Travelers. He said the queers commandeered the word gay just like the Tinkers commandeered the word travelers. He went on to tell of the man who was sold a rug and the Tinkers stole it out the back window while he was paying for it at the front door.
After returning from Ennis we drove up to the top of the hill behind Ennistymon where an old graveyard surrounded a derelict church. Patricia was starved and we walked around town but the pickings were slim. Several carloads of people were parked outside a fast food place eating and steaming up the windows. We opted for the hotel where I had a marvelous T bone and Patricia had some sandy muscles. Afterward we walked back to town for a bit of Guiness and some live music Arches and another pub. Finally to the hotel do scribble these notes and to sleep again. One last note -I think I saw a red fox today.
October 11 th, after breakfast of the usual, I am playing some music I secretly recorded last night - found a recording of Jen from Volleyball, years ago - made me slightly homesick for her and Patrick. Oh well, my turn in the soft shower.
Checked out of the Falls Hotel and walked the grounds to get a close view of rocks 100 yards away from the Hotel up in a small saucer shaped draw. A mystical place of the Druids. We waved at the white horse and headed off toward Lisvoondarna. Lisvoondarna is a spa town. We stopped briefly and kept on toward Ballyvaugh which was small but had a modern little store. Bought a small "Book of Kells" book as a souveneir and off again on to Kingarvan near Dun Gargon. A craft shop just outside Kinvarna took a chunk out of our spending money. At last Galway and Mrs. O'Connors at 2 Nuns Island. We ate at a fish joint, monk fish and Patricia had mussels and brown bread. (I fell asleep writing this so now I will finish up.)
Mary "O'Connor" Saxton introduced us to her guests Carmel , a Sister (nun) from Clare and another woman, a PhD candidate from Milan. Carmel told all these jokes including the chocolate cake just for visitors (it was actually green with mold) and a joke about the car starting with holy water. She was a nun by herself since her current status was unclear. We drank tea with something red added. I should research the red addition. We talked for quite awhilebefore we left for the pubs Tigh Neachtain and then Psin, Duogh both suggestions of Lliam Omanlai. We spent the night listening to Irish music from a banjo, fiddles, uilleann pipes and Sharon Shannon's sister on accordion.
October 12th, we were almost late for breakfast. Fine breakfast of egg, sausage, bacon, cereal and toast. Some more talk to Sister Carmel and then off to shop. Kenny's book store was full of old Irish books - great! After walking the city all day long we went to a play called Illusions which was totally outrageous. It attacked all of the religious, and sexist sensitive issues without mercy. We had coffee in the Left Bank Cafe. Afterward we went to Tigh Neachtain for music and Guinness. We visited the Spanish Arches. Along the wall, beached and across the small inlet was a Galway Hooker, a small boat that worked the coasts around Galway. I had bought a model earlier and was suprised at the likeness to the real thing with a black bulbous prow and a red sail.
October 13th - Up at 9:00 and off to the cathedral, but first some of Mary's breakfast. Eating breakfast looking out of Mary's back window at flowers and grass in front of the river is picture perfect. We talked about the Tinkers, the problem at Glenmaddy and the Four Roads Pub, the problems of priests and marriage and how women were the problem especially as in the case of Galway's Bishop Casey. The women according to Mary are supposed to fade away.
After the cathedral we headed for Galway Glass. Des Sherrin who we'd met in the pub Tigh Neachtain was manager of production came out and gave us a 33% discount - whoa! We promised to talk up Galway Glass and told him it pays to talk business in pubs. A few purchases and we were on our way again over to Partumna on Lough Derg and down to Terryglass Castle. After braving our way down the drive we came to a workman resurfacing the road. He had no idea where the castle was although he was more than willing to give us directions. Driving further down the road even though the sign said pedestrians only, we came to a house. I got out and talked to the owner Anthony Murdough (sic). He said okay to our request to look at the castle and joined us to show us around. He just bought the place and had been there only two months. He and his wife had returned from Germany (she was German) and were making plans to change the castle into a tourist attraction - a disco. He showed us where the Vikings had come ashore 1000 years ago and where they had set up a village. It was a unique castle with rounded turrets. We talked of electro-magnetic fields and the power of knowing things that were not known. He invited us in to look at a book "PI in the Sky". The house was unique and neat. I don't know how to discuss it. He wanted us to have a drink, spend the night. He felt we would enjoy a visit with a Mrs. Kent who lived nearby that uses magnets to cure medical problems. We politely declined due to reservations and we bustled off to Birr to visit the castle grounds. After getting a room at Dooley's Hotel we watched the Irish soccer team lose to Spain in the lounge. People were bummed. Afterward we walked around the town up and to the castle. Turns out the grounds are spectacular so tomorrow we are going to check it out further. On the way back to the hotel we saw a small restaurant called the Cottage. We stuck our head in the door and made reservations for dinner at 7:00 p.m.. That night we returned to a great meal by Johnny. Patricia had pizza with wild mushrooms and I had duck, we both had broccoli and green and red pepper soup followed by six different hand made ice creams-lovely. All the while Johnny was playing Pucini in the background. What a romantic evening helped by a fine bottle of Bordeaux wine.
Back to the hotel to watch a little Garth Brooks and to sleep-not as good a sleep as I'd like to have had-trucks and tractors making the corner outside the window all night long. They would shift down and then up again making an awful racket especially when they have a loaded or empty wagon. We were up anyway. Guess we'll shower before breakfast. Then to the Castle Birr to walk the gardens in zero weather-burr! Frost on car windows many men scrapping it off. We watch while eating breakfast! The spectacular gardens at Birr Castle could take a month to view and more like a year to fully appreciate considering the seasons. This is late fall with Zero temperature and it was gorgeously in "fall bloom". Think how magnificent it would be in spring. It had a stream, a lake, several waterfalls, some backwater areas-all to support different kinds of plants. One section was called the fernery and was full of ferns. One end contained the kitchen and next to it the formal gardens. An apple orchard was located behind the hot houses. Many birds flitted through the trees. We left after buying some pipen apples picked from the garden and saying goodby to Johnny our cook the night before. He said his six foot one inch wife was just then buying apples at the castle.
There were many Tinkers on the road as we "sped" off towards Clonmacnoise, monestary of St. Ciernan. It was beautiful eire and full of energy-at least that's what Anthony said. We couldn't seem to get away from Birr or the Shannon River. Finally we arrived in Carlow, got a place at Brownsville B&B and go to a dinner at Reddys-true enough we were ready too. Sleep and food seem to be the best remedy for most things. Dinner was chicken Kiev for Patricia and sirloin for me. They eat a lot of mushrooms here-quite tasty. Friday morning we eat in a beautiful room overlooking or rather underlooking the rear lawn. The lady of the house decorated with antiques. She had three tall clocks I would love to own (just one would be fine). We went up town to the library to search for Margaret McDonald's parents-James McDonald and Mary Walsh. We looked through the records for Dunlecky and Bohermore, two nearby areas-near to Begnalstown. We found numerous references to them but nothing for sure. They suggested the Cathedral and to check in the office across the street. The old lady there told us to go to St. Andrews at Begnalstown and talk to the priest. So we are off but must stop to see Brownshill Dolmen on the way - a spectacular 100 ton capstone very prominent on a rising in the middle of a cow field. Nearby we found a Mass Rock which wasn't on the literature that I'd picked up the day before. Hard to find and even harder to get back on the road. The road to Begnalstown ran right into St. Andrews - couldn't miss it if you tried. Stopped in the jewelry store across the street and the family crest said McCullach and Walsh-what a coincidence but the man knew very little about his ancestry a somewhat touchy subject with some Irish. He did know where the priest lived and away we went around the corner - second house on the left - next block over directly behind the church. An older women answered the door and warmly welcomed us in and proceeded to get the old marriage and birth records down to look at until Maria O'Donnell returned. Maria went through them for us and found them in the book. She found both a Mary and a Margaret born 20 odd days apart to the same parents. She said she'd never run across something like that before - twins so far apart. She offered to do more research and we left our name and address and went on our way over to the old church and graveyard. We ate a late lunch from the deli and climbed around a badly overgrown graveyard for several hours. We didn't see the markers we were looking for and unfortunately found out too late that a William Dillon had a list of who was buried there. Late in the day we headed down toward Kilkenny looking for a B&B. One old castle or estate had a sign out for guests. We turned in but a red car blocked the drive. After a moments hesitation we went around on the soft green grass. When we got to the house a cream colored lab and a white cat were the only living things around. We knocked on the door but no none answered. It looked like it would be beautiful inside although the outside was grey and spooky. We left and returned to the main road past the gate lodge. No red car was there on the return trip. As dark was falling we saw a sign just a few miles outside of Kilkenny that said Country House-Blanxville. Monica Phelan answered the door and I apolized for ringing the bell but we've come a long way down the lane looking for the country house and could this be it-yes, and she had a cancellation so she could take us in for the night. With a place to stay we sped off to Longstar Bar for food, music, and a brew-to our delight Patricia had mussels, I had lamb chops and everything was warm and wonderful. Later we returned to the bar area for a Guinness and to listen to home brew music. Next to me was Ted Barry from Waterford and we chatted till he left. We left shortly thereafter and the cold had set in-below zero that night. Past Pike's place down the lake over the railway tracks turn left at Conneley's pub, past the gun club's private land and at last to Blanxville country home. Patricia opted for bed while I after some hesitation and discussion with Patricia joined the other guests in the drawing room. They were having coffee or tea sitting around chatting about Harrison Ford's latest movie comparing it to old ones such as Witness and discussing the plot of The Firm to the chagrin of Gary trying to read it without knowing the plot ahead of time. Marc O'Conner was the most extroverted with Gary a subtle and sly artist of the well placed line. Marc's wife Paula was quiet but supportive while Gary's wife Francine was confrontive. Paul's wife was quiet but languid and reticent . An older couple with a grown but sophisticated son were on holiday from England and seemed not to be part of the gang but were appreciative of the conversation. Francine was reading the history of the house-built by Lord Kearney in the 1700's and she began to read about two daughters haunting the house searching for their sister. Everyone started to talk about ghosts. Earlier they had asked me what I was doing on holiday since it was obvious when I said "Hello" I was a "Yank". I told them I had come to get incite on the Irish film critic and brief comments of book reviews. Since it was timely they all laughed, perhaps out of kindness. I now interjected and asked perchance would they like to hear a story albeit emotional for me about an apparition-an experience that I'd had. I unreeled my tale about my Mother's death and her coming to me. The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop - when at the most exciting moment in the story - in walks Margaret the Irish serving girl. I waited till she left but what a loss. Everyone liked my story. We turned to prejudices and biases and I asked about the Tinkers. They thought wasn't that many, but they'd all had bad experiences with them. I had brought them up as an example of the average Irish's feeling towards these "campers". Finally I turned in for the night.
The next morning Saturday the 17th was exceedingly cold. Breakfast was served and when I asked for the scramble to include mushrooms and sausages it was thought to be obscure and an aberration, something they hadn't thought of themselves. Scrambled eggs with other items seemed an abstract thought lest alone the execution. Paul's wife tried it and liked it and Philip's folly (after the bell towers Kearney's Folly in the yard) became the name of the new dish-a treat. the group from Dublin as they turned out to be traded macho insults or one up-manships for hours. Finally it was time to go. They left to go shopping but not after Paul gave me a souvenir of the Irish World Cup soccer playoff game they lost against Spain. Something we watched in Birr which was billed as the biggest game ever. They asked me to stay over and keep them company Saturday night but alas no-the house in Adrigole awaits. After card swapping , picture taking , and saying good-bye not alone paying our hostess we were off albeit late on our way to Thurles, Mallow, Tipperary, Glengariff and Balleylicky past the mountains and green vistas to the Sullivan's represented by the daughter Finolla. After checking out the 50p electric meter we were off up to Hally's Pub for a ham sandwich and Guinness. It was 10lbs extra for heat but that wasn't really a question . Trouble parking in downtown Adrigole (a pub and a church) due to a funeral at the church. Just one of the reasons to live and die in Ireland - the whole town turns out for your funeraalll. Of course some of them are there to make sure it is true.
Rhymes of the day
I spent the day
In Bantry Bay
Overlooking the Lee
And graves of ancestry
You'll have a good time - if
you spend time in Glengariff
Is very pretty
Finolla gave us the keys and we are in for the night! Wine and Guinness don't mix well. We consumed 3/4 bottle of wine last night and this morning both our heads hurt. In fact mine hurts a little now. A couple of minor notes about yesterday. In making jokes with the Dubliners at breakfast I talked about Ireland's three breeds of cows; the black cows with white spots, the white cows with black spots and the violet (violent) cows. Cows that become farmers pets and will actually fetch sticks. The idea that Tinkers like black and white horses because they can graze them with the cows and the farmer doesn't even get suspicious. The last and very subtle joke was: 1/2 of the Vikings were women! We were collectively cracking up over almost nothing. The Dubliners (there were four couples) wanted us to go shopping with thme in Kilkenny - I think for their amusment but we declined. One other note: yesterday in Macroom a bookseller wanted 80L for a first edition of Robert Gibbings' "Sweet Cork Tis of Thee". I know where I'll sell my treasures.
Today, Sunday October 17th we headed off to Castletownbere 13 miles to the south for breakfast. When we got there everyone was going to church. All the restaurants were closed. The hotel Birr would serve us coffee and toast from the bar. As we were both hungover this sounded real good. Young Claudah, about 3 years old joined us with her glass of milk and later took some of our toast. She had two dolls in a toy stroller. After a little of that she went running outside and came back a with a push car and then a bicycle. She went down the stairs in her car and let out little squeals with each step. Later for lunch in the other part of the hotel Finulla entertained us with her counting as she raced back and forth. I had roast leg of pork and Patricia had stuffed chicken breast with thigh. For dessert I had strawberry mouse and Patricia had apple crumble. We walked around and looked at the estuary with skeletons of derelict boats. We went up to the community center and watched Castletownbere play Skibbereen. The local lads looked overmatched and their red jerseys showed the stain of perspiration. White shirted Skibbereen looked good but when we left both teams had scored just one goal each. We bought some groceries for the cottage and headed home. We drove up to Glengariff to see if we would get some turf to burn but alas no. A cheerful old man split some wood for us and told me to "spare none" to get the fire working. We came back and make our soup for dinner then headed back to Castletownbere to listen to Irish music and to check out a cailegk-pronounced keilesg. We found some music in Murphy's bar and they sounded very good. The lead singer played tin pipe, flute guitar and who knows? Another Bill showed up wait a harmonica and although he was good the others didn't know his "Basque" songs. Sad. The ceiligk turns out to be a few old and young couples dancing. Home and to bed.
October 18, Monday - We were up at the crack of 9:00 am; it stays dark here until about 8:00 am or maybe later. The sun comes up in the sough-east and sets in the south-west or so it seems to me. This morning we made our own Irish breakfast sans the toasted tomato. It was very good. After breakfast we head up into the hills to view the wedge tomb, the standing stones called Gallons and an several old ruins. Above the ruins about a half mile from the ridge top was a very old stone house demesne or ruin. The view from that one room stone cottage was one to kill for. We kept looking for the Ogham stone and holy well but came back to the rental cottage to eat lunch. It was already after 4:00 p.m. and it was getting dark gray. Words don't describe the beauty of the area. We talked to an older man at the wedge grave. He said the Germans and Dutch were buying up the area and turning some of the cabins into summer rentals. He seemed very spry for his age which I'd guess was around 70. He had a gentle golden and white collie that limped. The dog made instant friends with Patricia. After hiking the old road and viewing the stones and ruins we came back for food-a sandwich, apple, cheese and a "cuppa" coffee. Life is simple and sweet.
Last night an old man in Glengariff. As we walked down the street-this old gray haired guy, small and a but shaky said "It's a cold one isn't it?" Yes and we are looking for peat to warm the night I said in reply. "You've no peat for your fire?" said he. "No and I'll be the sorrier for by morning won't I?" "Wait a small minute" he said as he quickly disappeared into a doorway a few feet away. Out with an ax he came and pop, pop, pop. Three swings and six pieces of logs. "Here" he said "take these". "Don't spare the wood, lay it all on-get some started and yee be set for the night". "Thanks" I said, struggling under the load "God bless and a warm life to you, for one night in not enough" "God bless you too!" he replied.
Well today we finally got some matches and after searching some compressed peat and wood. What a gorgeous fire. We are about to have some tea and sit and read. We stopped at a little store the other side of the Adrigole church and bought some things for dinner as well as the peat. We bought some gorse wine make locally in Kerry by O'Neill. It smells or has an aroma of kerosene, tastes of flowers and an after taste of alcohol. A bit more work is needed in the wine industry here. The store was owned and operated by Finn O'Sullivan who said to talk to his sister Sheila next door-she does likes someone to talk with he said. When I told him I was from San Francisco he said he'd been there in 1981 and would have stayed-it was the best weather he'd ever experienced. He'd stay there if he could. I told him I'd seen a lot of O'Sullivans up in the grave yard in Kilcaskiln. "Yeah, that is where all of us O'Sullivans wind up !" The cemetery and holy well are at a very old church ruin. There is an Ogham stone there as well. We saw many (9) calluns (standing stones) and one possible fairy ring and a a wedge grave. Many ruins. One cabin at the very top of the draw was so old but the view back down on Adrigole and Bantry Bay was breath-taking. The sun filtered by gray clouds was reflected on the like yellow diamonds. The rocks of Hungry Hill swirl in remembrance of volcanic upheaval. Incredible. The fire beacons!
October 19th, Tuesday, the sun was up as a fiery dot at 7:30 a.m. By 9:00 a.m. it looked to be a reasonable day. By 11:30 a.m. we had eaten our oats and fruit and were showering for our trip to Glengariff to visit the Garnish Island garden. We stopped to take a picture of a white donkey or mule (hard to tell which) which had somehow escaped to the roadside where the grass seemed greener to me too. It stuck its face into the window to be petted. Within a few minutes the stench was unbearable and unbreathable. We sped off wondering how such a sweet little animal could stink so bad. As we sped along it seemed to get worse not better. Then we noticed something glop or ooze out of the truck in front of us-the one that had passed when we stopped to take the donkey's picture. Moments later it pulled over and we sped by and to our relief the air was shortly sweet again. In Glengariff, I slowed down looking at the sign that said announced boats to the island. An older gentleman with a large nick missing from his ear was somehow peering in my window and I was trying to figure out what I'd done when he gently said "If you're looking for a boat to the island, just pull in here and the boat will be here for you in just ten minutes". How did he know? The boatman later remarked to this question that just like doctors and dentists this man knew who needed his services. That is why the duties were separated as they were. For his part he couldn't tell one car's interest from another and the old man wasn't about to run his boat out to the island and back. As I got out of the car the truck passed and the awful smell permeated the air. I asked the old man what is in that terrible smelling truck . He told me that the fish guts from a fish processing plant in Castlestownbere were trucked to Cork where they are made into fish meal for fertilizer. Patricia later asked how anyone could work in a place that smelled like that. To me it seemed illegal to take it down a public road especially in a container that glopped onto the road.
The boatman's name was Tony Murphy and he married a girl named Furlong from Bodega Bay, California. He spent eight months in and around the area and knew my home town, Larkspur, well. Small world! He was even a 49er fan having picked up an understanding of the game while he was there. Met her on his boat here in Glengarrif. A small row boat, blue with outboard motor that could possibly take six passengers. He said it was a "Lazy Boy" so called because it rocked with the waves. A man who seemed to be kneeling on the water in the distance caught my attention. It was startling. Tony said he was actually on a small raft, was catching scallops under the water-that he was rather child-like and he sort of played around all the time. I didn't ask further questions. The island itself was very beautiful with many of the plants found in California, a reflecting pool and a 1815 round tower and demesne. Patricia enjoyed it and usually was several steps ahead of me while I filmed the flora and fauna. A small red-breasted robin kept teasing me by darting and flitting from limb to limb and to the ground a few feet from me. I would get the camera focused only to loose site of him as he jumped to some other little limb. He was singing away as if mocking me in a joyous sort of way. I was entranced, captivated by his antics and sure that I was unable to comprehend his message. Afterwards we headed off to Skibbereen through Ballylickey, Bantry and Ballydehob stopping in Ballydehob to check on some miniature paintings sold by an artist /art teacher we'd met on our last trip. I remember a small sailing ship battling the waves. Alas, his shop was for sale and the gallery moved to another location which was closed for the winter. The landlord working on the building let us in after I told my sad tale. He said the old man had disappeared, vanished, but most likely just moved away. No one seemed to know for sure. I wish I'd had asked where, because the sailing ship was not among the items for sale. I picked out another boat scene and after getting the contents for a sandwich we were off again. At the island the fee for the boat 5L did not include the entry to the island itself and about half way around Dennis O'Sullivan came running up with a change box in hand explaining that it was 1.50L to visit the island. I asked him his name since it was obvious he was running a 'scam' charging innocent tourists extra after the hardworking boatman had left them with no way to retreat. I said it in such a way that he knew I was kidding. He said he would have collected at the gate but that he was on lunch break. Well, go back on break I told him and we'll be off the island before he is finished-he laughed , we paid. The boatman said he'd pick us up in 45 minutes, we bargained for 1 hour compromised for 50 minutes and finished without hurrying right on the money. The boatman gave us the other ten minutes, either that or he was late. I'm relating this because when we reached Skibbereen we shopped around awhile and finally wound up in a shop and eventually mentioned that we'd been on Garnish Island and the lady said her daughter worked there during the summer and wished it was longer. I told her we almost were not charged but a young man caught up with us with a change box. That must have been Dennis O'Sullivan she said-he is one of the gardeners. Small world-what a coincidence or just Ireland. We picked up two shepherd's pies at a cafe as "take aways" across the street just as it was closing up. We ate overlooking the river that flowed through the town with cows in the pasture across the river and the mountains in the distance. Swans at the river's edge were busy eating tender morsels with their long necks easily submerging their heads. We sped home to sit by the fire, sip some single malt Bushmills and read. A fine quiet evening but now it is late.
October 20th started with a thin ribbon of crimson on the southeastern horizon at 7:30 a.m. Soon the bacon was sizzling and the oatmeal was bubbling. Eggs over easy and orange juice and toast followed. The sun rose in the southern sky until it lit up the day. By 9:30 a.m. the washing was hanging on the line both the white socks and the grey undies. Never mix colored clothes with whites. By 11:30 a.m. thirty I'd finished my writing for the morning the day beckoned and we decided to find the waterfall and then do Healy Pass over the Caha Mountains. The waterfall was up a tiny fuchsia lined road or at least that is where the sign pointed. Signs in Ireland could be a whole chapter in itself but for the most part they are a pretty good indicator of the general direction at least. It is not unusual to come across a post with half-a-dozen and more pointers in both the new kilometer and the old mile arrow signs. And just as often, you will probably need to stop and study it for awhile. Usually it is in a place that is unsafe to stop but not to worry. Even Though Ireland has the highest accident rate per capita in the world (or so the car rental person said when selling insurance) for the most part the Irish drivers will miss you - most of the time. The roads are so narrow it is wise to get as far to the side as possible when you stop because no matter how isolated the spot looks it is almost guaranteed that within a few seconds a car will go by and usually fast. When driving, keep reminding yourself to get to the left, stay to left, get the left, stay to the left. Patricia and I were usually singing this outloud for several days and at least once a day particularly after a near miss. Actually what scared me the most was the thought that the approaching driver might panic and might also be from America, meaning that even if I did stay to the left there was no assurances that the other driver would.
We continued on the small road when suddenly around the corner came a large frozen meat truck - head on. Not to worry, that is why cars have reverse gear and driving backward down a small fuchsia lined road can be even more exciting than going forward. At last the truck squeezed by with a smile and wave by the driver and a little "toot toot' of the horn as if complimenting my prowess in reverse. Drivers wave excitedly as if they know you and at first I kept wondering who they were - friends from the states or what. I couldd never quite make a friends face out of the drivers but several looked very familiar. I wondered how excited they must get when they see someone they really know. A man walking by when asked if the waterfall was up this way advised us to walk. Park up ahead and walk. It seemed to be a philosophically based statement rooted in his approach to transportation. A few yards further up the road just out of sight around the corner was an Italian subcompact car green in color without wheels propped up on stones with letters in white spray paint that said "PARK HERE". It seemed an invitation to having your car reduced to a similar state while seeking the mystical mythical waterfall. After some hesitation and upon spying a short post with a little stenciled yellow hiking man, complete with a walking stick, a knap sack on his back, and an accompanying arrow pointing the way, we decided to chance it. Besides we had every kind of car insurance know to man and the car already looked like it had been vandalized. The road turned into a path so it was park and walk or leave. We passed through an old farm yard with several old stone houses now used for sheds. One old house was brightly whitewashed with smoke seeping upward lazily from an ancient chimney. A plaque on the door said O'Sullivan and the yard was full of flowers, one kind after another. Past this we came to a fence full of cow faces staring at us expectantly as though we were going to lead them to the next mouth full or to the promised land. I wondered about my inability to deal with their expectations of me. What were they thinking about - they couldn't confuse me with the wellingtoned individual that attends to them regularly. I could not accept that. They were so big and yet so docile. Regardless they were with calves so we moved through the gates and gave them a wide birth to the right. For the next 45 minutes we picked our way through the bog water and cow piles and hoof holes. We followed the stream for awhile when two black and white sheep dogs came to greet us. The ears were back and the heads were down like when they herd sheep or when they attack.
I wasn't sure if they were friendly although the farmer was in the next field spreading fertilizer (smelled like he was recycling the barn scrubbings) and just plain enjoying his big red tractor toy. I pointed my walking stick I picked up just for dogs at them and they turned tail and headed back over to the farmers side of the stream. We headed back around the corner to the right and into a box canyon strewn with boulders and big grey rocks. We climbed the green slopes to avoid the brown bog and green water soaked earth. Far ahead we could see what would be a magnificent waterfall if it had water in it. The shadows of moving clouds played tag as they chased each other down the mountain side and across the meadow. You could feel their coolness as they passed by one after the other. The wind was blowing strongly and we decided to retreat. There were several weird stone configurations often aided by human hands. In two cases large rocks protruded out leaving spaces underneath that could be occupied by man or sheep. In both cases it appeared that the stones were placed to hold water like pools under these stones. Several more small enclosures were like small rooms missing roofs but obviously intended to cut the wind.
Returning to our car an old woman dressed in earth tones to be kind and a scarf on her head came from picking from a pile of dead branches to talk with us. It was her pretty little white house with the flowers. She had lived very close by which was very fortunate. She eyed my walking stick and wondered if it was comfortable and where had I gotten it. I told her here from a pile just down the road and it was comfortable if held just right. She said she gave people walking sticks and only charged 50p when they insisted on giving her something. I told her mine was not that comfortable and I was going to put it back in the stack it came from. She remarked that some people found them very useful while others were disdainful. I told her I used fit to test the bog cause I heard it can get deep. She said only near the waterfall and then only a foot or so. She then turned to pick us a handful of fuchsias for a bouquet. I attempted to resist for in fact they grow everywhere but it was an act of kindness that was not to be denied. She seemed to know the house we were staying in but did not know the standing stone in the next road into the same area except on the other side of the creek. I asked her first name so that I could say hello to the O'Sullivans on either side of us. She said her name was Lizzy or Liz. We walked off then and me noticing the food on her chin and thinking God give me the sensitivity to tell when I have food on my chin.
Our car was intact and we searched up the next road for a standing stone. Just before the road ended in a farm house yard there it was massive in all its upright glory in its own bright green field that it shared with a few blue backed sheep.
The next adventure of the day was the Healy Pass a switch back road that moved ever upward and over Hungry Hill of the Caha Mountains. It was narrow and dropped off to Patricia side. A tremendous full arched rainbow presented itself to us circumscribing a small mountain framing it beautifully. At the top of the mountain a statue of Mary looked down to Adrigole far below and as we slowed at the foot of Mary's shrine it rained. Over the crest and a lovely lake appeared and beyond the Kenmare River looking very much like a bay in its own right. The rainbow was there too. We followed the enclosed tube of fuchsias to the bottom and on around to Eyeries a coastal village of cuteness and summer cottage type homes. Not far from Eyeries was a place called Adrigroom which had a small pointer that said Stone Circle. This is like Stonehenge on a small scale and what a mystic site to behold. Twelve to thirteen stones standing up to 12 feet in a circle. One high stone off a few feet to the east. In the distance a cone shaped hill almost perfectly shaped. This area was special, next to the stone ring was an earthen mound with stones circled. You could also make out faintly a rath around the entire area. The stones give a peaceful powerful feeling.
Further along the road we followed a sign to a wedge tomb but all we could see was a standing stone albeit a large one. Our adventure finished up at Castletownbere and we did some quick shopping for dinner.
For dinner we had planned an Irish dinner of back bacon with cabbage, turnips (the size is terrific and good, too) potatoes, onions and carrots. We now know what makes the old houses smell the way they do-it's the bacon boiled in a pot. We drained it once putting in new clear water and it smelled much better. Along with Bushmills, coffee, some cut up vegetables and some apples it turned out to be sumptuous-meaning delicious.
October 21st the sun was up by 8:30 a.m., which was preceded by about an hours worth of color beginning with a dark pink and finishing with a pale peach. I didn't actually see the sun rise being preoccupied off and on with dozing. Coffee strong, mush diluted with butter and pepper and some sweet black currant juice diluted to taste.
Today we decided to spend the day shopping and browsing, sticking our noses into every nook and cranny. On the way we stopped to view some peculiar stones and in Ballylickey we stopped to view the work of Klee an artist whose work is dark and moody and as a lady in the art store in Bantry said, "he was full of himself and his angry skies." She got that right. We also followed a twisting little tree lined path of a road seeking the house that went with a "for sale" sign. We passed a postman having lunch in his little green van. We also passed several locked gates that looked well off enough to suit me but at the end of the road no sign was attached to a beautiful house that overlooked Bantry Bay. We sheepishly backed the car around and soon re-passed the postman now finishing his lunch.
In Bantry we bought a few pippins of I'm sure an ancient variety like those we'd gotten from the castle in Birr. The apples are yellow kissed with red cheeks and snap when eaten. Across to the bookstore for new and used books. Two books by Thomas Gwyn for which I'd been looking for some time at half the price of the same book in Galway. They had one Robert Gibbings "Lovely is the Lee" at 10L-too much. The owner was chatting with me from the beginning since I walked in the door. She was probably 70 and reminded me of myself-the same serious blue eyes, not flashy like some. Her name was Cecillia Carrol and the assistant chimed in with the fact that she was Bantry's "person of the year". She was involved in charity work helping the handicapped. After a few more comments she appeared to be leaving and I asked before you go can you recommend a place to eat lunch. Oh, she said you'll get a nice meal at O'Connor's or the Bantry Hotel but she recommended O'Connor's. She was just stepping over the threshold when as an aside I said thanks I've got O'Connor blood in me so it'll be good to eat there. She was back in a flash and looking me square in the eye. "We could be related then for my maiden name is O'Connor" , she stated. Yes, I thought we chatted together very easily-"Yes" she added "When the bloods the same it is easy to like someone". "We've got the same serious blue eyes and same color hair", she said. "I'm off to the hair stylist now" she said stroking her softly burnt orange hair. Moments are too short when feelings are good. We wandered over to O'Connor's and had a great lunch-Patricia had muscles grilled and I had shepherds pie and a Guinness. After lunch we wandered in and out of several stores. Finally a pub with a sign said make your own calls from here hooked us. The man inside the pub explained how to use the phone and told us where one was that would do what we wanted-to call Patrick and check on COBRA. I had to go through three operators and all sorts of rings and buzzes before being put through to AT&T and then clear as a bell (whoops). 01 for operator, 114 for information and finally 1800 55 0000 for AT&T. Earlier in a crafts store I saw the pictures I had been looking for in Ballydehob-the same and a story that confirmed it. I didn't get the one I had been looking for but I got my second choice. A ship in heavy seas. The man who had the little gallery in Ballydehob had disappeared and the artists had moved their work to this store. Strange coincidences occur in Ireland. We wandered around and finally bought some art supplies so I could paint and heard one woman's view of Klee's artwork. One painting he did was three women with red skirts and black shawls with hoods were standing on a rock with no faces-perhaps looking out to sea. The rest was heavy pictures with much use of black. Of course she was a dried flower arranger and did very nice work but I'm not sure of her qualifications as an art critic. We enjoyed listening to her. I'm going to paint a red cow in a green pasture near the sea on a grey day. Soon we were sipping coffee and resting our weary little feet. On the way back we detoured to Kilkeal to seek out some stone ring. The woman said high above the town and the man said go back toward town pointed to his right arm and said on this side just passed the crossover of the telephone wire. Sure enough there was a high (tall) stone up on the right. There was a stone ring clearly visible on the left. Dilemma-which one-I ran over to the right and as I gained ground I could see it was no ordinary stone ring. It was accompanied by two high standing stones with sharp upturned stones within. The book thought it was a ritual site while I think maybe it was an unfinished cairn. Racing back to the car I see a women walking away. She'd been talking to Patricia . Two miles from anywhere, a small road, 7 degrees and a women is out walking a minute or two after I leave. Of course a truck appeared two seconds after I jumped out-unbelievable. It reminded me of the movie Tremors. The nearby site was equally as unusual with six (2x3) megalithic cromlechs with 6 standing stones in alignment. It appeared disturbed but again the area was magical. A quick trip home to Adrigole, some hot turnips and leftovers fried as a stir about. A little Bushmills and a big sleep till tomorrow.
October 22 th something woke me suddenly last night at 2:30 a.m. A cow was staring expectantly from the field across the road. I could see his white face plainly in the black night. A pair of yellow lights danced down the road and passed by in a glare. I had been dreaming of the burial mounds of Timothy and William and relating that to a saying of my Mothers. "William and Timothy Walsh are buried in Tinkers tombs along a sacred road, anyone who disturbs them from their sleep shall be turned into a toad." In this dream I was interested in knowing if these were the tombs of her ditty seeing as how they might be related. The legend is that the two represent some fertility cult since they were identical twins and all of their offspring were identical twins. The legend also states that they died almost simultaneously. Of course this is just a dream.
Another dissimilar but equally disquieting thought is the number of people we've noticed with extended tongues. They seem to not have control of them for they stick out of their mouths and hang down. Back to sleep!
A clear day all day. We met our neighbor Sheila and said hello as her brother Finn has requested. We talked to a lot of old men in their 70's and 80's today. The caretakers father Joe O'Sullivan , 88, was out giving the cows some hay-last years hay "might as well use it up". He told me a story of the local blacksmith who was very strong. A blacksmith from Skibbereen heard of him and rode over on horseback to wrestle the local man. The local guy said sure but how about a pipeful together first. The Skibbereen man said O.K. and after the pipes had been filled the local man placed an ember on the anvil then held the anvil straight out to the other man (100 stone weight) "Want a light?" The other man smoked the pipe made some excuses and returned to Skibbereen We spent the afternoon hiking up behind the house looking but not finding any more stones. We met an old man that told us he knew where some Ogham stones were in a fence. Patricia and I looked at each other and I guess "no" not today-we had just climbed over under and through enough for one afternoon. We decided to drive around the walk Shiela had mentioned. Just a few yards off the main road and behind this house was a standing stone. As I stopped and got the camera ready I noticed there was a guy standing there as well or near by at least. I asked if it was O.K. to take a picture of his stone. Sure they (his father, his grandfather and his father too) "had not moved the stone at all since it was not good luck. A fella he knew of had moved one and he died." There is another down the road second road to the left just inside the silver gate. Should have been easy but we couldn't find it. Back up around the high roads against the Caha to see if we could find a stone circle within a few miles of the house or a mass rock where they (the Catholics) held mass when they were not allowed to have churches or priests. Struck out on both. Our last supper at Adrigole was to be held at the Old Cottage at the beginning of Castletownbere and then some music. This was more true than I'd have desired. I ordered "American T bone-wrong! The waitress told us how she and her husband (a chef) left Holland almost penniless and came to Ireland. They fixed up this place -the floorboards had rotted-how they sleptt with their three kids in a van for four years and how they at last were doing O.K. They owned the house next door and the government gave them a loan to fix up the restaurant and expand it from 5 tables to its present 12 tables. The meal was bad. After such good reviews in the address book, too! It probably was good German food. The salad had a bit of lettuce, two pieces of tomato-so far so good but then it had a pickle and two pickled onions with an onion and vinegar dressing. The vegetables were O.K. tasting but overcooked and covered with cheese so what did it taste like. The vegetables were broccoli, potatoes and cheeseballs and marble sized potatoes which were good but only a few. The steak was baked on a salmon grate and tasted like one-yuk! The steak wasn't hot or done very well at all. I sent it back twice and it still wasn't any good. We left. Patricia's mussels had their beards on which is like sea moss ask Patricia about that-looked ugly and the only time she didn't finish a bowl of mussels since I've known her.
No music in the bars-very cold night. Teenagers sitting about and ordering from the grill take away. You could sense the limits to life as a teen in Ireland. On the roads they hitch to and away from town sometimes late at night-often at places that seem very lonely but of course a house is probably a few feet away in the bushes. Home disappointed but to bed. Tomorrow is a day to get away.
October 23rd was one of the few days we were up early-We had to be out at 10:30 but when I went to give the key back a sleepy eyed freckled face preteen girl answered demurely. We had cleaned it good had breakfast of eggs and toast and were ready at 10:00. One last look at Bantry Bay. We had painted the night before and did quite well-no spills. No writing other than finishing my church stories-I will soon.
We are off to Kilgarvan 15 minutes before the deadline if that really means anything. The morning is crisp and the leaves are falling in all colors. Just before Ballylickey is the turn off to the road to Kilgarvan. It looked short but it wound up through, over and down the Sheehy Mountains in what was truly extraordinary beauty. The road went through the Cougan Barra, ancient monastery area but we did not see it. We did see a lot of sheep and a number of green areas. We saw a sign to Caricas Grave and took the signs direction. Finally the resting place of a McCarthy that died and was buried on the spot. Not knowing who or for what he died we moved on. The road got very narrow before ali kazam! it widened out again. A few minutes later we were in Kilgarvan. We asked a young women if she could direct us to Mary Traynor's house. She said "you'll be wanting the River Side Farm down the road-you can't miss it." Knowing the Irish directions I was sure right because shortly on the left was a big sign. Rather than go to Kenmare immediately we decided to check and see if the house was ready. What a beautiful grey colt scampered in the nearby field. Young Mary 25 year old daughter answered the door and mother Mary came after awhile-Yes, the house was ready Kiren (son of Mary about 32) had gone up to light the fires and warm the house. She took us there through some pretty rough country but alas to a cute little 17th century remodeled cottage with 4 bedrooms, 2 baths a kitchen and living room. The walls are three feet thick but boy was it cold inside. We turned on all the heaters we could. This not like you'd think. The fireplace heats up a tank of water which is piped to radiators in various parts of the house. It was so cold we slept with our clothes on. After learning all the tricks we waited till they left and headed for Kenmare-yuppyville for the Killarney overflow. We shopped, lunched on soup and sandwiches and continued shopping. We decided to eat at the Old Bank House (another one named the same in Castletownbere) since it was given raving marks from three women we met shopping that were from San Francisco area. One lady named Jerry Bass looked so familiar I just asked her are you from San Francisco. The other two Tony Marie and Shiela Murphy looked like they lived in Ireland. There was to be music that night in the Landsdown Hotel but we couldn't make it. The Old Bank House was excellent but as I ate my salad and lamb in pastry I was getting sicker and sicker. At the end I excused myself and threw up everything. That night I was very sick-still late to bed but not as cold.
October 24th was slow starting. We knew we needed some coal-supposed to be hotter than other fuels. One more comment about last night. We missed the turn off to our house and as a result went about 3 miles back into the mountains where there were few houses. Finally we came to a farm house which Kerin later said is a large "piggery" with over 10,000 pigs. We had already been met by four cars going. I didn't see how any would meet us going out. Wrong-met three going out and two passed us. Each of these encounters requires assistance from a friendly god. And with God back to Sunday-didn't expect to find anything open but there were several. The first place said she was expecting a shipment of fuels in the morning but to try up the road. She looked as though she was getting ready to go disco dancing or making Thanksgiving day dinner. They had some she was sure but they might not sell it to me. New thought for me. I went undeterred anyway. A nice young man said yep! he had some and he'd sell it to me. Why was I ever worried? We headed on up the road to see where it went and it eventually came to the main Cork - Killarney road. A useful piece of inforrmmmation. The road wanders through an ancient valley and you can make out roads from other times, bridges covered with green growth but still possessing the delicate arch that spanned the creek. With todays technology it would be a speed bump. The road meandered along a nice stream, one with rapids and deep pools. One side of the stream was a planted pine forest with a few picnic tables and roads to walk. The road ended at Glenflesk a one building pub with two cars. There may have been other buildings a few miles away but we didn't see them. The road passed by a tall fortress like structure with a building on top. We stopped on the way back and climbed the 30 foot encastlement. On top was an 1850s' school house with a view called Loos Bridge. I thought a loo was a toilet so what is the Loos River (as it turned out to be ?). Mysteries abound! On the way back we turned up to the pitch and watched a quarter or so of Irish football-sort of a free for all with a few rules, and conveniently a method of scaring probably to ensure that there is an outcome. It was cold and the lads were dressed in silk shorts and long sleeve shirts or so they should have been. We, fully outfitted for the Yukon decided to retire to our 17th Century ice box and try out the magic of coal. We couldn't understand the cheers anyway-come on lads, pull together lads, move it on now seemed remote from we will rock you! Passing the gate again I am reminded of our entrance-a sign that says 2L and two men chatting. I give him three pounds and ask is the price per person or per car. His response is "this will do fine". Now what does that mean? Probably overpaid! At last home to soup, coal fire burning brightly with the recumbent odors. fire watching is peaceful but not as colorful as TV. We watched some French movie for a while in black and white no less-the movie I mean. After reading for a while we retired to warm and comfortable sleep.
October 25th, was a cheery day and we decided to stay at the box for the day. After our daily ration of mush we headed off across the tundra in search of adventure. About 3 hours later we returned having seen a deep gorge of rock lined walls and a powerful waterfall. One phenomenon that continues to amaze me is the amount of fabric or plastic caught on the twigs along the streams. These streams must rise up during rainy spells and grab peoples laundry or some such thing and retrieved a blue skirt, a white shirt and a red sock, refused another green sock and a black boot-not a wellie!-on just a short hike. Back in the box we could see the boys on the pitch way over three hills away. Now they were dressed in red. At the earlier match it was blue or Kilgarven against green of Templenoe and we were well advised to root for the blue. The farmer Kiren came by-he seemed nice. Comes by several times a day to do things for the cows and odd jobs. He came at first in his beat up old car with his kerry blue terrier sitting in the front. What a gorgeous dog. More recently he has come on his blue multipurpose tractor. Once he came and got a bunch of wood from a barn that looks to be falling down. It is a pole barn and the poles look about beat. He has his hay stored there and God knows the cows wouldn't eat much of it-they eat silage. He will keep them in a small enclosure until March or April of 94. Makes me think of Jenny's statement about not eating things with faces. we talked for a long time and he told me where to find a stone circle not on the map. I told him the one in Kenmare looked "new". He kind of agreed. He repeated the old idea that messing with the stones was bad luck. I pointed out what I thought was an old stone fort across the way-a hump on a hillside. He said it was but the man graded it under-never did well after that and died young. I asked him about an old van in the meadow-he said the commission would hall it away for free with just a call but he didn't want to offend his neighbor. He said a lot of things. I asked about the old men I'd seen and he said they might be bachelors living with a sister or brother-that they wouldn't want sympathy-they'd scorn it. I said I'd seen a man way out on the road-nearly hit him. Yep he said, there is a man that walks down to the shop gets ten cigarettes and smokes them on the way back to his house. He goes back for ten more at all hours. He was spooky on the dark. I painted him-his eyes were very large in my headlights- A blue knit hat and a black pea -body navy jacket and blue eyes-that's how close I came to making a statistic of the man. I won't forget that look for a long time. I painted a little robin for the bird feeder-it is cute. I enjoy the painting-Patricia claims I'm copying her. I guess I am! We had our ham/bacon and veggies last night-great! Later we decided to try for music since it was a bank holiday-nothing, Kenmare was dead. There was a big community meeting in Kilgarvan and everyone went directly to the pub afterward. It was 11:30-these people live late. After a little fire watching we gave up at 1:00 and went to sleep.
October 26th, started with a reminder that this is winter. A grey cold day but eggs have their own sunshine built into them and we are happily trying to heat Patricia 's shower water-no luck-cold.
Today we decided to drive around and see the local stones ( I have a map) and then on to Sneem about 45 minutes away down the coast. Up through Kilgarvan, people in or just out of doorways, the scene a metaphor for Ireland. Finally we found the right road, ( the one we came into town on several days ago) driving the opposite way down a road can be an entirely new experience. The first place we missed is the Motor Museum. Three large sheds full of 20-25 old cars. After wandering around for ten minutes the owner comes to take 2L each explaining his wife is away and she usually tends to the "guests". The sign offered tea and scones and was what I promised Patricia to entice her into "the man's world of machine" a little tongue in cheek if read by women. Needless to say no tea, no scone. There were several old interesting cars in the lot. One small roadster was for sale 3000L. How much to ship? Unfortunately the bubble burst when he said he had to make the body. All kinds of parts, posters, pamphlets and other car lore memorabilia lined the walls. An extensive collection of small toy cars were in special cases along the walls. The sign of a collector!
We followed on up toward the McCarthy pronounced McCarty grave we'd see the other day and with two maps now found it fairly quickly. A beautiful large stone ring and nearby a high standing stone. On the way back down I spotted a ogham stone. A perfect day until I spotted an inscribed stone and left the car to check it out. Meanwhile a car was beeping the horn to get by and in my anxiety to get back I slipped into a deep cold ugly brown hole full of muck. When I pulled by the waiting car a huge man grinned sheepishly and shyly at me and said something polite. I felt a fool-he must have been waiting 15 minutes. But, then again so was Patricia -she has so much patience to put up with my follies. As I 'm writing this he probably is used to that kind of problem and was busy working on his multiplication tables.
We stopped in Kenmare to buy socks, music and Patricia bought a scarf in Cleo's hand made upscale craft shop. Only rich ladies weave for this shop.
On to Sneem passing Parkinisillia a very rich old world hotel overlooking Kenmare Bay. Around the corner to pretty perky little Sneem. A tourist town with charm was just closing as the sun was waning in the western sky-at least that is my belief because the grey was a little rosier-maybe mauve. On the way back we stopped at the Vestry restaurant. A Church of Ireland renovated as a restaurant. Patricia had salmon and Molly's purse for starters. I had lamb rack with melon salad of avocado, celery, melon, cucumber and herb dressing. We chatted with Kitty "Breen" Doyle for the entire two hour meal since no other guests arrived. In all it was a marvelous evening. Afterwards we found some music in Daley's pub in Kenmare with Derry playing guitar and singing rock and roll medleys running from Janis Joplin to Elvis. Coming up to our gate a dog (Australian shepherd) was looking through it at us-like a wolf with blue eyes and red when caught in the headlights-silly now but spooky then.
October 27th, Wednesday and up with the mush. the fire continues to glow-we had a hard time getting it going last night. We wanted to clean it out today but it won't quit-oh well, we've been painting all morning. I finished my red cow green field picture. On Sunday night I had a dream that I got lost in a stone maze. I kept stopping the dream and going in again because of the standing stones inside. It panicked me at first but after a while when I knew I could just restart the dream it was no problem. Patricia then got stuck in the maze. I couldn't just restart that but what I did was fly up in the air and could easily see the way out-then she kept getting lost in there but I just kept flying up and leading her out -this went on till I tired of the sequence I guess.
Off to town and the book store, O'Donalmei, curio shop, coffee shop, exchange and the Horseshoe Restaurant for chicken pot pie and coffee. Patricia had potatoes and leak (split pea) soup. I ordered steak pot pie so I guess they serve you what they want. Afterwards we checked for "Music Tonight" - Irish traditional, but without any prospects we went back home to our little Irish cottage.
The grey didn't let up all day. We painted. Patricia is getting good! Fried egg sandwich more painting ( earlier I painted a rock green like a frog). At about 10 a.m. we ventured into Kilgarvan for a pint of Guinness. Lots of people milling about. Selected the Roughty (pronounced rooty) Valley Bar. Watched about eight people play a card game called 31. By the time we'd finished I was convinced there were no rules merely to throw cards in the center of the table and occasionally get excited or laugh at your fellow player. I was convinced it was a card pitching contest . I could only understand about every fifth word. Back home to watch the fire and hit the sack.
October 28th, Thursday is the day we are going to Millstreet to see the horse show. We ate some of Johnny Moriarity's brack this morning along with eggs scrambled with ham and potatoes. We put a pot of beans on and tried to light the fire. For some reason it has been difficult to light. We painted until 3 o'clock. We are getting really good, well better than when we started. Time to go to the horse show in Millstreet. Out the back road from Kilgarvan to the Cork-Kilarney road and around through Glenflesk and Rathmore and Ballydaly to Millstreet. We entered into an area where the dealers were selling horse blankets and the latest in horsewear. In addition there was a bookseller who specialized in old horse books and an antique (emerald ring) jewelry dealer. After a long conversation about the red 12 watches from the twenties we went into the horse warm up area. What totally beautiful horses and all jumpers. It was the international jumping contest. We watched for a couple hours and before heading home in the rain to our bowl of beans, a hot fire, some Bushmills and some more painting and a piece of brack with tea. Thumbing through magazines we found several of the places we'd eaten written up including Annies of Ballydehob (we did not eat there it was closed) and Mathew D'Arcey of Kenmare's Old Bank House. I forget to mention that as we were leaving the horse show we saw the admission ticket area. Some how we'd gotten in without paying and without trying to ? Good night..
October 29th, Friday was reading day so as soon as we could get up (about 10) we quickly ate some potatoes and the remainder of the bacon/ham, tomatoes, cheese and some grapefruit and brack. Tomorrow we are down to brack and coffee. For dinner we ate a Patricia special soup and noodles concoction so very little is left.
After reading until 2:30 when we went to town to check with Patrick we'd been trying but with the hour set back we missed him a couple of times only to get my recording. In the meantime I've talked to enough operators to finally figure out how to dial direct. We called ahead to reserve the next two nights in Cork. There was a big welcome to Kenmare sign hanging across the street. What we just missed we don't know. It is amazing how much goes on in a small town that nobody knows about. We stopped for a coffee and cream stuffed donut. (holeless) before heading back. We also checked for any "music tonight" signs. The only thing we saw was a disco and auction at Martys' which was for teenagers so good-by Kenmare (pronounced air. On the way back we stopped at the demesne of the 1630 castle of Ardtully. Two story many rooms all with fire places. Two bridges and a salmon weirs; picture perfect a long time age. There was a deep fire place with a well above it on the tree covered path to the demesne-strange. Later I read they did iron smelting there, maybe that was it. Kerin had invited us to see his stables but a death in the family sort of ruined his day. He said to stop by and see the pace even if he wasn't there. We took the winding little road for several miles before we came to the River View Riding Stables upon the southern mountain side. Kerin wasn't there but his girl friend on a big chestnut was riding the road. Two small mulatto children were at the stables. They were cute but their presence surprised me. We turned back toward our little house where we finished up most of the grub and set into some serious painting. I gave up upon my self portrait and went to work on my blue horse. It goes well with my red cow. Tomorrow we must be up and out so good night.
October 30th, we are awakened by birds bounding around on the roof-it is a sunny day-a painting day but alas we must pack and go. Patricia has the coffee ready at 8:30 but it will take more than coffee to get the old bones moving.
It took us an hour moving easily to get things packed and the house shipshape. We used up all of the coal (2 bags at 7L each) and most of the food. I broke one dish but we're even for no paring knife and oh God no-no frying pan. I placed my red flower on tile in the fence post. The old pot in a stump, an old cooking earthenware carousel dish (glued anew) near the door, my green stone frog in the grass and my painting palettes on the old stone wall. The ancient bottle I left by the tree. As you can see I was distracted not only by these things but by the numerous birds that were out and about-everywhere. It was a sunny and beautiful green day with wispy misty mountains and falling yellow and orange leaves. A grey green wren lit two feet from my face and scolded me with meaningless chipping. A grey backed crow at the top of a nearby tree began a chant of warning some what akin to the bray of a donkey a sound unlikely to come from a bird.
Something had rid the bird feeder of the toast I left in it the day before. Not to worry I left what little bread we had and some oatmeal which numerous birds sample in short order-but there will be something left for the night marauder. Suddenly the time had come to lock up-with some sadness and head off to Mary Traynor's to settle accounts for the 2400 units of electricity which equaled 24L plus 1L a day for wood which was a good fair reduction from the 2L she mentioned at first particularly since we burned mostly coal. The wood not easy to burn. That first night was so cold coal was the only answer. Some nights the fire was so hot I thought it would melt the metal guard.
Mary's husband met us and took the potatoes I offered graciously lest "there be waste". Small world as he proceeded to describe his training at Treasure Island prior to World War II. He was in the English Air Force and was shipped to Treasure Island for training prior to the U.S. joining the war effort. He was there when the Japanese hit Honolulu, Hawaii. He was moved to San Diego and Maine before taking part in the Pacific theater. He mentioned Burma and then he went to Europe to fight there. It would have been good to talk more but he bid us a good trip explaining that he had to go brush his horse-a gorgeous steed hanging his chestnut head over the bottom half of a split door. He was the kind of man that talked and when he had finished, leaves for he has nothing further to say regardless of your unanswered questions let alone your comments that awaited unheard.
A pleasant drive uninterrupted until Ballyvouney a Gaelic speaking community which beckoned to us with a craft shop for quilts. Good prices and the lady told us about St. Gobnait, a pagan place now dedicated to the ruins of her church. It had a cannon ball, a robbers head and a Shiela na' gig as stations, in the rounds of devotion to St. Gobnait. We back tracked to see it and were again on the road slowed only by a standing stone in someone's front yard. Pottery signs next caught our interest and we stopped to look. The lady liked my painting of the old man-there was a story there but time did not allow it. Her partner died and she continues.
Finally Cork and its confusing roadways almost guaranteeing a lost or frustrated tourist. We stopped for coffee and to ask where our hotel was. Victoria Lodge can be seen right through there pointed the attendant. We were so close.
We rested and went to the city center to shop-and be bumped by the crowds. We bought some old linen and ate in a cafeteria overlooking Patrick St. Back to the hotel to rest and out for a Guinness at the corner pub. A place where people bring their friends to because having the party at home is a bore-to the hotel to bed.
October 31st, after the full Irish breakfast which was the best here at Victoria Lodge at Victoria Cross we discovered we'd lost the name of the hotel we were going to stay in Sunday night. We were in the car ready to go. We had already made the reservations. Back to our room-no book. Back to the receptionist-no book. The receptionist starts to go through the telephone book. We remember Glenmore. She suggests Gylemire-she names a few hotels and we say Yes! She says no wrong area. An half hour later one of the "girls" making the beds rattles off a few hotel names and finally someone suggests Vienna Woods. We dance for joy-off to shop. Cork city is cold, nothing is open on Sunday so we walk, window shop and visit several churches, St. Anns, Holy Trinity, the Queens fort and finally St. Finnbarrs church of Ireland-phew! One the way back Patricia spies this little craft shop down the alley by the quay and guess what-it 's open. We are chatting amiably making the purchase of socks and a hat when I remember the money (90L) I put under the phone back at the hotel. We power walk the mile or so back to the car and drive to the hotel. Embarrassed I walk in and announced we've returned. Briefly I explain my panic and the lady says "should still be there-go on up the rooms open". I trip on the stairs in my urgency. The money is still there. We head off to check into the Vienna Woods hotel which is not that easy coming from Cork but a swift trip into Glenmire and back lines us up with the drive. At the top overlooking the river Lee is a tree surrounded mansion built in the late 1700's. Our room is big and with gorgeous views-a round room on the top floor-the best in the house according to Rachel Walsh who proclaims her non-Irishness. We don't spend much time as we want to finish our walk and now find something to eat. Halpins serves a good fare. The little opening on the street has a series of back rooms and there is lots of people eating-usually a good sign. Patricia has chicken curly (a real Irish dish) and I have sirloin-chewy. The waitress says O'Flahertys will have music at 9 or 1/2 9. An hour of dining and we seek O'Flahertys. The Rambling Weavers are good but the crowd is big. A couple from Dublin invites us to share a small table. We are an island of older people in a sea of youth. Finally the energy level is exhausting and we seek calmer ground. Parnell's next door is full of older people fewer but quieter-no do not go gentle into the night-struggle against the fading light. Another bar full of young people listening to Elvis. The young couple just inside the door beckons us to enter. Inside we are standing next to a young man singing with Elvis. The song finishes and he informs us that "the song is 30 years old". Back out into the cold night air we try our luck at phoning Jennifer and Patrick-great luck! Back to the Woods for a little tele' and lots of sleep.
November 1st, Holloween happened and we saw only a few tricksters but Patrick said he had to go out and get more candy haven eaten the first bag-uh huh? We are up-have eaten the Irish traditional feast with two puddings and now are showering with our attack on Cork planned! We've got downtown Cork figured out pretty well. Run in west along the dual carriage way and then left across the bridge, right along by Dunnes department store and then left on Patrick street or any of the next few including Washington, or turn right across Bridge street and around to MacCurtain by the Metropole Hotel, the old book store and around again. This time turning left on Washington and down a lane to the Grand Parade where the Grand Parade hotel was strung with banners but otherwise looked worn with summer wear. We hiked from one end of the shopping area to the other. The foot traffic was heavy. Someone threw a smoke bomb in the jewelry store that shocked us at the brazenness. At the meat market the fish and meat were laid out all different cuts and pieces. The smell was strong much like the smells of the farm, some foul and others less offensive. We wandered over to Paul street but Patricia's craft shop destination was closed for counting. The book store I'd been late for the previous trip had no Robert Gibbings and actually not much that interested me. Our spree took a time out at Felini's an Italian coffee house near Philip lane. We had been upstairs and down seeking the perfect something. The crafts of Ireland are found everywhere. The poor Irish have to wade through the tourist trinkets to get the real items. Not so in the food stores. They are pretty modern particularly the Sav Stores. The little family owned affairs are quite small. In a village you might ask for something and be told to shop at "Murphy's" since they carry it. Each shop seems to know what might be found at their competitors. They will avoid some stores and when you ask they turn up their nose something like "I wouldn't have any idea what they have in that store there, but if you asked me and you did, I'd be telling you to try the one around the corner at the bottom of the street" all in a rapid high pitched sing song or a now "hoo-berdo" Scandinavian accent.
Sometimes I think the game is to try to lose the car. It was late and a few drops or rain fell as we encountered our car on Plunkett Street. Even though we'd bought two parking permit "disc" they gave us a ticket. There are so many illegally parked cars everywhere you go it didn't seem possible. Oh well, I hope we kept it as a souvenir. We decide to go to Jury's Hotel for dinner and the antique fair opened by the Grand Mayor of Cork. The dinner was edible and the fair minimal. These things are probably not fully developed since everything here is "antique". In fact talking with a few people about furnishings led me to conclude that "antiques" were not universally accepted as a wonderful solution. Patricia turned down a fine silver and markesite bracelet for 35L and we headed home.We stopped at O'Flarhertys but it was quiet. Back at Virenna Woods we sipped our Guinness and listened to the ramblings of several people from Australia one of them telling of how crockodiles go into the sea and how some villagers were mad because they had to kill a big one due to the fact a man they told not to swim there was eaten. They liked the old croc. To bed.
November 2nd brought more drizzley grey. After the usual second B of the B&B we stuffed our bags. We had purchased two new ones. Our goal was to find the Good Sheppards Convent and buy some linen hand worked by the nuns. A lady jewelry store owner had told us about the place when we were talking with her about real Irish stuff versus the Asian manufacturing. After five peoples directions half of who were bogus one lady said if we'd give her a ride we'd be closer to it when she had to get out. She was on her way to St. Marys along the southern quay. A whole new part of the city opened up to us with very nice houses set up on the side of the hill. After talking with a green coated young man on a bike and the butcher he recommended we turned up this long drive that led to a two block red brick building at least 4 stories high. A priest said he'd check, a maid said she thought it was at the end of the building on the left. We took the car! At the door a lady with white hair and a blue house coat, and a few more 1/2 inch white hairs on her chin. Try around to the left. Hmmmmm, I thought we were on the left. Around the corner on the left set back was another door. As we rounded the corner Miss Gray hairs came running after us. " You're going to see the nun's linen?" "Yes!?" I replied-"Oh" and she turned and scooted back to her big building. The little room off to the left of us was old. It looked unused-in a long time. The first nun told us to wait, the second nun let us in while she searched for the head/leader. I don't know her title but her name was Sister Margaret Fitztgerald. Bespectacled 65 more or less she wondered aloud about the difference between Patricia and I the "lay " people and those that answered the calling. It was a poignant moment. She said that the convent was to be sold. They took care of the old people nobody wanted. She sold us Kitty Butlers work who would no longer be able to make them due to her failing sight. Our discussion opened many thoughts that need more space. At the linen shop in Cork where we bought two pillowcases Patricia told the shopkeeper that someone was going to make cloth out of gorse-a sharp sticker plant that can do serious damage to an errant hiker. She said the Germans had made clothes during the war made from the fibers. This became a favorite story for me to repeat.
We found the manor with no difficulty even though our directions were skimpy-12 miles from Shannon and very near Quin. Passing the airport brought the realization that the trip was soon. It is good that we got a pass by to warm up to the idea. Following the sign we passed by the hugh Castle Clare Hotel. Three miles later, just passed Ballyhanon Horse Farm we turned down a golden tree lined drive over the stream and passed the blazing green grass set up for chip and putt up to the peach colored two story manor of Barry Conroy who spent several years in Toronto and New York. We sat in the bar area and talked of the Germans coming in for a shoot, a hunt later in the year. Only scent was allowed-but if they (the dogs) catch a real scent off they go. Barry's eyes glassed over momentarily. The manor was pleasant if a bit worn. The fire place was filled with dry twigs and in minutes it glowed brightly with dancing yellow and red tongues of fire. We drank warmed whiskey with lemon and cloves and optionally sugar. Another couple came out for sandwiches and tea. They talked a bit but were more interested in trading bits of gossip with Barry. They were a bit uppity but congenial and we traded bits for a while. She pooh-poohed Johnny Moriarty's great brack and I gave her something to think about. The truth as I know it. Two millionaires had flown in to get their Christmas supply from Johnny. They said they would ice them down later for the flight back to New York. It phased her only momentarily. We took her advice on restaurants in Ennis and left for Moringovans. I forgot that asking an Irishman to recommend a restaurant is asking a lot. Moungovans turned out to be good. They escorted us into the pub by the fire and low tables. When I asked if this was the restaurant-they said no I could eat in the back by myself and they had a different menu for that. After comparing the menus we ate in the pub. Patricia had mussels again and I had a T bone. Not great but not bad. It was cold out and we walked a long way from where we parked. It wasn't necessary as it turned out and the walk back was even colder. Lots of people were out even though most of the little shops were closed. It was about 8:30 when we started for the car. We heard the Cruises pub was going to have traditional music from the bar maid. They were trying to impress the folks with traditional 7 nights a week. As our last night we had to go. The band turned out to be a banjo, flute and drum or manocella. They were OK but again they don't start until 1/2 9 - 1/4 10. The crowd grew gradually and sooooon an American couple from Boston joined us. Conversation ensued and since we really just came for the music we decided to leave our neophyte travelers and head back to the manor. The grey crane was no longer perched beneath the bridge. Winding our way down the lane two cars had to pass at 11 p.m. I think I understand but I don't believe it. The manor was dark except for a glow in the parlor. It was beginning to rain lightly and all I could think of is Barry felt we weren't coming back. After two rings the light came on and Barry bless his heart opened the door with a smile. We took everything up for the packing job in the morning. That night there were noises from below. Ghost noises. Patricia said it was Barry. I checked the door and went back to sleep.
November 3rd morning came early as Philomena rang us early on a tiny yellow "toy-looking" phone 15 minutes before the time I'd asked for the night before. In a good sport attitude we got up and got ready for another F.I.B. or T.I.B. (Full Irish Breakfast or Traditional Irish Breakfast). Believe it or not we finally figured out that you could ask them to hold the fried tomato. Pat selected a seat to the side with two windows. I considered the one at the front but opted to go with Pat's suggestion. We had just sat down when Philomena appeared and said I've got this set up for you just now pointing to the one in the front. "We're going to sit here", I said firmly. But she said this is all made up for you. "Well, we prefer to sit here". "Well as you wish but this ones made up for dinner-I'll just change it, it won't take long-lets see you don't need this spoon-and here is that OK now". I started to say that I didn't know or care about the difference between the settings for breakfast or dinner but I didn't. I said this is fine-the other window looked out on asphalt -unappetizing. I paid $100 for the night and breakfast and with nobody else a paying guest I felt I should be allowed to sit where I wanted. I realized about then that it wasn't wise to mess with the cooks disposition. They could add anything to your food and really mess with all of oneself. That did it. The egg tasted funny and the bacon looked suspicious. A half dozen different types of birds flitted outside the window and my mood improved.
The after breakfast task was to put everything into the suitcases. An hour of re-stuffing and rearranging finally produced some results. Fifteen minutes later we finished. Philomena was happy to take the sucre brown granulated as well as the rubbish which were mostly plastic bags.
Car loaded we headed back down the lane toward Quin, then to Castleclare and finally the main road to Shannon. It is a good thing we didn't delay. I'd forgotten all the little tasks like where to return the car, immigration, X-ray, questions and concerns of the Irish security. We just made it as boarding was already underway. I did manage to buy some duty free Glenfidditch and some Bushmills single malt. A good trip-now the bumpy ride home and coffee, snacks and whatever-finish.
The map of our trip is a figure 8. Starting at the Shannon airport we headed for shelter at Ennistymon, our base for several days. From here we visited Grotto and Ballinasloe and other towns in the area. We next traveled along the coast and around Galway Bay to Galway. After a few days we headed for Birr and then on to Carlow. From there we descended the middle of Ireland until we arrived on one of the fingers that reach into the Atlantic Ocean at a place called Adrigole. From Adrigole we traveled to Glengarrif, Ballydehob, Skibbereen and towns nearby. A week we went up and over Cougan Beara to Kilgarvan and repeated our little side trips to places like Kenmare, Mallow and Millstreet. Our next destination was Cork and it's surroundings. Finally we headed straight for Quinn for the night and the next day completed the return to Shannon.
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