The Portnoo Seafood festival, traffic jams and the priest
As we checked into the Nesbitt Hotel in Ardara (pronounced ard draw) a flyer caught our eye. There was a seafood festival a few miles away in the little village of Portnoo. There was plenty of time to slip over to Portnoo have a few seafood delicacies and be back in time to return to Inver for the music festival and dinner. We were hoping to meet Mary and Joe Campbell for dinner but that is another story.
We dumped our bags in the room which was super clean, not at all sleepy and a bit warn as we remembered it. Turned out they had just completed an extensive renovation and basically everything was brand new. Within minutes we were on our way to Portnoo. It was a sunny day and the air coming off the Atlantic was fresh and invigorating.
A few miles out of Portnoo we came to a stop. The traffic was not moving and there was no place to turn around. Within minutes the number of cars behind us was nearly equal to the number in front of us. Apparently the weather induced half the people in Donegal to attend the seafood festival. We inched along for about two miles. Soon the cars leaving the village were as many as were entering and just as backed up. It was difficult to understand how the cars going out of town were backed up but the line disappeared around the corner and there was no way to tell what had happened. At one point the car sitting next to us going the other way was being driven by a priest. I noticed the car first. It was an older Jaguar, well kept with nice lines. Then I noticed father. I rolled down my window and motioned for him to roll down his. We had been sitting for about 5 minutes. He rolled his window down by pushing a button. I said, ďFather, you must have a little prayer you can say to reduce this congestion?Ē No nod, no comment, only the slight movement required to push the window button. I continued to look pleadingly as the window closed. The priest was no longer looking my way. Perhaps he was praying and it must have worked as we suddenly began to move a few feet at a time, but at least it was movement. A parking place was suddenly open on the left and we could see the village and the distance was walk able so we parked. That priest must have had a direct line.
We walked peeking into several establishments where the music was live and loud, none of it traditional Irish. The festival was lively and crowded but we finally found where the seafood was being served one small bowl at a time. It was plopped down on one of three wood picnic tables in an outdoor area. Unfortunately all three tables were occupied by a biker club similar to the Hellís Angels at least in their attire and attitude. As soon as a bowl was placed on the table the contents disappeared. Reaching for a piece would have been dangerous with this crowd and since they were all sitting around the table it would have appeared as bad manners. Anyway we judged it just wasnít worth it.
We did go inside to try to put in an order but the kitchen was a mess and the ordering process was chaotic. It seemed like a nice little village and on a normal day would have been lovely but this day was not a normal day. The place was overrun with people beyond belief. We should have been there much earlier in the day. It wasnít long before we felt our best bet was to leave and go back to Ardara and find something to eat. However everyone else had decided to leave as well as the sun was descending quickly and within an hour or so it would be dark. Leaving back the way we came was out of the question as that direction was still stopped. There must have been an accident. Asking around the alternate route was the other direction through Rosbeg, a bit dicey after dark but fortunately it was not dark yet.
We headed through town and out the other side. There was a nice pastoral stretch and then the road climbed to the top of a hill. A woman with a hat was walking in the road and basically jumped in front of my car asking for a ride to the top of the hill. She explained that she was late for choir practice and she had the key to the church. Sure enough the entire choir was waiting and they were happy to see their leader.
The road through Rosbeg was treacherous even by Irish standards. The curves and rises were blind and we saw four cars that didnít make the corners plunged off the roads and into the underbrush and they all looked recent.
We didnít make it back to the Nesbitt Hotel until after dark and we were exhausted. We missed our opportunity to listen in to the music festival at Inver. We didnít know it then but we also missed something else but that is another story.
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