Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Ireland Trip, days 5 and 6: Galway and Aran Islands

We missed the ferry to the Aran Islands on Monday, so instead we spent the day shopping (shucky-darn). There is a pedestrian quarter near Eyre Square that has about lots of little shops and boutiques; some are tchotchkes and souvenirs, but there are also music stores, art shops, sweater shops (we are in the land of cableknit wool sweaters), cafes, bakeries, shoe stores, you get the idea. We also had our first pub lunch at a place that had little living areas straight from the early 70s instead of regular seating. We sat in a nook with a couple of couches and overstuffed armchairs, a big coffee table, and canonical vintage mustard, harvest orange, and avocado colored flowery wallpaper. The food was good, Granny had a pint of Southwick ale, and it was hard to leave when we were finished. Then we took a leisurely walk along the canals and shore of the bay to the town of Salt Hill for some tea. We fed about 30 swans on the way back. I have pictures- it was madness.

Dinner was a low-key broccoli and sirloin steaks.

Tuesday, we got up extra early so we could catch the ferry to the Inis Mor, the largest of the Aran Islands and the very place that the opening sequence from the show Father Ted was flimed. The series' location, fictitious Craggy Island, was apparently based on a conglomeration of the three Aran Islands. And let me tell you-- the flyover scenes opening Father Ted? It looks Exactly Like That in person. There are over 7000 miles of stone fences (hand-built walls). People have lived on the island for literally thousands of years, and there is a ring fort dating back over 3000 years. There are actually 4 fort ruins, but I on;y walked around one of them. There is no handrail at the edge of the sheer cliff that drops hundreds of meters to the water below. It's windy up there. I am so glad e-baby stayed behind at the visitor center for that part of the visit.

We saw the world's smallest church from a distance-- it's on a hilltop an hour's walk from the road-- it is only 6 feet wide. That was nifty. Many of the houses still have thatched rooves. Our tour guide, Patrick Flaherty (one of probably 50 Patrick Flaherties on the islandof only 800 people) can count his family back seven generations on Inis Mor. Most people there go back at least as far.

The islands are also the origin of those cableknit fisherman's sweaters, usually cream-colored with such intricate hand-knit patterns-- you've seen them. As you might guess, we spent the better part of an hour in the large sweater shop and musuem. The store had a special for UPS Worldwide shipping flat-rate of 25 Euros-- any amount. Hee!

In other news, I've had vertigo since we arrived in Ireland and it's getting worse- now I'm just plain dizzy and seasick most of the time. I'm more than a little sick of it and hope that it goes away now that I have some dramamine-equivalent.

In other, other news-- How on earth have we managed to be in Ireland in winter for 6 days and never been rained out???? Charmed lives???? (Knock on wood)

Today we head for Dublin. More later!!

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