This was our last full day in Ireland before we spend tomorrow morning in some last-minute souvenir shopping and head off to London. SNG and I took the Connemara tour that the grandmothers took yesterday. We had the same tour guide, Joe, who usually works for Lally tours doing school runs and ferry shuttle. He told us that he had been getting his bearings as a proper tour guide, but I thought he was fantastic. He remembered our moms ("They were darling! Was your mum the little one? She's a lady who's full o' beans, that one. Very fit and energetic. I loved them both, the dears.") and had that classic self-deprecating humor that you can't help but like.
I took some notes along the way, so this post will be more disjointed than most because I'm pretty much putting those notes here for posterity.
We drove through mountains which I remembered, from some book I once read, that people used to have all sorts of odd theories about how the large granite rocks had moved and how the terrain became so bare. The strangest theory was that they had floated there in a huge flood, a la Noah and the Ark. Then someone realized that it was actually a (relatively recent) ice age that had caused about a mile-thick glacier to form there, and as the ice receded, it pushed along the landscape relocating boulders and scraping away the landscape leaving an environment suited only to growing peat. The peat has been forming there for about 12,000 years, at a rate of about a foot of thickness per millennium. 80% of the world's peat comes from Ireland as it happens, although Connemara peat is not as thick as the peat further inland.
As we drove along, a couple in a silver sedan kept showing up nearby, always on the wrong side of the road. The driver joked that they were either American or French (all the passengers on the tour were American or French). I just wondered how they could end up on the wrong side of the road so often. Had they not noticed the other cars?
Our first stop was at the Quiet Man Bridge, where I got some pictures for the Lands End saleslady at the mall in Cary, who once quoted about 1/3 of the film to me as I tried stuff on. She really loves that film. And there were the elderly couple in the silver sedan. American accents.
The next stop was at a pub in Leenane. We met a pair of older than dirt dirt farmers with 3 teeth between them who were curious about us and spoke unintelligably but were unmistakably flirting with all the women from the tour. We also met the older couple in the silver sedan. They were on vacation from Oregon, and were just the most adorable, sweet people ever. I told them that Joe was talking smack about them, and Joe was delighted to learn the expression "talking smack." The dirt farmers were definitely putting the moves on the old lady from Oregon. Her husband was a longboard surfer from SoCal in his younger days, which raised his status to totally cool in our estimation. Everyone on the tour decided they were a-OK, even if they didn't drive too well.
Next stop was at the fjord, where we saw blue mussel nets being anchored by cement-filled DeLoreans and a fairy tree (or wishing tree) grew along the bank. It was tied with scraps of children's clothes and tiny shoes, each a wish for a child's health.
We spent most of our time at Kylemore Abbey, which wasn't a lot to write home about except that it is set in such a gorgeous setting. We decided to hike instead of visit the abbey, and frolicked with adorable black-faced and black-legged hairy clouds of sheep before I got ankle-deep in the bog and we decided to stick to the roads after that.
We had such a good time. This vacation has been long, but I could stay in Galway another week and still find things to do. This group of traveling companions have been perfect, and I hope the kids made some good memories. The last night here, our neighbors to the left seem to be having a bachelor party and to the right a hen party (or an all-girl birthday party?). Bad techno music blasting through all the walls. I hope it won't get me down, because I have felt so good this entire trip that I'd hate to have it all ruined by rude neighbors.
Tomorrow we fly to London, and then Sunday we fly home. But I'm not done with you, Ireland. Not by a long shot.