Tuesday, 19 April 2011

April 14, 2011

If you ever go across the sea to Ireland,
Then maybe at the closin' of your day
You will sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay.

Or how 'bout this one:

Well, I took a stroll on the old Long Walk 
 Of a day -I-ay-I-ay 
 I met a little girl and we stopped to talk 
 Of a fine soft day -I-ay-I-ay 
 And I ask you, friend, what's a fella to do 
 'Cause her hair was black and her eyes were blue 
 And I knew right then I'd be takin' a whirl 
 'Round the Salthill Prom with a Galway girl 

Hey, guess where I am right now?  Galway... I much prefer this city to Dublin.  It has a more relaxed pace and small-town atmosphere even though it is overrun with international tourists and businesses.  The "old Long Walk" that Steve Earle refers to in Galway Girl is the pier in town, which is the longest on the island.  People would walk the length of it and then kick the end of the wall on the pier for good luck - a few tourmates and I gave this a whirl last evening when we rolled into town, just to see if it was song worthy.  We also went to a pub off the Salthill Prom to listen to some Trad Music after dinner... Mr. Earle was definitely onto something.

Yesterday was a rainy, rainy day.  Moreso than the usual "liquid sunshine" that periodically graces our bus windows, but rather it was a cold, hard rain.  Real, storied Irish weather.  Our first stop of the day was to Poulnabrone Portal Tomb in the Burren, a rocky, creviced area of the country known to be overrun with fairies and leprechauns.  

We made a pit stop to a local pub to wait out the rain and hopefully allow some of the fog to lift, and then it was off to the Cliffs of Moher.  These Cliffs are amazing, breathtaking, beautiful, stunning, and altogether inspiring.  Although there was some fog to work through, it just added to the eerie awesomeness of these incredible cliffs rising 214m out of the raging Atlantic.  Following our visit to the Cliffs, we carried on through the Burren, and into Galway, including a view of Galway Bay.  

Today our Shamrocker tour group took public transit followed by a ferry over to Inis Mor (Aran Islands), for a day of exploring the island.  There are bike rentals available, or visitors can hire a horse and cart tour, or a seat on a tour bus.  One of my roommates and I decided we would explore the island on foot.  Aran Island is filled with rock fences dividing the landscape up into tiny little paddocks.  There are almost no trees, only thousands and thousands of miles of rock fence, hundreds of years old.  There is a seal colony which calls the island home, an interesting lighthouse, and Dun Aonghasa, a 3000 year old fortress built on the edge of a 300-foot cliff.  Aran Island is a Gaeltacht population (Irish speaking), and the locals are either fishermen or cater to we, the spoiled tourists.  The island is also known for the Aran Sweaters - back when the fishery was the only industry on the island, each island family had it's own unique sweater pattern of cables etc. stitched into their woolen sweaters so that individuals could be easily identified to their family... particularly if they fell victim to a shipwreck.  Nice, eh?  The island is beautiful, the weather was perfect, and it was excellent to have a day full of physical activity.  Our entire group is pooched tonight after playing hard all day on Inis Mor.

Boys I ain't never seen nothin' like a Galway girl.

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