Friday, July 28, 2017

island time Ireland style

So on the last day of the trip the morning brought Irish weather rain and limited visibility.  We were scheduled to take a ferry to the closest of the Aran Islands and because the weather and the seas were quite iffy they gave us other options but we raised our hand for the island because no matter what I would rather be on the water - so I was gong for that choice even if it was only me and the guide Hugh who was also determined to go.

however, as it turned out - everyone ultimately picked the island and off we all went to the dock and across the water.  and no- the photos below are not of our shipwreck- LOL - they are of another shipwreck - we arrived safe and sound and the weather improved as the day went on- 

We started with a haywagon tour of the three sights on the island LOL - the ship wreck and the lighthouse and the cemetery - 

we huddled into a pub for some lunch and songs from Johnsmith and our group member Anthony Milan...

there is air service and a landing strip on the island

a shipping container serves as the local "chipper" fish and chips stand-

horse and buggy as well as bikes are transportation options for tourists wanting to explore the island

jelly fish in the harbor's clear water

by the time we leave the island (shown below as the boat headed away) the weather had turned clear and lovely -

we made a pass by the Cliffs from the sea but i actually think the views were too far away to really get the scale of the cliffs - maybe with a telephoto lens but not with my camera and a moving boat...

so we gathered for a last meal together and then returned to the meeting room at Fitz's to do a farewell "go-around" and share thoughts about the trip  

the light stayed with us until late in the evening the whole trip and so there were some lovely shots on the way to dinner as we saw our last evening -  for this trip - in Ireland

a very nice trip which was made even better by the terrific hosts Johnsmith and his wife Jo, guide Hugh and driver Fionan... shown below in a photo by Tim Brockish

and I will leave you with a Johnsmith lyric from the tune that everyone who takes an Inishfree tour takes to heart- it is called Safe Home  and this lyric is inscribed in the Dingle pub of Tommy O'Sullivan with sentiments written by many of the musician leaders of the Inishfree Tours that Johnsmith founded with his pub owner partner and dear friend (passed away) and then he and Jo took on the responsibilities and now Hugh is stepping into the ownership role with a partner as they buy out John and Jo... best wishes to them all - may they continue to have success in all they do.

so this concludes the story of our trip to Ireland and Phil is already set on going back in 2019 (with a year off for daughter Angela's wedding in June 2018) - so let him know if you want to join in the fun... Oh I lied- one more photo from Tim Brockish which is a good sign off-

moving north to Doolin

on the road again - this time north toward the Shannon River where we would board a ferry to take across to the next stop on the trip for three final nights in Doolin. 

above a "Tidy Town" where we stopped for coffee and bathroom break- then we were on to the ferry

the view as the bus left the ferry and headed up into the hills overlooking the Shannon River-

Our lunch stop is Milltown Malbay - a renown music capital where there is a festival every year in honor of Willie Clancy, the most famous Uilleann Pipe player in Ireland (statue shown below) - We had a lunch much better than you could find in a town that size in the U.S. and then time on our own to explore town and listen to music in pubs that line the main street (only street? LOL)

every town has a store where you can buy instruments!

and at least one pub where the musicians just stop in to play pretty much any time - this was a Sunday so the afternoon was open for most folks - and they had quite the session going on at Lynch's as we arrived in town...

after we arrived in Doolin we met a pub for dinner and music including a guy named Blackie on the pipes and another guy who showed up at 10:30 PM to play with Blackie - apparently the wedding he came from ran long or something LOL

the next morning we were out and about and got to the Cliffs of Moher early so no crowds Yea!

the symbol on the monolith below was that used for the "Wild Atlantic Way" which has come into use since 1997 when my mother and i explored the west coast of Ireland on our own and without the exponential growth in tourism that this marketing campaign has brought to this area of Ireland- a boon to small villages that were losing population and jobs - so overall a positive thing for them I think - although to my mind a tad fewer people touring was a better thing- 

next a drive into The Burren and the sights there-

including a sheep dog demo - always a fun thing (my third after Patagonia and New Zealand south island)

the 21 year old retired queen of the pack...

that night after a very scenic drive back to Doolin we headed to the best meal of the trip for us- at Cullinan's

Then we went across the street to "Fitz's" pub to the meeting room upstairs where we had a concert just for us by Luka Bloom a terrific entertainer who watched the entire group to gauge the interaction and when he found us a receptive audience just kept on going ..... photo from the Internet-

The final day was spent on an island... no I know we were already on an island but this was an island off the island- so more - one more post on the trip.... to follow