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Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Oh IRELAND!--Installment the third


Installment the third

May 5, 2016
The next morning we got up bright and early and lugged our bags out so we could catch the ferry over the River Shannon early. I climbed over the rocks while we waited for the boat to come. They were mucky and slick and I nearly fell several times. I was REALLY glad for those boots. I found a limpet and a little snail—gave that to Mom. The ferry ride was bracing. I just love the water. I don't know what it is about it, but water calms me and fills me up. I must be part plant or something. Living in the desert makes me all sandy inside.
We saw a guy with a fox and a shaggy little donkey with a dog on its back. That was a paid photo op. They really milked it too.

We did the Dingle Penninsula that day, passing through Tralee and Slea Head and Inch beach. The Blasket Islands sailed just off the coast, blueish hulks full of gannets, from which many of the people moved to Springfield, Massachusetts in large chunks.
I found nowhere that looked like the site for LEAP YEAR. Clearly they took the cliffs from the Cliffs of Moher, but I didn't really see something that looked like the Cairragh pub or the roads leading away from it. I wonder which castle they used also.
On that headland to the right is where they're filming Star Wars
Because this was a region that spoke almost completely Gaelic, they were “Gaeltacht”. I found out that “Failte Isteach” (Felcha Isteeh) means Welcome inside and “Go Mall” means drive slowly. “To let” means to rent. We saw the Three Sisters Islands, one of which was Lindbergh's first land sighting on his crossing of the ocean. I saw a pub called Tig un Muircu, which Murt said was Murphy's pub.
We ate lunch in Dingle at a little fish and chips place. The food, again, was fabulous. Love fish n' Chips.
Murt talked of “leaving certs” or graduation exams, and Fungie the Dolphin in Dingle (I think it was). He also said “The Irish will go to the opening of an envelop.” He also said, “In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” He said they say, “Cloudy or bright” instead of cloudy or sunshiny. And he said they call garage sales “car stops.”
I forget it's real name. I call it a cairn house.

We stopped several times to run down the hill and take pictures. It might have been that day that we stopped at a parking lot. Murt told us there would be a little man there who sold wild bee honey. He also sold holy water. That water just happened to be poteen (Potchin) or moonshine, which is illegal to sell. Thus the holy water. If you told him Murt said to ask for holy water, he'd sell you poteen.
I, being uninterested in poteen, went for a hike up the hill. There I found wool snagged in bushes and gathered all I could before Murt dragged us back into the bus. I “carded” all the stickers and trash out of it, lined up the skeins, and sort of finger wove some for Mom and I. Real Irish wool yarn.

How I wanted to go swimming
There were lots of rocky headlands strung together with stony beaches and some sand. The hills were punctuated with sheep and heather and the occasional cow or shaggy donkey. The weather was simply glorious. I understand that it is more often murky with fog and rain squalls. We got so lucky!
Dingle with its Fungie the Dolphin and Charlie Chaplin statue (Chaplin had a home out on the coast that he loved.) was quite charming. I found a linen store in which I hoped to find lace sheers. I really really want a set for our windows. I only found a pretty table runner and lace heart.
A ring fort right out there in the open!
The houses in Ireland are much the same. They sit longways to the road. There are two to four windows evenly spaced on either side of the door. The door is brightly colored and often had a doorknob in the middle of the door. In windy places (like Dingle) they have a board or cement or metal piece which hangs over the shingles on each end of the house to trap the shingles from flying off. I don't remember what Murt called those. Each window would have lace sheers and the house would look impeccable. You don't see rusting cars anywhere. 

The quintessential Irish house
You don't see clutter. It's all neat and clean and well-kept. Often there would be a rocky ruin next to the house, as if that had been where they'd lived for hundreds of years previously.

That evening we drove into Killarney (Cill Airne), Murt's home town. You could really tell how proud he was of it, and of the Caireigh football (soccer) team. We stayed in Killarney Towers on Plunkett street for that night and two others. We K's of course went wandering, looking for good shopping and great music. We ranged all down Main and High street, where we found Murphy's ice cream shop. The girls there were really sweet and gave us tastes of which ever ice cream we wanted.
Night in Killarney
There was a street performer down there who was so with it that he kept up a running patter, teasing the passersby. I asked him to play TELL ME MA, which he did. He was really nice, so I gave him a few Euros. He was absolutely hilarious. When a little boy ran up and gave him money, he said, “I love children. I have a couple of children of my own at home. In the freezer.” That got him a laugh. There were several. When an Italian group came and gave him money, he played an Italian song so well that they were all singing along.
These guys were really GOOD!
I think it was this night that we went across the street to another hotel and saw the show Caelic Roots, a show like Riverdance. There were three girl dancers, one boy dancer, one girl harpist, two guys playing instruments and three girls who sang. The main girl dancer really really looked like a heshe. I'm not the only one who thought that. She had loads of makeup on and a really masculine face. Mom bought their CD and later gave it to me. (It turned out to be some really nice non-Irish songs.) I really enjoyed the show.
Dinner was great that night. I forget what I ate, but all my meals were pretty darn good there. I'm so glad I didn't wuss out and just have burgers. Lisa, Ju, and I ended up at the pub downstairs in the hotel. Every night that place had a different rockin' band. Mom was amazed that I knew most of the music. It was wonderful. Mom ended up going swimming with some of the other women from the tour. I don't know if they actually got to swim though. I know she at least had a jacuzi, because she left the hot water in for me. Thanks, Mom.
May 6, 2016
This was the Ring of Kerry day. It's a 100 mile circle around Iveragh Peninsula which includes Killorglin, Glenbeigh, Cahirciveen or Cahersiveen (pronounced Car sigh bean), Waterville, Caherdaniel, Sneem, Kenmare, and then Killarney, beautiful little towns. Inside that ring is a national forest and the mountain, Carrauntoohil, one of their taller peaks at 1039 meters.

That morning, after a lovely breakfast, we loaded up and traveled past emerald pastures full of fluffy lambs to a Sheep dog demonstration. First the farmer introduced us to his sheep. One of them had four horns. Then he let the sheep go way up to an upper pasture and he introduced his two dogs. He never spoke above a normal house voice. He said if you had to yell at your dog, the dog simply didn't want to listen to you, because the dog can hear for a LONG way. Then he showed us. Each dog had his or her own set of whistles which told the dog where to go and what to do.
 
Sheep dog fun
 Those dogs cut lone sheep from the herd, nudged them down the hill, took them right or left. All kinds of things. At first I thought one of the dogs might be older and needed a rest, because he would lie down while the other dog did everything. But no. He simply hadn't had his set of directions yet. Soon he got them and took off heading the sheep exactly where the farmer wanted them. I half expected to see Babe, the Pig there somewhere.
Where the heck is Babe?
As we traveled through Cahersiveen and Glenbeigh, Murt talked more about the 1916 uprising, because Daniel O'Connell was born there. He said this region was also Gaeltacht or Gaelic-speaking. He said Yeats once wrote, “Now in Ireland a terrible beauty has been born.” I really liked that saying. One of the religious leaders also said, “God has no country” meaning He doesn't take sides. 
Tea with Janelle and Moncai Rua and Patty
 
We stopped at a little B&B in a town whose name escapes me. Murt knows the people there, and arranged for us to have tea there. The scones were piping hot and straight from the oven. We had them with clotted cream and black or raspberry preserves. OUTSTANDINGLY SCRUMPY! The little sandwiches were delicious as well. And I had vanilla tea, very yummy. It turns out that the actress (Katherine someone whose name eludes me right now) who played opposite John Wayne in The Quiet Man often stayed at that B&B. She liked the proprietor so much that she kind of adopted him and would often stay there. They allowed us to go upstairs and see her room. I took a pic with Moncai Rua there.
Scrumpy scone with clotted cream and blackberry preserves
You have to understand that that monkey went everywhere. I had three of them. So one went into many of our pictures, and one was mainly for putting somewhere on a person's clothing in the group. They had to pass it to someone in the group without them knowing. I don't think everyone got it, but I know Cathy, Heathyr, the other Cathy, Lilly, and Frank all got him. I think either Jane or Sharon got him too. Moncai Rua.
Charley Chaplain's house
Anywho, we saw the Skelligs (Little S and S Michael) which are both uninhabited by anything but gannets. We also saw the peninsula where they're filming the next (and the last) Star Wars movies. Apparently that whole peninsula is locked up tight. We saw it and Carl took pics of it with his telephoto lens. We also saw some rocky crannogs (little round houses built out of stones).
Gravestone in Sneem
We went to a little village called Sneem and for some reason, Murt, the flash-past driver let us out for nearly an hour. I had the strongest urge to take pictures of the gravestones there in the church yard. I didn't really have that push anywhere else. I mean there were some cool St Brigid's crosses elsewhere, but in Sneem I really felt inspired to take pics. I tried to get many of them, but there was little time, and lots of the headstones had been scoured smooth by the winds of time. Those pics were some of the few I still have. They may or may not lead to my own treasure trove, but perhaps they'll be the answer to someone else's burning question, which will lead to our people.
I really wish I'd heard more of the lesson that day, because it really interests me about the Uprising. I've long felt Ireland and Scotland should be free of Britain. Unfortunately, the bus lulled me to sleep with its swaying more than once and I'd wake to hear the tempting tail end of another little tidbit. I should have at least jotted down names and dates, and names of the monuments I took pics of. Unfortunately, I didn't. I couldn't pry my eyes open for much of the day. It was that rocking bus.
What I came away with is that the Irish are fiercely patriotic, and Murt is no different, though he says he doesn't agree with some of the IRA's methods and practices. He let us know that the IRA wasn't the only militant faction, or even the worst. There was one that started with a U that was more vicious. Unfortunately, sometimes violence is called for. Look at our war for independence. Look at France's truly horrible little war.
We're everywhere, especially pubs

We came down from the mountains past a string of lakes and stopped at a place called Lady's View to look at the lakes. Lady's View is where Queen Elizabeth 2 and her ladies in waiting once had a picnic overlooking the valley. Thus the name. Then down through the national forest there near Killarney. In one places there was a “Shebeen” or moonshine bar. It was illegal since they sold poteen there, so people had to be very careful going there, especially since the fine for “drink driving” is extremely stiff and you lose your license for years.

That night we K's hiked all over town, taking pictures in a pair of giant hands, and all kinds of other places. Carl came with us. We saw the guys at one place but didn't stay long. Mom celebrated her birthday with ice cream, a lovely meal, and a free CD from the band playing that night in the hotel pub. It was so fun going all over with her. She had an umbrella and kept losing it places. I'd find it and give it back to her. Then she lost it and I couldn't find it. The lovely and oh so kind woman at the woolen store said, “Ah no worries. Here.” And she caught up a new umbrella, tore off the tags, and gave it to me. I told her if I found it, I'd bring that one back, but she declined. “It's a gift,” she said. Mom was thrilled to have a new one. Later she found hers in her back pack. Mom was a real trooper, although I'm sure her ankle really hurt. I made sure to massage her foot several times and she took nice hot baths also.

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