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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Oh IRELAND--Post the Secundus

May 3, 2016
Driving Mom nuts at the Cliffs of Moher (Lisa's other last name)
We hopped aboard the tugboat Murt after a wonderful Irish breakfast of runny egg, blood pudding and white pudding, mild sausage, baked tomatoes, and potatoes, along with fabulous scones with yummy Irish butter and blackberry preserve. I ate everything but the blood pudding. White pudding turned out to be sausage with oatmeal in it. Not my fave, but it wasn't barf-inducing.

We drove that day through the Burren, a strange, lunar-like landscape of karst limestone probably jam crammed with caves. Each farm had to be carved out of that rock and the land built from scratch. They use the peat from the valley bogs to heat and cook on.

Not as easy as it looks--the wind nearly blew my flute bag off the cliff--which is right there.
Ju and I at the Cliffs
At last we came to the Cliffs of Moher. Luckily for us there wasn't much wind or rain. We girls went off along the cliffs far from any of the others, taking pictures by hanging way out over the cliff. Mom ended up stopping both because her foot ached, and because she couldn't watch us hanging out there and climbing around like goats. 

The other sisters headed to the bus, but Ju and I went back the other way and saw the plaque about those who had fallen to their deaths there. The views were breathtaking and lovely. There were a bazillion people there, all speaking every language you can think of. I talked to Germans and some Americans.
Driving Mom insane

We stopped at a roadblock, but because Murt knows all kinds of people there, he sweet talked our way through instead of having to turn and go clear back around. We would have been too late for tea.

High tea at Dromoland Castle--Scrumpy scones!!!
We headed to Dromoland Castle for High Tea. It was a beautiful late period castle. I guess it used to be Brian Boru's seat, but that castle burned down and they rebuilt it later after it didn't need to be defensive, with huge windows. The castle was GORGEOUS and the tea lovely. There were several kinds of sandwiches (I tried watercress, which was okay but a bit weedy.) and, better, several kinds of cakes. All very posh and pinky out sort of thing. It felt odd not wearing a skirt to it, but I wasn't about to tromp around the Cliffs of Moher in a skirt.

Afterwards they let us loose to explore the castle and grounds. Lovely knot gardens and fountains. A beautiful spot for a reception.

Dromoland Castle
Lisa and I went up the stairs they told us not to and found ourselves in the servant's quarters. We heard someone else coming up and got caught red-handed. But the lady said nothing, just went into one of the rooms. So we went up the next flight of very tiny cramped stairs. Turns out after a few turns it dead-ended in a tiny Alice in Wonderland type door with a sign that mentioned cell tower stuff. It was locked, so we took pics and went back down.

That night we stayed in Ennis. For the most part, the place was empty of entertainment. We talked to a guy we met and he said that because of the building crash, half the town was unemployed. He thought it silly that they didn't attract more tourists with music and/or shows. Anyway, we finally found a place called Broghans in which to eat. Oh my gosh that was some FABULOUS hake and mash (mashed potato, yam, and I think parsnip—who knew?).

Then Mom and Janelle took off to go sleep again, and I, Lisa, and Ju went to find some music. We asked at one place and the girls chatted up the young bartender there named Oisin. He told us about a place and we headed off. But I remembered that I had that huge, bulky sweatshirt and hat taking up room in my suitcase. I wasn't about to drag that stuff home, so I went back and asked him if he'd like to trade sports shirts. He agreed to meet us the next night.

So then we went off to the new place. When we got there, the band was jamming. They were pretty good and I felt weird asking to jam with them, so I wasn't going to do it. We got talking with a guy named Chris (maybe) and his nephew who were from Ireland originally but had moved to the States and were back for a funeral. They come back every year maybe four times. They were really nice and kept buying us sodas. They made me play my whistle. Next time I have to practice a whole lot more before I go. Anyway it was really fun.

May 4, 2016

I got things messed up in my journal book since I spent most of the day listening to Murt and not writing, and most of the nights hunting great music. I got behind and didn't remember things in the right order. Now it's working better, because I have the itinerary and all the maps I got, along with my journal and a few pictures (mostly Ju's....wah).

Tammy and the boys at poul na brouin (or however the heck you spell it)
Anywho, we struck off from Ennis, our home base for two days, and went back to the Burren for another jaunt. This time we went to see Poul na Broin, a passage tomb out on the windswept burren. Going up to it, the rocks look like strange puzzle pieces, with deep, grass-filled cuts between the rocks. The land had all subsided away from the dolmen, leaving it starkly jutting from the open landscape. 

The Burren
Yup. Karst. I made sure from the ranger. I told him I bet there were huge caves under there, and he asked how I knew. “It's all karst isn't it?” He was impressed. Yup, big caves. But the opening was in the next village (I believe we saw a sign for it the day before). Let me tell you, it was an eery feeling, especially since I'd just read a dreadful book about these people who fall down a giant pot hole in a place like that and never got to get out. I wasn't too wigged out about it, but just the thought...shudder. Anyway, the dolman itself was kind of cool. But it wasn't until later that I really thought about how ancient that place was. To have all the dirt gone that had formed the actual tomb? Wow. It must have been someone of some importance too.

Lemaneagh Castle
That day we also saw Lemaneagh Tor, possibly the castle I might want to write FORLORN HOPE about. Unfortunately, I could get zero information on it or any of the castles we visited, beyond the tour they give everybody and maybe a book you'd buy in the bookstore. I took pics of Lemaneagh, though. 

And I kept answering Murt's questions about that time period, so he told me I should go up there and take the mike and do the tour myself. I didn't know what to think. He either disliked me heartily or he was serious. I shut up after that for the most part.

We went back to Ennis and got ready for Bunratty, I in my red velvet gown and veil and circlet, and everyone else in the regular stuff. Boy did I get some smirks from the guys. I'm sure I looked stupid, but I did it for a reason. I wanted to know how it really felt to climb around in that castle in a long gown. So now I know. It sucked. 

The gown wasn't bad. But the veil kept coming off because the circlet wasn't strong enough to hold it in place. I ended up having to tie it on. Probably they would have pinned theirs to their wimple. Anywho, we climbed around in the castle, trying to see every part of it. Again I got separated from everybody, but I did jiggle all kinds of locked doors. (Yes, Mom, that alarm was me trying to go where no one else had.)

Yeah I see that look. I pulled my veil off because it kept falling off.
There was a little village too. Mostly it was all different time periods and not horrendously interesting in any but a touristy way. I bought my sweatshirt there in the gift shop, just as it was closing for the day. I forewent the meet-up at the bus and just sprinted for the front door, where a queue of revelers were climbing the steps to enter the hold. 

There was a piper there, and the servants were all dressed to the nines. They of course eyed me funny, as did all the people on our bus. I'm sure they thought me quite batty. Whatever. I tried not to let their opinions get in the way. 
Looking up at the stairs above

What I WAS able to do is offer Patty Attenasio, the tour owner, my extra veil to wear under her crown. They made her and her cowboy husband King and Queen for the evening. Because I was in costume (the only one, thank you Lisa and Mom for bailing on that endeavor) I got to be the maid of honor and hand things to the Queen.

We drank a toast to their health (we Kleinmans with soda) and then sat down to a feast of lamb stew with bread, all of which we ate with knives and our hands. The King got to approve all the removes and we feasted heartily. I did not drink out of the finger bowl as my mom once did. Yeah! 

The servants were also our entertainers, singing and storytelling and joking. Unfortunately there were no jugglers or acrobats. But there were a couple of boys brought to the King on charges of “bothering” the women. They got tossed in the dungeon and told to moan a great deal. Upon being sprung, they were forced to sing a song (Take Me Out To The Ball Game).

All too soon the night ended and we boarded the coach. I got to the hotel and went right in and changed out of my hot gown and annoying veil and we girls went out on the town. 
Pub crawling in Broghans (Great hake!!!) --Ju must be in the loo

At first we went to Brogans and Lisa tried their lamb stew, but it wasn't nearly as good as my stew in Gallway had been. We jammed there and they invited me into their circle and had me play a solo, but the girls wanted to leave and go to O'Connal's to meet Oisin. 

I took my sweatshirt and new ball cap and a Frisbee and Lisa took her $70 Diamondbacks jersey. Of course Oisin wanted the jersey. He traded her what turned out to be like his middle school PE shirt. I gave his friend my Frisbee (they had no idea what it was.) I was bummed because it looked like I'd have to go home not having traded anything. Lisa was a little bummed because she only got a PE shirt. But at least most people in the States wouldn't know that's what it was. It still had the Carraigh (Kerry) emblem on it. 

I was really goal-oriented and it was already evident that we probably wouldn't be going swimming in the sea. (I could have gone in the hotel pool but it wasn't the same at all. I wanted to do Irish things.) We hung out and listened to a little music and went to the room.

Me at the rag tree

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