For the last day or so L and hot cross bun have been practising rally car driving, twisting and turning around hedged bends, and dodging tourist buses, cement trucks and tractors on the tiny roads that thread across Ireland’s green like a spiderweb. Unbelievably the speed limit on many of these roads is 100kms an hour, and there is barely room for two cars to pass let alone larger vehicles. There also aren’t that many long straight stretches. So three cheers for L, as we are all still in one piece. Also now glad that our vehicle is fluorescent yellow and very narrow.
Not going to describe everything we’ve seen as this will take hours. We are staying in Doolin, near the Cliffs of Moher and meeting our tour later this morning. The month of September is apparently ‘matchmaking month’ in (a small town near Doolin that starts with L) and the place is swarming. Can barely drive between the haphazard of parked cars, can hardly see the sky between the maze of banners and flags flapping about, and can barely hear the traffic over the sound of the music. Looks like a big deal, and very touristey. We got out of there quicky. Though I since found out Sinead O’Connor performed there at one stage so maybe that is what the commotion was for.
Instead we headed for the wild open places, or at least L agreed to drive me up to the barren hills where the wind has carved deep furrows through the stone, and where there are surprising amounts of vegetation nestled between the rocks and cushioned beneath the glorious sky. We found a beautiful old dolmen up there, dignified and peaceful still, despite the fact that all the other tourists found it too. Spent some quiet time wandering around the dolmen. L tells me that there are more varieties of wildflower here than (anywhere else???) and was busy photographing these while I left my brain in the car and just floated about.
Later, crossed off another personal goal which is to eat a traditional Irish Stew. I am not going to try to replicate this one at home. Would seem impolite.
Couldn’t face the Cliffs of Moher, drove down there and was littered with our old friends the tourist buses. Seems like every second person in the world is currently touring this corner of Ireland.
Part 2 – L is a bit over it, having absorbed all the stress of driving, and so hot cross bun and I went off together lurking about the Cliffs of Moher in the twilight. It was brilliant. Noone there except a few other lurker-ers. And coz it was closed for the day didn’t have to pay 6 euros either !!!
Then heard some beautiful traditional music in the Doolin pub; McCanns or McGanns which is apparently famous amongst folk musicians. The lady singing had that classic haunting west coast Irish voice and I could have listened to her for hours and hours until daylight and then beyond. But we are on schedule and I can’t be dragging the chain in the morning. Was a late night as it was.
This morning we join up with a tour of ancient sacred sites of Ireland. Not sure what its going to be like, but we’ll find out soon enough.
We met a couple of american ladies last night – one is 1/4 greek 3/4 irish just like me. Her greek connection is to the westernmost island of greece whereas mine is to the eastermost island of greece. Both our names start with “M”. How weird is that. Anyway she has given me the names of two music shops in Dingle where I might be able to beg wheedle and cajole someone to transcribe some song lyrics for me; or even better someone might have even published a west coast song book. She said to find an old man called Padraig who is a violin maker and plays the uielean pipes (and every other instrument). So if (when) I mysteriously disappear from the tour that’s why.
It is very early am here and I know why I am awake – there is a brilliant moon shining in what is now a clear sky, soon to set into the western ocean, I hope this happens before the sun is up. So tired as I am shall sit up to see. How exciting – a ‘moon set’ over water !!!
We say goodbye to hot cross bun today. She has certainly had some adventures with us and she has turned out to be quite a trooper. Have become quite fond of her.
15 September 2011, the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
postscript – some photos below
this is the Poulnabrone Dolmen, the Burrough, West Coast Ireland – a very ancient site
(the people in the photo are unknown ‘other tourists’)
and some photos of the very famous Cliffs of Moher