This morning we talked with the couple who ran our B and B about things to do in the area. They suggested that we drive toward the west coast above Galway to see the scenery--a narrow valley between mountains where the road runs right beside a lake . . . sounded just like home to us. In fact, though Ireland is fantastically green and lovely, I think some of the impact may have been lessened for us because we also come from a "region of outstanding natural beauty" (sign post label for the north coast of Northern Ireland. Equivalent to our "Scenic Byway").
Instead we went to The Museum of Country Life. It was harder to find than it needed to be--it had signs saying it was 5 miles ahead, but no sign at the actual turn, and we missed it the first time, and had to guess on the way back. But it was well worth it. We learned all sorts of interesting things about daily life in Ireland from just before the Industrial Revolution and leading up to modern life. We ended up spending 2 1/2 hours there. That included the gift shop--Casey couldn't believe how much time Anika and I could spend in gift shops--often without even buying anything.
The cone shaped hat is actually a mask worn by "strawboys", who are uninvited but expected guests at a traditional Irish wedding. (Be generous with them or they will let everyone in the community know how cheap you are.) The Irish common folk used to make a lot of things out of straw--ropes, roofs, horse collars, hen baskets. Speaking of hens, I got a kick out of this old Irish myth--apparently all the chickens in Ireland are believed to have come originally from Denmark. At night when they cluck and mutter to each other on settling down, they are really discussing whether or not it's time to go back.
So then we headed for Cong. Our host, Jimmy, had told us it was a nice place to visit--it's where The Quiet Man was filmed. Later we saw an amazingly ornate cross that was found in Cong and is now in the Museum of Archaeology in Dublin. Cong is a very tiny town on an island between rivers. The streets are only one way. They have a museum devoted to The Quiet Man movie. They have a woolen mills and, of course, a Spar. We bought some more groceries, (Cranberry Wensleydale, Grommit!) and also some fries at the Quiet Man Cafe.
After Cong, we drove through the grounds of the nearby Ashford Castle that has been turned into a very posh hotel. We just took pictures from the outside because we didn't want to spend the time or the money to see the inside of a hotel.
In fact, our main goal for the day was simply to spend the evening in a pub in Doolin listening to some traditional music. Once again, it took a fair amount of time to drive there. The roads just got narrower the closer we got. It's pretty nerve wracking to pass a tour bus, and pretty frequent. We wondered what happens when two busses pass. . . . Our B and B was actually in Lisdoonvarna, and took a bit of finding. Unlike our other B and Bs, this one was uncomfortably small, and also smelled. But at least we spent most of our evening in Doolin.
This is the view from the parking lot of the pub where we had our dinner and evening of Trad.
We told the waitress who seated us that we intended to stay for the music, and she asked another tourist couple if we could share their table right in front of the place where the musicians set up. They were from upstate New York and we enjoyed talking to them about their favorite things to do in Ireland--this was their sixth or seventh trip.
Anika had fish and chips again. Casey had a spicy lamb burger with spicy fries. I had cabbage with bacon--it turned out to be more bacon (really, ham steaks) than cabbage. And it was so yummy. But I felt like I ate way too much meat while I was in Ireland. Every B and B served the "full Irish" breakfast of bacon, sausage, black pudding, white pudding, toast, brown bread, and eggs. We started asking them to serve us less after a couple of days.
The musicians started up about 9:30--a young lady on fiddle, accordian, and Irish bagpipes (not all at once) backed up by her dad on flute and a young man on guitar. She also sang. We bought one of her CDs.
Every once in a while the man on flute would let out a whoop, with hardly a break in the music. I never caught him at it.
It was standing room only by 10:00. We felt pretty lucky to be so close and have seats. Truly a fun night. We left about 11. It was then that we noticed this artwork on the outside of the pub.
The Irish do love their music.