Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Ireland--Day 6

Friday, August 21-- We woke up feeling that we had slept rough. But at least the breakfast was good. There were two young women at the next table who spoke with strong Irish accents to our hosts ("Tanks a lot.") but spoke Irish to each other. (At least, we think that's what it was.) At one point children in Ireland were forbidden to speak anything but English in schools. Very few people learn Irish as their native tongue these days. It was nice to hear it.
After breakfast, we drove to Ennistymon for the ATM--this B and B also took cash, but not cards.

Then we went to the Cliffs of Moher. This, aside from Dublin, is the only place I visited all three times I've been in Ireland. It's always impressive, but since Casey and I were here 19 years ago, they have installed a mile of retaining walls to keep people back from the edge. There is also a modern visitors' center cleverly dug into the hillside to minimize the impact on the scenery. It has an enormous gift shop, where we bought a book of leprechaun stories and several Irish penny whistles.
The first time I came here with my friends, Ruth and Mary Alice, Ruth and I went right out onto that flat stone ledge and lay on our stomachs to look over the edge. (MA preferred to keep her distance.) You can't get within 100 feet of that ledge now. I remember looking down on hovering gulls.
They now have an app you can download onto your phone that will take you on an audio tour of the cliffs. There's even free wifi there. 
A number of movies have had the Cliffs of Moher in them--notably The Princess Bride (the cliffs of Insanity) and Harry Potter (the cave where Harry and Dumbledore found a horcrux.) There are higher sea cliffs to the north (Slieve League) but they are not as sheer nor as accessible. They come with warnings about treacherous footing, and be careful in the rain, etc. We felt fine with our "Disney-like" safety walls. (That's how one blogger referred to them.)

Next we drove to Bunratty Castle and folk park--because everyone should get a chance to walk up one of those tiny spiral staircases they have in old castles. It was a first for Anika. 
Traffic was heavy in both directions on these stairs. I felt like I was getting to know some people quite well just from squeezing past them multiple times as we all went up and down. 
This castle had fallen into ruin before a couple came along who loved all things medieval, and restored it. The original family had moved to the more comfortable manor house across the park in the 18th century. The rest of the park today consists of buildings moved from many different areas of Ireland to be examples of lifestyles typical for laborers, fisherman, blacksmiths, millers, farmers, etc. from Ireland's past. One house was moved here when they wanted to build an airport where it stood. There is even a church--moved stone by stone and reassembled--that originally came from County Tipperary. As we went into the upstairs attic room of a prosperous farmhouse from the 1800's I had such a strong physical memory of having been there before--with Ruth and Mary Alice, while suffering from a bad head cold--that I almost felt sick. At least this time the weather was cooler. It gets hot in attic rooms.
It rained off and on all day.
Anika was enchanted by the donkeys. She thinks they are so pretty.

It was getting to be late afternoon by the time we started driving toward Dublin. We went through one million roundabouts before we finally got to the M--equivalent to our freeways.  Now and then we'd pass a ruined stone tower in a field, or a modern wind-farm full of white tri-bladed turbines. Anika fell asleep. We got off the M for gas in a little town called Borris-in-Ossory. The gas attendant recommended we go on to Port Laoise (pronounced port leesh) for dinner. On the way, we saw a rainbow. (We also bypassed a toll zone on the M, so that was our tiny pot of gold.)
It was tricky to find parking in Port Laoise, and we were realizing time was getting on. We felt grumpy. Luckily, we found a nice shop where we got Anika a chicken sandwich and us a barbecue chicken pizza (which was really good). They both came with chips. We felt better.
Tonight was the only night we hadn't made arrangements for where to sleep. We stopped in one little town and asked at a B and B for a vacancy. She didn't have any and neither did any of the friends she called for us. (This method would work for the off season in Ireland, but not in summer.) So we went to a nearby hotel, considered staying there, but in the end we used their wifi to book the same hotel near the Dublin Airport that we had booked for our last night. That way we'd be close when we went to return our car in the morning. And we got to leave our luggage there while we went around Dublin our last day. 


Katie said...

The cliffs of inanity!!! How cool is that!? And how crazy that there is wifi at cliffs. Oh and that is risky business finding a place on the fly. We did thata lot in Europe but sometimes it was so stressful and hard. Oh and Edith I can't believe this is your THIRD time to Ireland!

edith said...

I know, right?!