Published: July 29th 2012July 29th 2012
I'm sitting on a maroon, velvet victorian-era chair in the corner of the loft that overlooks our kitchen. When I look straight ahead I see an old spinning wheel, black wood beams and a bit of stone wall. The room is lit by daylight that comes through several sky lights. Lumpy chaise lounges woo me for a nap, but I just got up so they will have to wait.
We've been here a few days now, but I've lost track of time. I think it's Wednesday, but who knows? who cares? I could live here forever. We're in rural Ireland near Lough Derg and the River Shannon. Yellow roses frame our front door, daisies and buttercups lace the hills behind us and mules and chickens greet us in the morning. In the distance cows are calving and families are working their farms and businesses. Our proprietors, Fidelma and Michael, are genuinely welcoming people who are proud to share their land with us, even giving us eggs from their chickens and freshly-baked scones and brown bread from their kitchen. I hope we get the chance to drink around the fire with them before we leave.
We have no WiFi or Internet, which means we have to go to the Library to get online (to quickly check emails and bank balances). I'm okay with that since it gives me a chance to chat with the Librarians and check out their books, which are in English and Gaelic. In the travel section I found a book about Oscar Wilde's travels alongside your typical guide books.
We've slowed down and relaxed a lot since we've gotten here. First off we've (well I should say our drivers Ericka and Joe) have mastered the driving thing, although I do still sometimes cringe when a truck comes our way or we shred bushes alongside the road.
One night we ate dinner at the local tavern and walked down the road to the oldest working church in Ireland (built I think sometime in 1,000) where we were treated to music and dance. A woman with a voice of gold sang old and new ballads, while another woman beautifully played the violin and an 80-plus year old man amazed us with his constantine (a round, small accordion-like thing). Kaylene has forgotten about Oliver the Bard and is now in love with the squeeze-box musician. In between they told us stories about the songs and how they were performed. Another woman "shadow danced" in the narrow center aisle. Her feet moved so fast they were all a blur. And then the highlight of it all was watching Fidelma and Michael's daughter leap around the church with her river dancing. Turns out the child is a national winner, and she is simply amazing.
I wish I could rightly explain what it was like to sit within a chapel so old and watch these people perform for us. It's a gift I will treasure.
We attempted to see the Cliffs of Moher, but the fog was so thick we didn't bother to pay for parking. We could barely see the road in front of us, so we'll have to see if we can fit in another drive that way before we leave. So, we visited pubs in Lisdoonvarna and Doolin. Irish coffee tastes waaayyyyy better in an Irish pub on a misty day.
Yesterday, we drove to Galway and sent Ericka's mother's ashes off to sea. The rain waited until after she sifted amongst the rocks and shells a bit before reminding us that the waters above can splash as much as the waves below. It was a good day to come home to Galway Bay.
My travel buddies are almost finished getting ready, so I'll have to stop for now. Today, we're planning on driving around the lake (Lough Derg) and visiting its villages. There are castles and fields and, of course, pubs every where. So, I'm sure it'll be another fabulous day.