“Whether the weather be hot, or whether the weather be not, we‘ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether we like it or not!”
- Irish saying
The weather is definitely not hot! It was fairly rainy today on the road, but no matter, we still had a great day. We had to leave O’Neills before they served breakfast, but we were still able to have some cereal, coffee, and soda bread (yumm) before we left just after 7:30. We walked to Paddy’s Palace hostel, where we were starting our Paddywagon 3 day tour of Southern Ireland. We set off just after 8 am, picked up a few more people at the other pick up location, and headed out of Dublin. Our driver/guide is Alex, who is a great driver and full of information and stories. There are a total of 38 on the tour. We don’t really like big bus tours, but we couldn’t find a small group tour with the itinerary we wanted, so we thought we’d try Paddywagon. So far, so good.
On the way out of Dublin Alex gave us information on Irish history, particularly on the relationship of the Irish to the English, who
ruled Ireland for so long. He told us a story which we heard from the taxi driver yesterday, about why some old buildings in Dublin, including the old Parliament building, have bricked up windows. This was because the British brought in a tax referred to as the daylight tax, which was based on the number of windows a structure had. So the Irish bricked up their windows so they wouldn‘t have to pay the tax.
After a couple of hours driving on the highway we stopped for a bathroom/coffee break, crossed the River Shannon, and soon left the highway for narrow, two lane roads as we drove through rural areas. I had been noticing lots of stone walls crisscrossing the fields, which Alex explained were the result of a British make work project during the Great Hunger (also known as the potato famine) of 1845-1852. The Irish don‘t call it a famine because there was actually a lot of food produced in Ireland during this time, but it was for export to England and other parts of the British Empire, not for the starving Irish. They relied on one crop as their main source of food, the potato, and
when the potato crop failed, millions died and millions were forced to emigrate.
We arrived at the village of Cong about noon, and had free time to explore and to have lunch. Susan and I walked around for an hour or so, visiting the Abbey ruins, and for a view of Ashford Castle. I preferred the atmospheric Abbey ruins. We had a really nice lunch at Pat Cohan’s pub (veggie soup for me, fish chowder for Susan, with soda bread). We also had a half Guinness each, and took a take away Irish coffee with us back on the bus. It was delicious and very warming on this chilly rainy day. Take away Irish coffee is a genius idea! Cong is known as being the filming location of the movie “The Quiet Man” (with John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara).
We left Cong about 2 pm and made a photo stop at Logh (Irish for lake) Corrib, the largest lake in the Republic of Ireland. We drove through beautiful areas, green fields with rock walls, dotted with sheep. It was a very scenic drive to Galway, despite the cloudy rainy weather. This is Connemara, an area of Ireland where
most of the people speak Irish. Irish is the official language of Ireland, and all road signs have Irish first, then English, but most people are not fluent. But in Connemara there is a very high percentage of fluent Irish speakers.
We arrived in Galway and settled into our B&B about 4:30 pm. We had a free evening, so Susan and I headed down the hill into town, stopping at various shops as we made our way to the Spanish Arch, built in 1584. Just next to the Arch was a restaurant with several people milling about, waiting for it to open at 6 pm, so we decided to wait and see if we could get in. It was just before 6 at this point. We were able to get a table, and we had a really nice dinner at this popular restaurant. Susan had monkfish, and I had sole, and we shared a carafe of Viognier, followed by cappuccinos. It was a nice change from pub food 😊.
We wandered back through the streets of Galway, stopping at a few more shops (I bought a wool scarf and a Celtic necklace), and ending up at a pub
called O’Connell‘s, where Susan had a Guinness and I had a really good gin and tonic (with Cork dry gin). We then walked a few more blocks and stopped at another pub, Murty Rabbitts, for another gin and tonic, before heading back to the B&B.
We leave Galway tomorrow at 8:30, ending the day in a small village in the Dingle Peninsula. Slainté!
(Last night when I published the blog I accidentally hit ”quiet publish” which publishes without sending the email notifications out, so you wouldn’t have received a notification about yesterday’s blog - so you might want to go back and check it out - just click on “previous entry”).
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