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Published: August 19th 2017
We were sad to be leaving Westport today, because we would be saying goodbye not only to many of our tour companions but also to the Hazelbrook B&B with its supernaturally cheerful host, John, who was always singing and whom one guest described as a real-life leprechaun. We got all our fellow travelers together for a nice dinner upstairs at An Port Mor with monkfish, pork belly, crab salad, and various other specialties.
Early morning loop walk past cow pastures. I love the abundance of walking and biking paths In Ireland and the UK!
We had some laughs trying to arrange pick-up times with our tour leader because of his accent. He would say, "I'll be stopping by at eight-torty-five," and we didn't know if he was saying 8:35 or 8:45 (the former). This happened almost every morning, until we started saying "eight-three-five?"
On the way to Galway to meet up with our second tour group, we stopped for an hour in Cong, site of the movie The Quiet Man, and they don't let you forget it. There is a sculpture of John Wayne and Maureen O'Hara in the center of town, and every other shop is named
the Quiet this or the John Wayne that. The best thing about the town, in our opinion, was a ten-minute walk out to Ashcroft Castle Hotel just to see the gorgeous grounds and find out what an $800/night hotel looks like.
Our accommodations at College Crest in Galway were not as fancy but perfectly acceptable. A short walk put us at Eyre Square, the center of town. It was a very lively place with a long pedestrian street with numerous street musicians and dancers busking for a living. There is a very nice walking path which has the river on one side and a canal on the other so you are walking on a narrow strip of land surrounded by water. That night we went to a storytelling event at the Crane Bar. The stories were tall tales, very silly, involving fairies (mostly malevolent ones) told very expressively by an enthusiast Irishman
Our new tour group got together on the 18th, six Canadians and the rest Americans, an older crowd this time, and we are 16 on a 16-passenger van, so no more empty seats. We miss our Aussies! We had pretty nasty, rainy weather today, which is
too bad, because we are heading into some beautiful country in the southwest of Ireland, county Kerry, etc. Highlights of this day's journey were the Burren, massive hills of bare rock; the town of Lisdoonvarna, world-renowned for its Matchmaker Festival that dates back to a time when single men farmers needed some help finding women who would take on the hard life in country Ireland; wild Atlantic waves off Doonan Pier; and finally, the Cliffs of Moher. Unfortunately the wind was gusting so hard (50 mph?) that we were not allowed to drive up to the drop point so only a few of us got off and walked to the cliffs. Jean had to stay behind and let us share photos with her afterwards. I felt like my glasses were going to blow off. Good thing Wayne held onto me, because the wind almost toppled me a couple of times. This just added to the grandeur of the cliffs, I suppose!
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