Down from the mountain

June 17th 2009
Published: June 17th 2009
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On top of Crough PatrickOn top of Crough PatrickOn top of Crough Patrick

some 750 meters and it was COLD! But I did it.
Greetings from Ireland with apologies for not blogging before now. It's hard - and 'spensive - to find internet access. But here I am. It's been busy and wonderful and there's much to tell. I'm travelling with a couple from Milano, Matteo and Adriana and our guide, Emily from Tralee, who is sweet and earnest and funny and delights in sharing stories with us about the mythic history of this place. She also makes amazing porridge, which we all wolfed down this morning before attacking the climb up Croagh Patrick, a serious mountain that was a religious site since pre-historic times, until Patrick spent 40 days at the top in his pre-saint days, drove the snakes out from the top (thereby eliminating Snake Whacking Day), whereup he wandered down, had a pint of green beer and invented the Kiss Me I'm Irish lapel button. Lovely story, really.
It's a holy place and pilgrims climb it in their bare feet one day each year. We were struggling in hiking boots - a very hard climb. I admire their gusto if not their devotion.
We started out from Dublin Monday morning, stopping at a well in the heart of Ireland, then moving onto
near the topnear the topnear the top

Crough Patrick - today
the west coast and the village of Letterfrack just outside Conemarra national park - which sounds like a filthy curse from Battlestar Gallactica, but which is in fact a wee village of a few people and two very friendly dogs, one of whom climbed a mountain with us there Monday evening after we arrived. We're straying in an apartment in Letterfrack - some initial dismay we were all rooming together was sorted out. Yesterday we did an amazing 3 and a half hour hike around a bay, following a winding track that was an old famine road, built by the starving during the potato famine (or potatoe if you are Dan Quayle). Stories of the famine about here - as common a mythic lore and legend about goddesses and warlords and Celtic Kings. We're drinking great beer and eating amazing seafood and I am quite in love with the agile sheep here, who are always ahead of you on the mountain somewhere. Their fleeces are marked with bright colours as a kind of brand. So dinner in the village in County Mayo I'm writing to you from, back to Letterfrack and County Galway. But first, I need to find me
First climbFirst climbFirst climb

we did this one before supper Monday - it's nearly 9 p.m. in this photo but it strays light til past 10 here.
a pub.

Additional photos below
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Our first stop, on the way to Letterfrack
Ready to climbReady to climb
Ready to climb

Matteo, Emily and Arianna look over the map. They knew better than to ask me to contribute.
second day's hikesecond day's hike
second day's hike

around the bay by the famine road
lovely spotlovely spot
lovely spot

we sat here and ate our lunch after the hike
Kylemore AbbeyKylemore Abbey
Kylemore Abbey

A former manor house, close to Letterfrack. Now it's a girls's school and nunnery.

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