This is a blog by committee, a wonderful concept that taps the unique experiences and focus of each of us. We’ve decided to post by themes. This post is a chronology of our trip, a framework for future posts.
Thurs. June 8 – Mary, Linda and Deb arrived in Dublin after an overnight flight. Stayed at the Waterloo Lodge. Attempted to combat jet lag with a long walk through Dublin, battered by a thunderstorm, fortified by tea, scones (at Queen of Tarts), beer and fish and chips (at Searson’s Pub). Alanna was in Ballycastle, County Mayo, at a print making workshop since the Sunday before.
Fri. June 9 – Picked up our trusty chocolate brown Skoda at the Dublin Airport around noon after the adventure of the lost black bag. Lunch and fabulous tours of Newgrange and Knowth. We weren’t on the road West until after 5pm. We arrived at Fuchsia Cottage just before dark and just before the big rain and wind hit. A magenta storm according to Mary’s weather app. The house was rattling but we were cozy and warm. The next morning was windy but clear. We walked the wide, sandy beach and looped back to Fuschia Cottage. The next day, wet and gray, we braved the walk to Kilcummin pier, the scene of Wolf Tone’s short-lived rebellion against the British in coordination with French revolutionaries, 1798. We walked in wind and rain accompanied by Conor the dog and a busy border collie. We lit the turf fire when we got back and dried our clothes by its radiant heat. We had dinner and Jack the Lad ale at the Village Inn in Killala.
Conor the dog and friend
Fuschia Cottage hearth
Sun. June 11 – After a windblown visit to Ceide Fields, we had dinner with Alanna and her fellow class participants at Ballycastle Art Centre.
Ceide Fields visitor center
Unearthed bronze age fences
Mon. June 12 – Mary, Deb and Linda visited Downpatrick Head, windy as usual, but clear and no rain. Lovely hummocky bog land and stunning cliffs to turquoise ocean. We picked up Alanna and headed to Clifden with a stop in Newport for a great lunch at Kelly’s Kitchen. We scored cozy felt smurf slippers in a craft shop. We drove the skinny, precipitous road to Achill Island all the way to Keem Strand. Basking shark fishing took place here. The liver oil fueled the lamps of Dublin. This is the land of Grace O’Malley the Pirate Queen (1530-1600), queen of Clew Bay.
Kelley’s Kitchen, Newport
The crumbling home of the Pirate Queen
Newport smurf slippers
Above Keem Bay
We arrived in Clifden around 8pm and settled into the Clifden Lighthouse Dwelling. It’s an old building, a little tired, but an easy 5 minute walk into Clifden. Clifden was a good base to stock up on food and engage in some retail therapy. Deb and Linda drove out to Omey Island at low tide. We walked across the sand to the island, beach combed and cairn constructed and visited the church ruins in a sheltered hollow, hidden from pirates. We had a lovely lunch of veg soup and seafood chowder at Sweeney’s. We learned about Pascal, the last man standing on Omey Island.
Omey Island beach
Moving the cows at low tide
Teampaill Feichin, medieval church
Crocan na Mban
Omey Is. Maiden’s cairn
The staffs of life: cappucino and Guinness at Sweeney’s
Deb, Mary and Alanna drove out to Roundstone and hiked a bit in the bog. We found a wonderful craft center where Alanna fell under the spell of Malachy the bohdran builder. After a walk on the white sands of Dog’s Bay, we met Pat the pony man. He took us to his horse barn and introduced us to three generations of well-bred Connemara ponies. Some important trans-Atlantic firsts around Clifden: Marconi exchanged the first trans-Atlantic radio message here in 1907. Alcock and Brown completed the first non-stop flight across the Atlantic in 1919, crash landing in the bog near the radio station.
Pat and Independence, a champion Connemara pony
Alanna and Mary at Dog’s Bay
Taking a bite of Marconi peat turf
Thurs. June 15 – We drove to Rosaveel, parked the car and caught the 10:30 ferry to Inishmor. We stayed at the cozy Pierhouse. Windy and gray, but not much rain. We toured the island with lying Bertie Flaherty and walked out to the Dun Aengus fort. We walked to dinner and music at Joe Watty’s pub. Next morning we explored the island and caught the 4pm ferry back to the mainland. We drove around Galway bay and got to Ballyvaugh and Stone House around 7pm. A sigh of relief: home base for 6 days.
Jow Watty’s Pub for music and good eats
Irish Blue Grass at Joe Watty’s
Na Seacht d’ Teampaill-the 7 Churches
Nan Phaidi’s home of Guiness Stew and Crabcakes
Breaching the fort
Fort with a view
Dun Aonghasa on the edge
Solid stone walls
Dun Aonghasa path
June 16-June 21– Stone House. The weather finally cleared for us. It’s a magical place, the Burren hills on one side, Galway Bay on the other, easy walk to town and a lovely loop walk right out the door. We had a most perfect visit to the Cliffs of Moher, warm, still, endless visibility. We caught some spontaneous music in Doolin at O’Connor’s Pub. It was a weekend folk festival so lots of musicians hanging about. Kathleen and Danny, Don’s cousins, stayed at a BnB in Fanore. We shared meals and long walks with them. Cousin JP came drove from Tuam for dinner two nights. Emily and Eric joined us for a night and got to meet the Irish relatives. We had a serendipitous meeting with John O’Donohue’s sister in law, a friend of Noel’s and she connected us to a most perfect Solstice choral concert at the church in Ballyvaughn. So many rich experiences for all of us here. We needed at least another week.
Cliffs of Moher
Burren in the evening light
Danny the pathfinder
The crest of Sliabh Eilbhe
O’Connor’s Pub in Doolin
Our path on this trip
Sweetest pub in Ireland
Cliffs of Moher on a perfect day
Gathering the clan
A wee nip at O’Laichlan’s
Caution: Loose Hens
Stone House sunset
June 22- Dublin airport hotel, last pint at the pub. Up at 3:15 the next morning for the trip home. And then begins the re-entry to the real world, trying to savor and imprint in our memories the many rich experiences of our Irish journey.
Wood Loop sunset
Old Pier Ballyvaughn
Wood Loop evening walk
Lismorahaun Singers Summer Solstice concert
St John’s Church, Ballyvaughn
Leaving Stone House
Stone House heaven
The parting glass
Says it all