It's now almost 11:30 PM and this time I'm starting typing my notes up this late because I really did only get home about 45 minutes ago.
It was a very good day except for not getting enough sleep last night. I was rather surprised when not only was I in bed before midnight but I actually fell asleep not long after and slept quite welluntil woke I up sometime before 2 AM. I couldn't get back to sleep for about the next hour and a half. While I was lying there I checked distances again and decided that instead of leaving early enough to take the trip out to the Foynes Flying Boat Museum on the way to Dingle, and adding at least two to three hours to my trip, I'd just head directly to Dingle.
The only thing I need to do on my last day here in Ireland is drive from Killarney to Shannon airport and get there early enough to return my rental car and check in at the hotel right next to the airport where I'm spending that night.
I was just checking mileages again to see where else I might want to go on the way back to the airport. Foynes & the Flying Boat Museum are about an hour and a quarter from here. From Foynes directly to Shannon airport is only less than an hour. However, Adare is only half an hour from Foynes, then Bunratty is only half an hour from Adare, and then Shannon airport is less than half an hour from Bunratty so I think that's what I'll do next week.
I felt OK when I woke up about 7 this morning despite my lack of sleep. I took a shower & got dressed, then finished packing. I took three smaller loads from my mini apartment down to where I had parked my car not far from the elevator by the fitness center and then drove around to the front to check out at reception and was on my way about 10 AM after calling my hosts here at Duinin House to let them know I'd be arriving in mid afternoon, earlier than I had planned.
It was gorgeous outside today, almost warm enough to not need a jacket or sweatshirt and mostly sunny all day.
Traffic wasn't bad at any time one I got out of Galway, which was interesting and involved going through several round abouts just to get out of town. For much of the time my route was along well paved, fairly wide roads which were a single line in both directions but were only occasionally narrower and less well paved and as usual that was often when going through smaller towns. Sometimes, however, I drove along some lovely motorways, especially the the M18. There were even a couple of stretches coming through the mountains where the road was single lane but still had two way traffic.
My trip today took me through country on routes that were completely different from how I got here last summer, when I came in from Limerick. At first I drove along the N18 out of town which becomes the lovely M18 outside of Gort and then drives through Yeats Country, past Yeats' Tower/Thoor Ballylee and Coole Park, Lady Gregory's former estate. I stayed on M18 all the way down past Ennis and the turn off for Shannon airport, then switched on over to N21 for the trip West through Newcastle West and on to the outskirts of Tralee.
Somewhere along the N18 I noticed that what looked like the car's low tire pressure indicator was on so I stopped at a small service station out in the middle of the countryside. I think the kid who very kindly helped me didn't quite know what he was doing since he couldn't seem to find anywhere the correct tire pressure was indicated, although he did notice that the front tires were less than five psi below that of the rear tires. Since it was so close I decided I could wait until I can go to a real tire store if there is one here in the Dingle area somewhere. The stop allowed me to top off the gas and to use the restroom there, which helped since it was now about an hour and a half since I'd left. I was rather interested and amused to note that the service station has three self service laundry machines of varying capacities outside, which was the first time I've ever seen laundry facilities at any service station anywhere.
Somewhere approaching Tralee I started being able to see the mountains in the distance. At this time they were still behind a very light haze which was rather beautiful and very atmospheric (pun only slightly intended).
From there the Google Maps route directed me out to the Wild Atlantic coast, past Blennerville and the pretty windmill there and past Castlegregory. This time my route took me across the Dingle Peninsula along the amazingly beautiful and extremely rugged Conor Pass Road (video) through and across the mountains. On all the maps, and indeed on signs on either side of the pass, it says it is not recommended to cross it during bad weather and I certainly could see why.
I should have stopped for something to eat around Tralee, since from there to Dingle up and over the Conor Pass there is almost no place to eat. I did notice a couple of designated view points, so I think I'll head back up there to take pictures some morning if the weather's decent. It is really remarkably beautiful and rugged scenery through there.
Duinin House is about ten minute walk uphill along Conor Pass Road from the edge of downtown. I got here about 3 PM, met Pat and Anne again and got the key to the front door and to my room, which I think is exactly the same room I stayed in last July (later note, after looking at the pictures from then and now--yes, it is). It's not very large, and has a small desk which is where I have my laptop set up, a very comfortable bed, an end table next to the bed near the window, and a closet. Most importantly it has its own small but adequate bathroom with its own shower. If I need a larger work surface I can go into the lovely conservatory and use one of the tables and electrical outlets there.
There aren't that many electrical outlets in my room, not enough for the various things I wanted to plug in including at least one of my clocks and my power adapters that have USB outlets, so that was something else I wanted to look for after I had lunch. I stopped first at the Lidl at the base of the hill but although it's quite a nice store I'll probably go back to I didn't see any power strips there. When I asked at the drug store right next to the Lidl if they had any they didn't but the guy working there suggested I try the hardware store.
I continued downtown and parked in the pay lot right down by the waterfront. I wandered around for a few minutes taking pictures on such a lovely day before I went across the street and had an excellent lunch at the Boatyard restaurant there, including some of the best seafood chowder I've ever had anywhere. I sat out in their lovely conservatory looking out over the harbor and waterfront.
I then went up the street to the Tourist Information office, where I got a map of the area and information about the best place to look for a cab and the phone numbers of a couple of the local cab companies. I also picked up a flier for archaeological & scenic tours of the peninsula, and for another tour of the area as well. Another couple asked about where to hear some Irish traditional music and I listened in as well.
After I walked back to my car I used my iPhone with the Irish SIM card to look for and get directions to the hardware store where I had been told I could probably find the power strips. The directions were easy to follow until I accidentally went past the entrance to the small shopping center off the road I was on where the hardware store is. I'd forgotten how hilly Dingle is, largely because other than being here on the road to and from the B & B I spent most of the time I was here this past summer and eleven years ago down at sea level. Once I had gone past the entrance to the hardware store I had to keep going up the hill and down the other side and turn past where I had started out. This time I parked at the base of that hill and walked the few blocks uphill until I got to the hardware store, where I did indeed find two power strips.
I had to keep going back up the hill and loop around again until I could get to Conor Pass Road out of town and back up here to the B & B. I finished unpacking and organizing things, and then about 7:30 I walked downhill back to the corner with the main road. I would not want to walk along the road in bad weather or after dark since cars just go zipping along at a high rate of speed.
I was interested and pleased to see that the small brewery at the base of the hill, Dingle Brewing Company, which seemed closed when I was here in July, is open now and is brewing a beer named after Tom Crean, a local man who became a famous Antarctic explorer.
I still want to try and hear some music at O'Flaherty's, which I walked past when I was here on the CIE tour eleven years ago and didn't get to when I was here for just two nights in July, but right at the base of the hill are two other pubs very well known for Irish traditional music, An Droichead Beag/the Small Bridge and the Mighty Session. I thought I'd have dinner first at the Old Smokehouse, where I'd eaten back in July and rather liked, but they were closed. Instead I had a very nice if moderately expensive dinner at Doyle's seafood restaurant. While I was there I sent an email message to Kelly Doyle, the only person back in Portland I'm even in any sort of contact with.
After dinner I went around the corner to An Droichead Beag at Bridge Street where I was able to find a seat in a corner next to the fireplace where I could hear the musicians very well and could even see them most of the time. There was a coal fire burning in the fireplace and sometimes when the outside door was open too long there'd be a puff of smoke as if the small dragon inside woke up.
There were three musicians playing tonight, a guy who was quite amazing on guitar and two women, both very attractive and lovely and excellent musicans. One played flute and the other sang and played accordion. In fact, I was delighted to realize that I recognized the lovely accordionist. I bought her latest CD when I was here last July, I think at Dara & his Dad's music store, then when I was wandering around a bit later that afternoon I saw that Meabh (pronounced Meeve, as far as I can tell) Begley (she's on Facebook) and her partner on the album were playing the next night so my last evening here in Dingle on that trip I heard them.
Right after I got here, I asked Pat (who had taught Irish trad music in the schools here and so knows a lot of the venues and musicians) if he knew if Dara & his Dad had started their in store concerts again yet, and Pat kindly called the store and asked while I was unloading the car and bringing stuff in. I'm too early by a couple of weeks, however. I think I'll still go by the store anyway to see what CDs are new, and to Mazz O'Flaherty's even smaller record store for the same reason as well.
So what else do I want to do on the three days I'm here in this lovely little seaside town? I want to make the tour around the peninsula again, either driving myself of maybe part of a tour if I can find one. I also want to get out on the water. The harbor tours aren't operational yet this year but apparently both the dolphin watching companies are up & running so I might do that. And as I said earlier I'll probably drive back up from here and take pictures in the Conor Pass.
And that's it for tonight.