Sunday, July 3–Galway City

Lally Tours to Inis Mor; horse drawn carriage tour with a lovely young red headed guide; Dun Aengus; bit of trouble getting back to town; dinner and a pint at the Skeffington Arms Hotel

Connacht HotelA later note about names--this hotel and the one where I stayed in Castlebar (see June 29) both have different English spellings of the same Irish Gaelic name for one of the four ancient provinces, the Westernmost one, often spelled Connacht and pronounced (as far as I could hear) con-nackt

Black VW Passat sedan

Slideshow

11/4/2016

This is one of those days where although I went a lot of places, there's not that much to say about any of them.

Some of the women from the hen party a couple of doors down were out in the hall being kind of loud around 3 AM, 4 AM, and again at 6:30 AM which I found kind of hard to believe considering some of them hadn't been to bed yet at 4 AM.

I found out that the manager had indeed fixed or sent someone to fix the temperature control in the shower–the water pressure's still crappy but I could set it to some temperature a lot more comfortable than almost scalding.

I had one of my Slimfasts for breakfast, caught a cab from the hotel, and was downtown waiting for the bus out to the Aran Islands ferry port by 9 for our 9:30 pickup. Lally Tours doesn't really do tours of any of the Aran Islands–what they do is provide transportation to and from the ferry port, and sell you a round trip ticket on the ferry itself. The morning pickup went smoothly.

The route from downtown Galway to the ferry terminal in Rossafeel/Ros ah Mhil goes right into the heart of the Gaeltacht, one of the strongest Irish Gaelic speaking parts of the country where all signs are in Gaelic and much of the time don't have any English at all. It goes along the coast from Salthill, Galway's beach area, through the towns of Spiddal/An Spideal and Barna/An Lochan Beag, both of which look like they'd be fun to spend time in. I've driven through Spiddal before, either to or from Galway on the CIE tour ten years ago.

Today we had the best weather I've seen since I've been here, almost warm when the wind wasn't blowing. As usual I was on the open deck of the ferry, where I like to be when I can for the best pictures. On the boat over, this was a small patch of the rear upper deck. It's 26 miles from the ferry port on the mainland to the ferry dock on Inis Mor, and takes about 45 minutes in good weather, and much of it is in open water.

I had about 5 hours on the island. Almost as soon as you get off the ferry people are giving you fliers for their restaurant, bike hire, or tour van. I was going to take the hop on, hop off van tour after I had some lunch but as I was walking to the nearest restaurant I met a slim, lovely, intelligent young redhead with a great sense of humor who was standing by her cart and her two horses so there was no question how I was going to explore the island. Her name was Niamh, pronounced Neeve, and I found out throughout the tour that she's the 18th recorded generation of her family on the island, her dad & an aunt were the only siblings out of 11 who still live on the island, as does her grandmother, that she is finishing a degree in animation in Limerick and comes home to work in her family business, driving one of their horse carts. She was an excellent tour guide, very informative, a delight and adorable. I rode with a Caucasian woman and her possibly adopted colored young son (who got to sit up front with Niamh, lucky guy) and an American family of 5, all nice people.

I think we saw almost all the sights on the island, taking the lower coast road along past a viewpoint to where seals hanging out on the rocks below can be seen (from where we were, they rather look like rocks themselves until one of them moves), and all the away around to Dun Angus, where we were for about an hour and a half. I had a pretty good sandwich and pastry at the small café there before setting off up the hill myself.

It's about a twenty minute, fairly steep climb up a decent gravel path to just at the top when the path becomes rocks. I had to check the terrain immediately in front of me, and basically plan out where I would step, rock by rock, but I made it up to the top. I don't have a lot to say about Dun Angus, other than the ruins are very impressive, the view from up there is incredible, and no, I did not go all the way out to the edge of the cliff and look straight down. Going back down the rocky part to the graveled part was as scary and difficult as it was going up, and I even stepped on one rock where for some reason that step had absolutely no traction and I almost fell, but I made it back down in the allotted time Niamh had given us.

Niamh took the other, inland route back to the main town, and there were a couple of steeper places where she asked the younger passengers to get out and walk for a bit. My knees were still kind of wobbly from the hike up to Dun Angus and back down so I stayed in the cart. Niamh got us back to the center of the town around 4 PM, in good time for my 5 PM ferry departure. I checked out a couple of places, including the large Aran Island sweater shop but didn't find anything with a full front zipper that fit me.

The ferry back was an older vessel, with an open top deck, which is where I sat because it was sunny and I had on two layers for when it would get colder on the trip across. The boat was packed.

When we got off the ferry, I learned that there are no signs as to where you're supposed to board the bus back. In fact, it soon became apparent that Lally had screwed up because there were far more people waiting than there was room for on the bus. I had a ticket for the 5:45 bus, but apparently no one was checking which bus people were actually supposed to be on. After two buses left, there were still around 30 of us left who needed the transportation back to Galway we had already paid for. The single Lally employee still on duty disappeared for about 15 minutes and returned with another bus, and we left about an hour later than I was originally supposed to.

This part's being typed Monday morning. Last night I stretched out for just a bit before finishing up these notes, and although it wasn't 1 AM yet, that was it but I did wake up long enough to get undressed and under the covers.

After we finally got back to Galway, it was time for dinner somewhere. I definitely wanted to eat somewhere downtown this time, since I'd had dinner back at the hotel the last two nights. I found my way back to Eyre Square with the plan to eat somewhere around it. I'd passed the Skeffington Arms Hotel, an older hotel right on the square with a bar & restaurant, a couple of times in my earlier wandering around and decided to give it a try, and am glad I did. They have a small restaurant which you have to wander through their delightful old bars to get to. Despite having a somewhat limited menu, with only a few main courses, appetizers, and sandwiches to choose from I had a nice lasagna, a wonderful seafood chowder, and dessert,

I then caught a cab back here to my hotel and started typing these notes after deciding where I want to go and what I want to do today (Monday), and tomorrow (Tuesday) on my way to Doolin, which is only an hour and a half away so I'll have the whole day to get there.

I'm not going to replace my suitcase with the rip just yet, so I don't need to go shopping today. I'm taking an easy day today with the morning off. I want to go back downtown, maybe taking the local bus instead for a change, and go see St Nicholas church again since I didn't want to wander around taking pictures while the American youth choir was rehearsing while I was there on Saturday, and I still haven't made it over to the Galway cathedral yet. The forecast is rain showers for this afternoon, but I just booked a seat on the 2:30 cruise on the Corrib Princess cruise–and successfully used my Irish Android smart phone to do so--which leaves from downtown Galway near the cathedral and goes out on the Corrib River to the lake and back. Since the cathedral's open until 6:30 PM (I just checked their web page) I'll head downtown for lunch, go see St Nicholas church, take the cruise, then visit the cathedral, have dinner somewhere downtown, and head back to the hotel.

Sometime today or this evening, I want to load my two suitcases with my spare clean clothes and the bags with whatever else I won't need tomorrow morning into the car so I'll only have to make one trip before going back to reception to check out.

Tomorrow on my way to Doolin, I want to go to two of the sites in Ireland which are most connected with Yeats, Coole Park, which was the home of Isabella Augusta, Lady Gregory who was one of the main figures in the Irish literary revival and a friend and patron of Yeats, and Thoor Ballylee, which Yeats and his family lived in until 1929 and was restored in 1965 as a Yeats museum.


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