Inishmore

We spent the night in Galway after leaving the Burren. On our full day in Galway, it was raining–finally. Our weather luck ran out, but Riley booked a Hawk Walk at Ashford Castle up on the coast, so we drove up there and found a whole castle that’d been turned into a hotel. Rooms for 300 euros/night. I don’t have any pictures from that day because I just knew I’d drop my phone into a puddle. Riley had her Go Pro recording, and there are some great videos out in the wild now.

The Hawk Walk basically means a falconer put a hawk on Riley’s arm and we took a walk through the woods. The falconer had the hawk fly off and return to Riley’s arm (she paid for it, so I just Go Pro-ed the whole thing). Our hawk was Lima, and we also got to see another hawk, Bagun (bacon in Irish), tear apart a mouse and eat some quail chunks. It was very neat.

Then we drove back to Galway and had a very bizarre afternoon tea at a hotel. I suspect we were the only people who’d ordered it in, like, a year. But it was fun to have a calmer day and not pack in a million things, especially because the next day had us getting up early to drive to Rossaveel, a port for ferries headed out to the Aran Islands.

We took the ferry that left at ten-thirty and met up with our guide from a trap-and-pony tour (basically, a horse and cart), which we both loved and were happy to spend money on because the people crammed into the bus tours looked miserable. It was drizzling and the bus windows fogged up, so they couldn’t see anything anyway.

Our guide took us on a four-hour tour in the horse-pulled cart. Four hours! We went all around the island, which isn’t that big, with him telling us about what it was like to grow up there. They got electricity in the 1970s. I mean, what!

One of our stops was Seven Churches, literally a site with the remains of seven different little churches and a graveyard. Next was Dun Aonghasa, a prehistoric hill fort built at the edge of a 100-meter cliff. It was a scrabbling, rocky walk up to the top, but that view was on par with the Cliffs of Moher. Finally, we stopped at the seal colony, and I got a blurry picture of a little seal head poking out of the water.

We stayed on Inishmore overnight at the Seacrest B&B. Most of the other tourists left on the last ferry of the day, but Riley and I headed over to Joe Watty’s, a pub, and ate soup and soda bread. The town is so different after the ferry leaves–almost deserted. It would be a great set for some apocalyptic movie. We looked at sweaters (Riley had already bought one at the shops near Dun Aonghasa), then played some Phase 10 in the B&B.

In the morning, after breakfast (Irish breakfast, of course, everywhere we stopped), we walked on the beach at low tide before catching our ferry back to Rossaveel. On the ferry, this homeless-looking man started reciting poetry to us that he’d written. Apparently he self-published a book and sold it out of the ferry’s snack bar. Turns out… he was the captain of the ship, which Riley recognized but I didn’t.

We drove back to Dublin that day, with a stop at Clonmacnoise halfway through. Clonmacnoise is a medieval Christian holy site, with not one but TWO round towers, about a dozen churches and a ruined cathedral, and a killer view. The stone crosses in the picture on the right are pretty iconic.

Thus ended the road trip part of Riley’s visit. We were both sick by then and exhausted, though pleased with ourselves. We wandered around Dublin the next day and had expensive (but worthwhile) afternoon tea at the Morrison, on the river Liffey. Riley flew home the day after that, and I started my regimen of orange juice and sleep to get over my cold. Riley apparently had the flu. Bullet dodged.

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