Wind battered and enchanted by stone   Leave a comment

i am so sweetly exhausted. This vacationing is hard work. I’ll be the rest of June recovering from it, and only then if it’s finally summer when we get home.

we’ve identified a tweak to make in future vaycay plans. We really need 3 nights in each place. Naturally one wants to see all one can. But sometimes one needs to slow down and enjoy each bit of the day, and that requires more time to breathe. 2 days in Dublin was okay, but another day here would have been perfect. We’re not going to see the Burren, or the Whatsit Dolmen, and we both need a really long sleep in.

however, of course, it’s very possible that the enchanted cottage will give us all that and be jewel-perfect for all 6 days. I’m clinging to this despite the determination of every single solitary Irish person we meet to deflate our excitement over it. The Dubliner with whom we chatted on the beach of the Aran Island today? ‘Leitrim? You know that’s the smallest county in Ireland don’t ya? There’s bliddy nothin’ to do in Leitrim.’ The waitress who brought us our pizza this evening. Her- ‘How long will you be here, and then where will you go.’ Me (brightly) ‘We leave tomorrow for Leitrim County.’ Her (smiling) ‘Oh lovely.’ Me (delightedly) ‘You’re the first Irish person I’ve met who didn’t make a face and go ‘Leitrim?’ Her (smiling even more prettily) ‘Oh, I was in my head.’

fuck.

well, whatever happens in Mohill (and I’m sure it will be INCREDIBLY MAGICAL), today worked out perfectly in spite of itself.

being a little tired and draggy, we decided we’d skip the Aran Islands and the Doolin Cave and the Burren and just (just) do the cruise under the Cliffs of Moher and then go scramble around on top of them.

Which really is a Day.

but after a hair-raising drive along roads no wider than a rabbit track we found ourselves at the ticket desk in the charming village of Doolin with a no-nonsense Irish blonde former runway model telling us firmly that the Cliffs cruises were cancelled due to the dangerous winds, and that we would take the 1 o’clock ferry to the Aran Islands, have lunch and explore for a few hours and then come back to Doolin. We acquiesced meekly, and requested permission to go to the Cliifs in the hour and a half we had to kill.

no, said she, it would be madness to go at that hour, it would be tour buses everywhere and we’d have queue to hike the cliffs or even get a wee cup of coffee, and we didn’t want that, did we?

So we obediently went to park at the dock and then explore Doolin.

only the dock was too far to walk back to Doolin and the ticket dispenser for the dock parking was maddening and then the diabolical wind blew our freaking parking slip INSIDE our dashboard and we practically had to disassemble our VW to get it out and we didn’t have enough time on it anyway and had to get another one but it refused to recognize our credit card and the wind was trying to send us skyward like Mary Poppins and our coffee was wearing off quickly.

hence our lack of spending $ in Doolin’s lovely sweater shops.

so we trudged around the astonishingly wild and wonderful shore near the docks and took some photos and tried to keep our hair attached to our heads and twice visited the surprisingly nasty public loos..

side note- Irish loos tend to be very nice as a rule. The unexpected exceptions are the ones on the dock in Doolin (gazillions of tourists! Put in better loos!), the PAY toilets at the bigass mall in Dublin (!!!!!??????) complete with surly attendant, and the terrifying one off the highway. But all in all, Ireland does right by those of us who need to pee. Oh, and last thing, I visited my first public gender-free restroom at the C of M that had actual men in it, and it was horrible and embarrassing and violating. I’m kidding. It was the biggest non-event of the day, although some of the men looked freaked out.

wow. This is shaping up to be the longest blog post ever. Good thing for you lot it’ll be my last one until we get home. The enchanted cottage lacks not only tv and wifi but even cell service, so who even knows if we’ll make it out alive?

after all, it’s in Leitrim.

eventually we boarded the Rose of Aran, quickly checked out and rejected the dreary lower cabin with its tiny clouded portholes, and made sad moues when we saw the nice upper seats were all taken. So we opted to stand like stalwart stanchions in the fo’castle, clinging to poles in the howling gale.

about 30 seconds into our voyage it began to spit. Then drizzle.

and then it rained.

howling winds, 12 foot swells, and driving rain.

but we’re tough. We had on jeans and thick hoodies and our awesome Columbia jackets. We could take it.

after a minute and a half I said, ‘let’s go downstairs,’ BUT the silver lining to this was that the rain had already driven all the other wimps downstairs, so the upper deck chairs were wet but empty. And, more to the point, shielded by the cabin, so less wind. Along with two other staunch couples we huddled on the slick bucking deck, watching the Deadliest Catch waves with awe and cradling our freezing paws in our armpits.

from time to time the wind would blow a puff of air, redolent with diesel but blessedly warm, into our faces. I breathed it in like it was Bermuda oleander.

but a little bit of me was in ecstasy. Even back at the dock, watching the remorseless waves crash and shatter on the sharp rocks, part of me was dying to be in it, part of that inexorable force, the sucking in and the bellowing forth of the Great Mother Ocean. Either I was a sea creature in another life or I’ve got ancestral memories of being in the primordial soup. Maybe it’s the same thing.

we arrived eventually, and the rain stopped, and the sun chased the crazy wallowing schizophrenic Irish clouds, and we were met at the Island dock by a flock of charmingly persuasive Aran Islanders with insanely appealing feather-footed draft horses seducing us with their accents to take buggy tours of the island with them. We beat them back manfully, probably only because we were wet and freezing and in desperate need of sustenance.

michael clopped up behind us as we trudged toward the pub and almost prevailed. In 30 feet we learned that not only would he take us round the island for only 15 euros apiece, cheaper than any other, but that he’d been a fisherman on the isle his whole life and missed it bad, but because of a bum leg had to make his living this way now, and while his horse Murphy was a fine companion there’s nothin’ like the sea when it’s in your blood, and it’s not always like it was today, why often it’s smooth as butter, and see that beach? On a fine summer day you’ll see a hundred people on it, and swimmin’ too, and no clearer and cleaner water will you find, and maybe after a cup of tea we’d change our minds and go for a wee tour with Michael and Murphy?

well, between this and the beguiling way he had of clacking his dentures while he talked, I was putty in his hands. Plus Murphy. But David is made of sterner stuff, and remained resolute, even after lunch when we were feeling fit again and M&M pounced on us. And such a walk I would have missed!

but first lunch- a plain tavern where you help yourself to fruited water and order your food at the bar. Then you sit, and girls with accents recognizably Irish but different enough to be almost unintelligible bring you heavenly hot vegetable soup with divine homemade soda bread and sweet creamy butter, and BLT that defies description, and crispy spicy hot potato wedges with sweet chili sauce and sour cream. I’m not sure, but I fear I moaned aloud a few times during lunch.

after dodging M&M we made our way up to the wonderful and mystifyingly unprotected castle on the hill. Gorgeous, and not so much as a polite sign requesting one to refrain from vandalizing it. I can’t believe it has survived lo these many years of 6x daily ferries full of tourists, let alone the local yout”s.

side note- we encountered several gaggles of girls ala Doc Martin, with bright skin and malicious eyes, clutching lacrosse sticks and freezie pops. Clearly there’s a school on the island, and a bumper crop of pubescent nymphs, but not an adolescent lad to be seen. We think they must ship them out when they hit puberty, like FLDS.

on the far side of the ruined fort we saw the true magic secret of the island. There were hints before we got there. A wall of vertical dry-stacked stone so remarkable and unusual we stopped to take several photos of it. Some picturesque fieldstone-bounded paddocks visible from the sea.

but not until we topped that great hill did we discover that the entire island, probably 2 square miles, is entirely comprised of an intricate labyrinthine mosaic of emerald paddocks bounded in hand-laid unmortared fieldstone.

i don’t think you have to be a farm geek like me to be hogwalloped by the Aran Island walls. Yes, I get a boner over the tractors at the ag shows and moon over vinyl fencing, but these little patchwork gems go beyond FFA wannabe status.

go to my F B and look at the pics. That’s all I’ve got to say. Not all of them. I know I went a little crazy. But I think you’ll agree at least a little that a hand-stacked locally-dug impeccably-crafted beautiful wall is something every yard should have.

I want to live there and watch Jazzie happily munching that lush grass bedotted with brilliant wildflowers with the sea wind blowing her forelock out of her one eye.

well, dears, david has been asleep for an hour and I’m beat. It’s 11:30 pm here and I’m sitting at my big window looking out over the field of wild flowers in front of the Manor, which I can see because daylight hasn’t quite faded and a fat moon is up. I’m tempted to go wander in it, but I want my bath, and I haven’t uploaded today’s photos yet, and I’m going to have to talk about the Cliffs of Moher another time.

did they use the C of M in The Princess Bride? Cuz they should have. They are truly the Cliffs of Insanity, and they want to kill us all. But that’s a tale that will have to wait.

Good night, dears!

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Posted June 6, 2017 by suzmuse in Uncategorized

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