May 3: Had a great breakfast, packed into the car, and headed to the pier where we were boarding a ferry which took us to the Aran Islands. The ride took 1.5 hours with stops at the two smaller islands Inis Oírr (Inisheer) and Inis Meáin (Inishmaan). We were headed for the larger of the three islands called Inis Mór (Inishmore). On the way, we saw a dolphin but it was quite difficult to get a picture of it; however, Tom did.
When we unloaded, we were greeted by our tour guide Oliver Faherty. He drove a van which held 13 people and he grew up on the island (of 7th generation) so was very knowledgeable. As we drove toward the well preserved stone fort called Dun Aonghasa, he pointed out various stone forts, towers, and churches along with a stop at a seal colony. The walk to the fort took about 20 minutes and it was a walk well taken! It is semicircular, on the edge of a perpendicular cliff rising 100 meters out of the ocean. At the bottom of the walk, we had lunch in a small cafe. Once we all loaded into the van, we headed to the Worm Hole which is a rectangular shaped pool into which the sea ebbs flow at the bottom of the cliffs south of Dun Aonghasa. We walked over lots of rocks in order to get to the hole. The Seven Churches was our next stop; it is the remains of two small churches with ruins of late 15th Century monastic houses lying to the north of the church. The day was going quite quickly and we had about 15 minutes at the town center before our ferry appeared.
Loaded and headed back to Doolin. Drove to the nearest pub, O’Connnor’s, where we had libations and dinner; Sarah and I shared fish and chips. Took the car back to the B&B and then walked to Fitzpatrick, a pub that we had not been to before and found a wonderful surprise…Irish music by Tara Howley; the three person band played and sang beautifully. A couple from Florida was willing to share their table so we did not have to stand.
Tom, Sarah, and I walked back about 9:30 while the kids stayed behind to finish their drinks. Another wonderful day in this country!
May 4: After breakfast, we said our good byes to Jeannette and Allan; final destination today is Galway. On the way, we stopped Poulnabrone Dolmen which is a portal tomb even though it looks like a stone table. Four thousand years ago, it was a grave chamber in a cairn of stacked stones. After seeing the tomb, as we were driving along, we came upon the ruins of a church which was sitting on a corner all by itself. There was no one around so there was not much information available about it but Tom at least wrote down the name of it which is more than what I did!
As we continued our journey, we made a rest stop at Ballyvaughan which conveniently had a couple stores we had to look in. Then on to Galway; arrived at the Four Seasons B&B about noon and was greeted by our cheerful host. Once we settled in our rooms, we walked toward the town square. In 1234, Galway was a medieval fishing village captured by the Normans from the O’Flaherty family. Today it has approximately 76,000 people with one out of every four residents being born outside of Ireland. We came upon An Púcán Pub for lunch; I had goat cheese, red peppers, pesto sandwich which was excellent. After lunch, we walked to Eyre Square which is named for the mayor who gave land to the city in 1710. We really did not explore the square but found the pedestrian shopping streets lined with shops, pubs, and market carts. I made one small purchase while the Fosters found a couple things for their grandchildren.
Then it was time to explore the pubs; we went to the Salt House and Monroe’s Tavern which were two recommended by Allan. It was time to eat so, after going into a couple pubs which only served drinks, we found Tig Cóilí…a cozy place…which had something on the menu we all liked. After dinner, we found out that music was being played at Taaffe’s Bar so we found a place to stand and listen; the folks playing were not part of a certain group but individual musicians coming together to “jam”. It was cheerful, lively music and I enjoyed listening but was time to walk back to our B&B and call an end to our day. But not before I ordered an orchid plant to be delivered to Jeannette the next day which is her birthday.