Cycling Along The Way...

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Silver City, NM, United States
Riders of the wheel. Racers, Roadies, Mountain bikers, Touring cyclists, Commuters, and others. Diamond frames, recumbents, trikes, and more. Sharing a web of connections often misunderstood or unappreciated by those who don't ride. Herewith, my attempt to share some of the more rational thoughts that flit around inside my head while bicycling, knocking back a brew or three, or just thinking about life. Reviews of bicycles, gear, touring, and more, plus some unsolicited posts about people, politics, and philosophy. Other things, too. Me: retired, gave up my TV in 1988, avid cyclist, several cross country tours completed with more to come. Your thoughts?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

IRELAND...More Of The Story With Photos And Videos

"I have never seen a situation so dismal that a policeman couldn't make it worse." ~ Brendan Behan

Now, before anyone goes off halfcocked here, I used this quote because it's something I heard my Dad say often...and he was a police officer in Glens Falls, NY.  Hilarious that someone else thought the same thing.  The comment I remembering hearing the most from my Dad about fellow police officers was, and I'm quoting him here, "If you want to fuck up traffic, put a cop in the intersection."  Yes, he used the F-bomb.  Very infrequently, unlike me, but that word did cross his lips periodically.

Ok, on Sunday, 4/28/13, we headed to Inis Oirr via Galway by bus, initially, from Dublin.  The first two days in Dublin were blue sky and sunny, but the day we left was overcast with rain.  Typical Irish weather, I'm told.  Citylink was the bus company we used.  Acomfortable 2 hr and 45 minute ride through the countryside, which looked familiar, something like the mid-west and a little like Vermont and other parts of New England.  No wonder those Irish immigrants felt at home in the Northeast.  It wasn't even a change of scenery for them.  At the bus depot in Galway, we had to spend 20 cents to use the bathrooms.  Keeps the derelicts out???  Fortunately, that was the only place where we had to pay to pee.  From the depot, we headed to the Aran Island Tours office and found out where/when the shuttle to the ferry left from Galway.  Then we walked around Galway.  Since it was a Sunday, lots of folks were out and about despite the iffy weather.  Temps were in the high 40's.  Galway has an area reminiscent of the Temple Bar District in Dublin, but smaller with fewer people.  As tourists are wont to do, we stores being our favorite places...and Eileen drooled over a few pieces of jewelry.  I just soaked up all that was around me.  What I noticed in Dublin and here in Galway was the overwhelming presence of French and German speakers.  Travel in the European Union is quite affordable and those countries are economically better off than Ireland.  Sadly, suicide is a prime issue in Dublin among the younger crowd.  I was told it was due to unemployment and alcoholism.  For the 15-29 year olds, unemployment in 2012 was 32%.  So much for the success of the imposed austerity budget on Ireland by the European Union (Cameron in England derailed England's economic recovery by instituting an austerity budget there.).  In Dublin, in the Temple Bar District, fireman were out collecting money as they frequently do here in the U.S. on holiday weekends.  But, instead of collecting money for charities, they were collecting money for suicide prevention programs.  Incredible.  Ok, enough of that.

The Aran Island shuttle took us to Rossaveal where we got on the ferry to Inis Oirr (Means east view. The locals call it Inis Thiar.)  The ocean was a bit choppy and my sea legs are a bit rusty, but I didn't seem to have a problem with sea sickness or naseau.  At least, not this time.  It was a small craft that took us to Inis Mor and Inis Oirr.  Inis Oirr is the smallest of the three Aran islands and more remote than the other two.  On the island, there were three pubs, a store, a cafe, a small hotel, an airstrip for flights from near Galway, two shops, and a beach.  It was on Inis Oirr that I saw what I think Ireland use to look like...and I was overcome with emotions and tears.  I thought about how much we owe to this country as a family and that my Mom would have loved being here, but she wouldn't have like the boat ride over.  Here are a few photos from the boat ride over and of the island.
Eileen very happy to be on the water.
The view out our bedroom window at Radharc an Chlair B&B.  Rock walls built hundreds of years ago and the Cliffs of Moher.
Another view of the walls and the Cliffs.
The Cliffs of Moher upclose.

A view of the small village and dock where the ferries come and go.
The population on the island is about 300 and all the locals speak Irish.  Others refer to the language as Gaelic but it is called Irish in Ireland.  Roads, paved and dirt, run all over the island, which is the smallest and most eastern of the three Aran islands in the Galway Bay.  It is an extension of The Burren.  Here's a video outside of our B&B.  Where you see Eileen walking is a ROAD.  Yes, cars drive on these.  What they do when two vehicles encounter each other coming from both directions is a very good question.  No speed limit is posted that I saw.

Eileen and I enjoyed Inis Oirr more than any other place we visited in Ireland.  Next time, we'll head directly to Inis Oirr for a week to adjust to the time zone changes and to relax.  The island has all that you'd need for a good time...good food, good places to walk and hike, and good traditional Irish music.  Had the best lamb stew that either of us have ever had on this island.  Food was very good here.  The walled areas are where the local farmers keep sheep, cattle, and horses, plus raise crops.  Rock walls are everywhere on this island and, while they look identical, they are all different and hand built with rocks dug up from the landscape surrounding them.  No cement or other type of adhesive is used..just the weight and shape of the rocks hold them together.  Similar to the rock walls I've seen throughout New England.  The weather here was cold and a bit rainy the first night, but the day we spent there was sunny, but cool.  People were very friendly, always looked at us, said hello and asked how we were doing...unlike Dublin and Galway.  The following video shows the ruins of a building on the island, the village, and, in the background, Inis Mor, the second largest of the three islands.
One last video, from the tourist area of Galway, before we headed to Inis Oirr, of some local musicians busking there.  I was impressed with two of the players...playing their instruments while balanced on top of a metal post.  Threw some euros in their case for that alone.
Enough?  I think so.  A tune to exit this post with...Liz and Yvonne Kane, sisters from Letterfrack, Co. Galway.  We drove through this little town on our way from Clifden to Louisburgh.  A French couple, Yves and Isabella, whom we met at Lowry's in Clifden at a session that Eileen played in, moved to Ireland after years of coming to visit and play traditional Irish music live in Letterfrack, also.  They said they didn't feel part of the French community anymore and were more aligned with the Irish, so they sold everything and moved to Ireland.  Isabella plays bango and Yves plays the concertina.  Back to the Kane sisters, Eileen met them at the traditional Irish music camp, Friday Harbor, several years ago where she took fiddle classes with them.  Here's a tune from them including some Paddy Fahey's ok if you don't know who this guy is.  I don't either.  He's a very well known traditional Irish fiddler who has never recorded any of his tunes, which aren't titled and are known by a numbering system created  by someone else.  Go figure.  Good music despite no names.  A few more posts and I'll be done with our trip to Ireland.  Again, I'll try not to bore y'all to death.