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?

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

More of Ireland...Clifden and Louisburgh...Photos and Videos.

"The big difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs a lot less." ~ Brendan Behan

No comment on the quote above. It's yours to interpret however you like. It's a fine quote.

After Inis Oirr, the next two places we went to were Clifden and Louisburgh. We returned to Galway, where we picked up a rental car from Budget. AAA had helped me arrange for this car, which I truly appreciated. AAA was very helpful with travel insurance, the car rental, and questions about money..i.e., Euros. Ok, we got the car from Budget, without the extra insurance they wanted to sell us. In hindsight, I probably should have gotten it considering the conditions of the roads. I did end up buying a wheel cover and getting the rim fixed at a Nissan dealership in Ennis, Ireland. Probably much cheaper than what Budget would have charged me. Next time in Ireland, I'll take the wheel covers off the rims and store them in the car, to be put on after we're done with the car. Consider that tip #1 in renting a car in Ireland. Actually, tip #1 is to video the car as soon as you get it, so it's date-stamped as proof of what it looked like when you got it.

After loading our luggage into the Nissan Micra, we headed to Clifden. The roads were quite different than what I was used to in the U.S. More narrow with barely a shoulder, even the bigger roads.  I was very happy to be driving a small car!  In the picture below, the road is as narrow as you think it is.
A road outside of Clifden on the way to the beach.  80km is about 50mph.

 But the views along the coast were spectacular when I could move my head far enough to either side to look.  Mostly, my focus was straight ahead trying to keep on the left side of the road.  As I became accustomed to driving on the left side, I was able to turn my head more to see what I'd been missing.  Eileen would see something and tell me to look and my view would be frozen on what was directly in front of me.  That's what I meant when I stated in a previous post that the hardest part of driving on the left side of the highway was the concentration I had to exert. Clifden is a tourist town.  Plain and simple.  All the stores were geared towards tourists and I heard a lot of French and German whilst there. 
Main street in Clifden.
 Lowry's was the pub to go to for traditional Irish music and Tuesday nights were the nights to go there.  We got to Clifden, and Lowry's, on Tuesday, so a session was in the cards.  Eileen didn't bring her fiddle, but the B&B we stayed at was only a few minutes walk from Lowry's.  About 11:20pm, Eileen decided it was time to go get her fiddle.  The session was jumpin' and she fit right in.  That's where we met Isabella and Yves from France..they'd moved to Letterfrack, Ireland, from France because, after coming to Ireland so often and learning the music/culture, they felt more at home in Ireland than France.  Very nice people.  Eileen also met an accordian player, but I didn't get his name.  This was Eileen's second session in Ireland and, once again, she got compliments on her fiddle playing.  She was happy.

Lowry's...great pub with some fun music.

Next day in Clifden, we headed to the beach and hung out...actually got a might sunburned there.  Blue sky, sunny, and a warm day.  No sessions that night in Clifden.

View from the restaurant where we had dinner in Clifden.
Our adventure the next day began as a cloudy, sometimes rainy day.  We headed north/northeast out of Clifden to Louisburgh, where there was going to be a 4 day traditional Irish music festival and we were scheduled there for the next 4 days.  Yeehaa!  The trip via the valley of the Twelve Bens where the scenery was spectacular.  We drove past the only fjord in Ireland and through Letterfrack and Leenane.  Places that we want to stay at the next time we're in Ireland.  Leenane is the last town in Co. Galway before entering Co. Mayo.  Sea weed salt baths are the specialty in Leenane.  We will be back there.  Fabulously beautiful and a small village with several pubs.  I can see me hanging out there for a few days or so sippin' a pint or three of the plain.  And soaking.  Below is a photo of Kylemore Abbey and a video of the walled garden there.  Amazing...definitely a tourist place but worth the visit.
Kylemore Abbey outside of Letterfrack.


Next town, Louisburgh.  What a quaint town.  Really just a crossroads village, but with several pubs and more than a few good restaurants and a grocery store.  This is what we'd planned our vacation in Ireland around...the Feile Chois Cuain.  We stayed at the Springfield House in Louisburgh, which was just a few minutes walk to every thing in town.  Clare Kenney is the owner and she's quite a nice host, I might add.  As in my family, she "slagged" me a bit from the minute we met.  "Slagging" means gentle, humorous teasing.  
Eileen warming up next to the peat fire in the fireplace at The Springfield House in Louisburgh.
I'll let  you guess where we were when I took this photo.
 There were several regular attendees at The Springfield House, too....Mike, Patsy, Maeve, Michael...who became breakfast partners while we were there.  Mike and Patsy are regular festival goers...they usually attend 32 festivals during the year and are quite versed on their music and musicians.  Mike is 69yrs old and walks 7 miles a day, regardless of weather or whether he's been out until 5a.m. listening to musicians, which he did and still did his walk!  Next night, he got in at 4a.m. and did his walk.  He was in great shape.  Patsy is the socializer...he's even more social than I am.  He lives outside of Ennis...and we met up with him the following Tuesday at Brogan's in Ennis.  He was excited about Wednesday night at Brogan's ... he was to meet up with several women from America that he'd met a few years before in Ennis.  He had a BIG smile on his face while he was telling me this.

The music in Louisburgh was fabulous.  Now, I'm not a connoisseur of traditianal Irish music by any stretch of the imagination, but this was good, even to me.  Eileen had several opportunities to play in several sessions over the four days, which she enjoyed immensely.  We met up with Antoin MacGabhann (pronounced Antoin Magowen).  What a nice man.  Truly a gentle spirit with a gift of fiddle playing.  While out to dinner one night, we also had the pleasure of meeting his daughter, Bernadette, a musician in her own right.  Mike, Patsy, and Antoin all told Eileen that the Feile Chois Cuain was the best festival in Ireland to attend for music and not be overwhelmed by the number of people there.  It was small but lots of really good musicians showed for this festival.  We met up with Dierry (pronounced Thierry) from Belgium, who, like Isabella and Yves, had moved to Ireland as soon as his kids were in college.  His wife and he sold everything and moved to Ennis.  He is a very good traditional Irish fiddler and goes to as many festivals as he can.  While fiddling, he rarely drinks more than tea because he says the pint of plain interferes with his music.

L to R: Eileen, John Kelly (back to the camera), Dierry, Antoin (back to the camera)...first night in Louisburgh.
While in Louisburgh, we also got to see a display about the Famine, which will break your heart when you read what happened, how it happened, and, worse, why it happened.  We also got to find out about Grace O'Malley, the female Irish pirate.  Kitty O'Malley, related to Grace via her husband, re-opened the exhibits for us, since it had closed for the day, and let us see the video about Grace O'Malley and the Famine exhibit.  If I disliked the English before seeing this exhibit, I disliked them even more after seeing it.  Because of the English policies on free trade, 1 million Irish died while the amount of food being traded annually to Europe from Ireland was enough to feed 4 times as many Irish who died.  Truly, what bastards.
Eileen, Dierry, Antoin...the last day in Louisburgh.
On Friday, the first full day in Louisburgh, Eileen and I drove to Westport, where Matt Molloy of The Chieftains fame lives.  We encountered the funeral procession for his daughter, Claire Kavanagh nee Molloy, 33yrs. old, who recently died of breast cancer, as had his wife, Geraldine Molloy, 5yrs earlier.  Seemed like a suitable day ... overcast, rainy...dreary for a funeral.  While we didn't get to stay long in Westport, we did put it on our list of cities to visit/stay during our next visit.
Matt Molloy's pub in Westport.  The funeral procession walked past, and stopped in front of, the pub.
City center in Westport.

All in all, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in Louisburgh and will be back, hopefully, for the music festival and to stay at The Springfield House once again.

Now, a tune to exit with...John Sr., John Jr., and James Kelly of Clare...we saw John Kelly, Jr. in Louisburgh and Eileen got to play in a session with him (see photo farther up).