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, June 1, 2013

ENNIS...Last Post On Ireland

"I have a total irreverence for anything connected with society, except that which makes the road safer, the beer stronger, the old men and women warmer in the winter, and happier in the summer." ~ Brendan Behan

Final post on our trip to Ireland.  Going from Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, to Ennis, Co. Claire.  As a fiddler, Eileen has been striving for two things: to learn the Co. Claire style of traditional Irish fiddling and to sound like the old fiddlers of Ireland, who are disappearing rapidly.  Since arriving in Ireland and getting to play in some sessions in  several cities, Eileen has gotten several compliments on her playing, which has been a real boost for her.  An affirmation, if you will, of the efforts she's put forth to learn traditional Irish fiddling.  Watching her play and seeing the others listen or play along with her, I could see they enjoyed what she was doing and adding to the sessions.  I was happy for her...and proud, too.  She puts in many hours of practice daily and to see it pay off by the compliments she received was a real joy for her.

The festival in Louisburgh officially came to an end on Monday, May 6th, but there were sessions going on starting at 12 noon, so we stopped in on a few and Eileen played in one more session. 
Eileen is listening in for a bit before she joined in.  Seated next to her is Isabella from France who now lives in Letterfrack, Co. Mayo, with her husband, Yves.
A common sight in the pubs...kids...which I loved.  Here two girls are listening to the session in Louisburgh.
After leaving that sesssion to head back to the Springfield House, we ran into Antoin and Dierry at the pharmacy.  We were happy to see them to say our good-byes.  Done with that, we got back to the B&B where the car was.  It was packed up and we headed to Ennis.  Back on the left side of the road again.  Maybe Willie Nelson could do an Irish version of "On The Road Again"???  Didn't take me long to adapt.  Weather was overcast with intermittent rain/sun.  As we got farther from the coast, heading south, the weather got better...actual blue sky and sun.  It was about 90 miles to Ennis but I got on a major road heading the wrong way with no exit until we were back where we'd been about 20 miles ago.  Had to laugh.  Got headed in the right direction and made it to Ennis.  Once there, I had to call the Railway House B&B to get more specific directions.  Didn't want to run around trying to find it.  On arrival to the B&B, we checked in, dropped our stuff off and walked into downtown Ennis, which was a short 10-15 minute walk away.  It was later in the day, maybe early evening, and most of the shops were closed.  Unlike Clifden, which was very much a tourist town, Ennis was a small city with some touristy aspects, but mostly a city of 20,000.  Good size, plenty of shops, pubs, restaurants, etc.
Entering Ennis.  Narrow street.  Two lanes here, but after the next block, it was a narrow main street.
The section of O'Connell Street that was one lane.
One pub we found....well, take a look at the photo and you'll see why I had to have a pint of the plain there...
Patrick's Public House, Ennis, Co. Claire
The barman/owner got talking to Eileen and I, asking where we were from.  Most people we encountered in Ireland really had no idea where in the States New Mexico was located.  Had to start with California and work my way East to New Mexico being sure to mention that it was south of Colorado.  Those were States people knew about.  Nice pub and, as you can see, fully stocked with kegs of beer.

Ennis is where Patsy O'Grady lives.  He was at the festival in Louisburgh and told us to meet him Tuesday night in Brogan's Pub in Ennis.  Apparently, Patsy is a regular there on Tuesday nights for the traditional Irish music session.

Brogan's Pub

Patsy with some of the women he met a few years ago.  The woman who has her arm around him is cop from Virginia.  I told him to ask her to handcuff him and do what she needed to do to "make him talk".  LOL...
This was posted behind the bar at Brogan's.  The barman loved it when Eileen told him that she grew up in Milwaukee and had closed Wolski's more than once while living there.
Eileen playing in the session at Brogan's Pub in Ennis.
Unfortunately, I don't have any good videos from Brogan's, which is another reason I'm looking for a new video/still camera.  The hunt is on.  After Eileen played a set of tunes, one of the people in the session asked her where she learned how to play.  In the process of explaining, turns out this guy, Eoin O'Neill, knows Randal Bays, who has influenced Eileen quite a bit in learning traditional Irish fiddle music...and turns out he was someone that Randal had asked Eileen to look up in Ennis while we were there.  Small world.  
The two guys on the left were playing the nights we were at Brogan's.  The gentleman second from the left is Eoin O'Neill, the friend of Randal Bays.  He'd taught bouzouki at Friday Harbor Irish Music Camp.
Another photo of Eoin O'Neill, on the right holding the bouzouki.
For Eileen, the really special part of that night was after the session ended...an older gentleman who'd been playing the bodhran spoke to her and told her that she had a "sweet sound" and that she played fiddle like the old fiddlers used to.  WELL, I thought Eileen was going to pee her pants she was so excited over that compliment.  I really think that comment was the high point of the trip for her.

When we weren't in pubs, we were out and about driving in the countryside, me trying to stay on the left side of the road and not hit anything.  One of the places we went to was the Burren, where we saw the Poulnabrone, where there are several stone tombs, where up to 33 people would be buried in one tomb.  Sort of Ireland's Stonehenge.  I kept teasing Eileen, calling it "pull-no-bra".  She didn't laugh...
One of the tombs.  There are over 90 of these scattered throughout the Burren.
 A video...it was windy, as you can hear in the video, and a bit rainy, too.
video
While in the Burren, we stopped at The Burren Perfumery, which was a really cool place that has an incredible herb garden, restaurant, and store, but, as we drove there, the roads kept getting more narrow as I turned off one road to another...until finally we were on a one lane driveway into the place that was the entrance/exit.  So, on encountering another vehicle, we had to maneuver past each other.  Oh, joy...

After our last night in Ennis, at Brogan's again, Eileen played in her last session for this trip.  Next morning, we headed back to Galway, where we took the bus back to the Dublin airport.  From there, we hopped on another shuttle to our hotel for a last night in Ireland.  In the morning, we flew back to Chicago.  On American Airlines again.  This time, the plane was not as crowded and a bit roomier, but the food, while a bit better, is fit only for the garbage can.  What trash food.  American needs to fire whoever it is that makes the decision on food.  Next time we go to Ireland, we will NOT be flying American Airlines.

In Chicago, our flight to Phoenix was delayed about 90 minutes, so we were pretty tired on arrival at Sky Harbor.  Our friend, Bob, picked us up and we headed out to Carlos O'Brien's for some Mexican food and a few margaritas.  Got to Bob's and crashed shortly thereafter around 10pm, which was 6am Dublin time, but was wide awake at 0500 Phoenix time, which was 1pm Dublin time.  On Saturday, we took Bob out for breakfast and we got some good espressos finally....then said adios to Bob and headed out to do some shopping at Trader Joe's, bought a couple of cigars at a smoke shop nearby, and headed home.

While our time there was short, we will be back.  Eileen is working on an application for a Fulbright scholarship, which, if she succeeds, may mean that we'll be spending 6 months there starting in January/2014.  I can do that.  More on that later.

To end our posts on Ireland, here's a video from YouTube of a session at The Cobblestone. Seems only right to end where we started with all of this in Dublin.