2011 UK and Ireland travel blog

Entrance to the Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs to the South

The Cliffs to the North

The Castle at the Cliffs

Our next door neighbour's family store - ha! ha!

The Clew Bay Hotel

Moving north and west from Limerick today we are now in the little seaside village of Westport or more lyrically in Gaelic Cathair na Mart. Every Irish place name has a Gaelic as well as an English title. We have heard Gaelic spoken we think, and there is an exclusive Gaelic television channel. Speaking of television channels and TV in particular the skyline in all of Ireland and for that matter much of Wales and England is like a flashback to the 1950s and 1960s. TV antennas are the norm, it seems that like air conditioning cable television is unknown over here. And while I am ranting, outside of the one in Dublin there are no Starbucks in Ireland. I am in severe withdrawal anxiety for nowhere is there to be found a decent cup of coffee. To my everlasting dismay and disgust I truthfully saw some twit walking around in Cork with a Tim Hortons! No Starbucks but Tim Hortons, the apocalypse must be upon us. Our car, a very reliable and for over here rather large Vauxhall runs on diesel and diesel is anywhere from 7 to 12 cents a litre cheaper than gasoline. Prices fluctuate constantly, a litre of petrol (gasoline) is about 1.48 to 1.60 euros, a euro being about a buck forty. The absolute amazing aspect about driving in Ireland is obviously the narrowness of the roads. Even the national highways have no shoulders, the hedgerows or stone walls are right up against the left hand side of the car, causing Joan endless anxiety attacks. Often I think that there is no way possible for two cars to pass on these roads: a two lane highway in Ireland is at maximum one and a half lanes in Ireland with no shoulders. It gets so very interesting when one of the innumerable busloads of Germans approaches in the opposite direction. These are no more than what we would consider country lanes but the usual speed limit is 80 km and very often 100 km. These narrow winding roads with Paddy flying past even faster makes what is left of my hair stand straight up in astonishment. So far I have not lost the driver's side view mirror, nor dislodged another. Not much rain today but very nice and pleasant cool autumn temperatures. Just when we thought Ireland could not be more beautiful and stunning we today visited The Cliffs Of Moher. Just at the beginning of Galway Bay and across from the remote and rugged and legendary Aran Islands these cliffs are beyond accurate description. Google The Cliffs Of Moher to touch upon that to which I cannot give true justice in words. Again the winds from the wild Atlantic blow hard here, moreso than the other places we have been. It is quite an experience to have to walk into a wind with your head a foot ahead of your feet, and away from the wind with the opposite applied. Truly remarkable, The Cliffs Of Moher are one of the finalists for voting the new Seven Wonders Of The World. From there it was into an area known as The Burren just below Galway Bay. Here are tall barren hills with stone fences going straight up the mountainside, over the peak and down the mountainside. Down twisting narrow Corkscrew Hill bordered on both sides by two massive rolling hills of long ago quarried slate in stepped terraces. We lunched in a village pub in the little hamlet of Kinvara just south of Galway city. This being Sunday the pub's patrons were good sons taking their Mums for dinner; a social gathering with families with children which is quite common in Irish pubs. We are really out in the Irish country now. County Mayo, where the pace is very slow and so relaxed, the people charming and friendly. Our hotel the Clew Bay Hotel is one of those village hotels updated and down to earth. After the walk to The Cliffs Of Moher and the excellent pub dinners we had, Mother was done for the day. Now for all of you who have travelled in the USA, you know what I mean about "American portions" regarding meals. Well they pale when compared to Irish portions. Joan's dinner of turkey, ham and mashed potatoes was accompanied with a side dish of Irish root vegetables of parsnip, turnip, and carrots. Mother's roast beef and gravy and mashed potatoes had the same. Alas I cowarded out on a massive plate of fish and chips. In Westport Joan & I went down to the little pub to watch with the local folk the final of The All Ireland Gaelic Football Championship between Dublin and Kerry County. Over several pints of Guinness Stout and Smithwick's Ale we soaked in the real vibrant Irish atmosphere. Crowded with the variety of locals all were "shouting" for Dublin. Kerry is like the Montreal Canadiens. A long history of winning, a dominating team and having eliminated the local team in the semi-finals: hated, reviled and detested. Any Vancouver Canuck fan would relate immediately to this situation. We enjoyed ourselves immensely and watched the entire game. Gaelic Football is a cross between rugby and soccer with no tackling or scrum. Non stop action and highly entertaining, easy to understand, a real appealing game of skill and technique. The final was in Dublin with the stadium filled with 82,000 fans. In an astonishing last-few-minutes-left comeback Dublin pulled off a victory sending the patrons of our pub into uncontrolled exclamations of celebratory joy. Now Joan & I were kind of partial to Kerry having spent the last few days in County Kerry and witnessing the flags of that team everywhere, but of course we were flexible enough to join the celebration. For the evening, with the sun going down we walked about the lovely quaint village, enjoying so much as we strolled hand in hand enjoying just the simple delight of being here. A grand day indeed, a quiet evening now. Some pints in our room...life is beautiful. Steve & Joan & Patricia say goodnight to all.

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