Sunday, 2 September.
Today was to be another family day, as we were to drive to Galway and spend the day with our niece, Liz, and her family. For a while, though, it looked as though we would be lucky to even leave Bunratty. Over breakfast, we met another Australian couple and we spent a lot of time swapping travel tales. Then our lovely hostess, Mary, joined us and we ended up talking about a whole range of things. Mary must have kissed the Blarney Stone a few dozen times, as she could really chat and make everything she talked about interesting. Several times we tried to take our leave and she would say "I'll just tell you one more thing..."! At last, though, we escaped, although it would have been easy to spend the day sitting at the table drinking tea and chatting with Mary. Highly recommend "Rocklands" B&B, if you are ever staying in Bunratty.
The drive up to Co Galway was easy, although as we entered the "Gaeltacht" (the area of Ireland where Gaelic is designated as the primary language), reading road signs became harder as they were only in Gaelic and our map was in English.... Luckily, the places we wanted to be were familiar enough and people we spoke to were more than happy to help. Pretty soon, we were in Liz's village of Spiddal (An Spidael) and reacquainting ourselves with Toner and the children.
This was family time, so not too much detail for this website, but I have to say that this is an exceptionally beautiful part of the country. We took a drive along the coast to Carraroe, which has the only coral beach in Ireland. It was rather strange to see the red and yellow of the lifesaver service on an Irish beach, as we have only ever previously seen it in Australia. We then took a drive to the craft centre in Spiddal and listened, fascinated as everyone - the children included - switched easily and casually between English and Gaelic. After (more) shopping, we went to a nearby pub for dinner. Padraigian's Place is right on a lovely beach that overlooks Galway Bay and across to Co Clare. It was a beautiful setting as the sun finally made an appearance for the day and the meal was typically generous in size.
After dinner, we all went off to Tigh Hughes (Hughes' Pub) in Spiddal for an evening of music. This was not a hired band, but more in the Irish tradition of a few local musos getting together for a bit of a jam. Toner was one of the three fiddlers that also included Charlie Lennon, a very famous musician in Ireland. For a couple of hours, we were treated to some fantastic music! For Angela and me, it brought back great memories of being children on holiday in Ireland and being part of an impromptu party at a country pub. For Marie, it was just what she imagined an evening in a real Irish pub would be like. As they say here, "the craic was mighty!".
Until next time, "slán abhaile". Marie, Angela and Ray.