Sunday, September 9, 2007

Ireland at last!

September 9, 2007

The first stages are past now and the real journey has begun. This is Kilcolgan, on Galway Bay, not far from Galway city. I arrived here from Shannon at about 6 last night, after a detour through the musical hot spot of Ennis…and a sudden entrapment in a one way (my way!) lane that was probably a fine street 200+ years ago, but was now awash with pedestrians and a cacophony of colour. I believe I stumbled in on a Saturday market day! Goods of all kinds were displayed in booths and on tables, and the surge of crowd ebbed between the shops and in the lanes. After finally finding my cottage at Kilcolgan, an hour further north, I shopped for staples, and headed out the road west from here to Kinvarra, aiming for a sunset and shoreline…100 kmh is the posted speed limit for roads with no shoulder, where hedges or walls race within touching distance of the car ( I still do not “sense” the left side of the car well enough, and hope I’m not accumulating scratches from the foliage!), curves are sharp and blind, and despite my cautious slower speed on the “wrong” side of the road, it was a white knuckle drive, even more so coming back in the dark. But Kinvarra is a place I’ll go back to again soon for the music, perhaps even tonight. Today…I’ll jaunt into Galway city with my one of my new GSI books in hand, “Galway in Stone” which includes a walking tour around Galway of the various stone buildings. In particular, the local stone includes various types of granites, the famous Connemara Marble, and a fossiliferous limestone. A tourist with not only a camera but a hand lens, peering into the stone walls…should amuse someone!


oceana vox said...

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Lahinch, Co. Clare, Ireland

We arrived at the coast yesterday in the teeth of the west wind, where about 100 surfers cavorted in the waves when not patiently waiting out the swells for the next or biggest…hard to imagine full inversion in the ocean of the North Atlantic, but I learn that the water temperature is likely around 15 or 16°C and I convert that mentally to about 60°F…not too bad, though most were wearing wet suits! I will take myself with bathing suit and towel down to the sand and shore at some point this week for a quick jump in the surf, if only to do it and then be able to say I did it! But there is a public aquarium with swimming pool, sauna and Jacuzzi here, so what better way to vanquish the chill?

Yesterday in Kilcolgan dawned clear in a brilliant blue sky but by early afternoon the clouds had layered themselves over all; last night there was rain, but now at noon the sky is opening again and it could be a good day to walk out later in the afternoon.

oceana vox said...

Monday, September 17, 2007…Counties Galway and Clare

Connaught, Connemara, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren…and tomorrow will bring what? Or where? This country is a scenic wonderland! We drive about every other day, hours and kilometers of exploration, sometimes down unmarked one lane roads with high hedges and the ubiquitous blind curves, but the vistas have always been worth it.

Connaught, Co. Galway stopped us over and over again with the lichen-spotted limestone rock walls, going every which direction, dividing and subdividing as far as the eye could see, the hillocky, rolling landscape of every shade of green. Seen live, the eye can make sense of the perspective and distance, but seen through the camera’s eye later, the third dimension loses proportion. Still, I’m pleased with what my camera and computer are doing to help me document this extraordinary journey.

The Connemara, Co. Galway area is, as they said, a near-barren landscape of rounded mountains, glacially sculpted into U-shaped valleys between the “bens”, with small lakes, marshes, and long stretches of peat bog, still being cut and stacked by hand, and transported by trailer or truck. The bog story is an interesting one…

Pictures of the Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare are everywhere and it was easy to see why even then! But out near the edge of the precipice, with the wild north Atlantic waters crashing below, and a fierce wind blowing us over, it was literally breathtaking. My efforts to record the wind in the harp were hopeless; the wind just had its own way with us. Still, we stayed as long as possible till the cold got into the bones and we had to leave as the sun did.

The Burren, Co. Clare is another spectacle. A karst terrain that rolls against the sky with its thick limestone layers and occasional patches of soil and green.