After our second night at Dromoland Castle we had our breakfast (the food there was so good!), packed up, and took a tour of the sculpture garden before calling for our car. Tom, the car parker, gave us some sort of advice but I just smiled and thanked him. I got tired of saying, “What?” See, the Irish speak very quickly and have a heavy accent (I know, I know; over there I’m the one with the accent but I’m writing this so I get to have my way). I’d get about one word in five: “Toy de toy de toy Bunratty, toy de toy de toy, 7 or 8 miles, toy de toy de toy.” Gordon and I would look at each other when we got in the car and ask if either one of us had gotten it. We usually hadn’t. So we programmed Gladys, our phone GPS (her name is a long story), waved good-bye to Tom, followed the road signs that told us to “stay to the left” (they must have a lot of Americans visiting) and drove for the Cliffs of Moher.
It was a lovely day for a drive. I was dressed up in my Irish tweed ruanna and my cap. I think the Irish thought I was nuts because they were bare-headed and wearing normal coats; actually they looked like Bostonians. But I found the ruanna was warmer; it’s like wearing a blanket and it’s lighter than my trench coat (which I only wore when it rained). And the cap kept my head warm.
We managed not to lose our mirrors on any foliage and Gladys got us safely to our destination. Thank God for GPS; the Irish don’t seem to believe in street signs. While I agree that they’re ugly it’s really hard to find your way without them. If we hadn’t had Gladys we’d still probably be scraping our tyres and losing our mirrors while trying to find the tourist spots. But the Cliffs of Moher were worth the drive. We climbed to the top and enjoyed the view. We paid for climb to the top of O’Brien’s Tower so we could see even higher. A trio of women from Nova Scotia asked Gordon to take their picture and they returned the favor. We didn’t stay very long. It was cold and windy and, really, after five minutes of any view I’m ready to go. Example: when we went to the Grand Canyon we looked over the rim for five minutes and said to each other, “Well, that’s nice. What’s next?” Think we have really low attention spans.
We toured the Visitor Center that described the flora and fauna of the area. They also had all the crests of the major Irish families and, low and behold, they had a crest for the Sullivans! I thought I came from a line of barrel makers. Maybe they were noble barrel makers. With the reverence the Irish have for beer I could see that. Gordon got a picture of me with the crest. I have no idea of I have any actual connection to those Sullivans but what the hell, I’ll claim it.
Gladys got us to Galway in a few hours. It takes longer to drive places between the round-abouts and “tyres and mirrors’ difficulties. We got to the G Hotel at about 4, just in time for a nap. The G Hotel was the polar opposite of Dromoland Castle. It was high-tech and the decor was ’70s English Mod–or brothel. Could have gone either way. I found myself humming “Barbarella, Bar Bararella” and snickering. But I really appreciated the bathroom. The bathroom mirrors had heating units that kept them clear and there was plenty of room in the shower. And about Irish showers: we always had plenty of water but the shower heads “came down like gentle rain”. Not a lot of pressure. And I couldn’t remove the shower head to get all those nooks and crannies. But that was minor. We got feather beds which kept us nice and toasty.
We had our nap and drove to downtown Galway for dinner. I was sick of fish so we found an Italian restaurant. I had tortalinni and Gordon had pizza. We initially had the place to ourselves but people trickled in after us. I was tickled when I heard one woman order pasta but specified that “she didn’t want all that garlic. Toy de toy de toy.” Good luck with that. I loved all the garlic.
After dinner we went shopping and got some more sweaters; it’s a lot colder and damper than what we’re used to. Gordon needed to re-stock his sweater drawer anyway and this was a great place to do it. We founded the Spanish Arches and listened to the street musicians. Galway is a great place for musicians. It was a lovely evening.
The next morning we had breakfast (included!) in the hotel dining room decorated with purple plush banquettes and huge mirrors–see above comment about 70s Mod. Then we went back downtown and took a ‘hop-on, hop-off’ bus tour. We got into a conversation with the bus driver/tour guide. He told us he spent time in Orange County with relatives in the winter. He thought it was a great place to play golf. He also told us he went to Germany during St. Pat’s once and was surprised to see Irish bands performing Irish tunes in Bavaria. He was told (in Germany!) that everyone is Irish on St. Pat’s. He said, “We’d never celebrate anybody else’s holiday here!” I told him it was probably an American thing that other people adopted and he agreed. He sang songs and told me the song was just for me. I said he probably said that to all the girls. He was a hoot. When the tour finally started he took us to Salthill and the Claddagh area. We got an overview of the history of the town. I really enjoyed it. The we toured the Galway Cathedral which was partially funded by the Boston Diocese, I think they said. A mosaic of JFK praying was on the wall of one of the side chapels. It was an impressive cathedral. When we drove out the security guard asked where we were going. I said, “To the pub!” He asked if he could come and we all laughed.
But I was serious so we headed to the Tigh Fox pub where Gordon took a picture of me with my pint of Guiness at the bar. And I took a picture of him with his Coke. I enjoyed the time off my feet. Then we went shopping again–just looking this time–and had dinner at another pub (can’t remember the name). I had a lamb burger and Gordon had an excellent Shepard’s Pie. The couple next to us told us that they’d driven Route 66 from Arizona to CA and enjoyed every trip to the States they’d taken. I have to say that we ran into the friendliest people! And they all had stories to tell about their visits to the States. I was relieved to learn that my ear was getting attuned to the accent. No more saying, “What.”
We listened to more music and went back to the bordello to sleep. We had to pack up and program Gladys for the next leg. The next morning after a good breakfast and one last tour of the Strand to admire the boats we left for Newgrange.