Cold, wet, grey but not dull

June 7, 2010


Last night we were piped into dinner by this bagpiper, whose name is Neil. We had forgotten that bagpipers are not exclusive to Scotland.

M. says that the definition of a gentleman is someone who knows how to play the bagpipes, but doesn’t. I must admit, though, that I like the pipes and they certainly added to the ambience here at the Castle.

So did the sparkling Waterford chandeliers in the dining rooms, the golf course that Tiger plays often at (he rents the entire castle) and the tea. I had to start drinking tea because, to my surprise, the coffee was almost tasteless.

We began meeting the 42 others who are on this trip with us last night at dinner. The food was wonderful and so was the company. I had a fabulous halibut and M. had beef, both perfectly prepared. Our traveling companions are all interesting in their own rights. It was a nice evening.

Sleep, however, was elusive.

Monday dawned rainy, humid, cold and grey. I ordered a full Irish breakfast which came with things I just wanted to examine, not eat, such as black & white pudding. Blood pudding is just not my thing. Someone else at our table tried it and said it was tasteless. I wasn’t that brave a heart. Or stomach.

We donned our rain gear and undaunted, headed out by bus to the famous Cliffs of Moher. What’s that? You’ve never heard of them? Us either. They’re a natural cliff formation on the ocean sort of like what we’d see at Big Sur or Mendocino.

On the way, our guide pointed out specially designated fairy trees, where leprechauns meet and hang out. The Irish take their wee people seriously and have managed road and airport construction projects so as to preserve the bushes. On the rare occasion they don’t, those stretches of road have higher accident rates. Yep.

Hold your hands out in front of you, palms down. Does your pinky finger point in toward your hand? If so, you have the ability to talk to leprechauns. M. has it, I don’t.

The Cliffs were a desolate place and we took a wet and windy walk up many stairs to the view point.

I’m unable to load the video right now but I’ll try later. The sound you’ll  hear is the wind. It bordered on unpleasant, but we weren’t going to miss it.

The snail seemed impervious to the weather, slowly making its way through the grass and up the hill. Yes, at a snail’s pace.

We enjoyed the tail wind, knowing that the bluster would be in our faces on the way down, and it was. The castle-like structure is at the top, and that’s me to the left of the doorway, barely visible, wrapped in sweatshirts, raincoat, boots, etc.

Soaked to the skin, we were glad to get on our bus and on to a pub for lunch. I had a delicious poached salmon with pink peppercorn sauce and M. had a warm goat cheese salad and a very rich seafood chowder overflowing with fish.

After lunch, we were exhausted, but rallied to take a short walk to this ancient tomb that was older than the pyramids of Egypt. Originally underground, erosion has exposed a number of these all over the green countryside.

Here in County Clare, the Church was in a bit of tizzy years ago when the drug company, Roche, wanted to build a plant. Jobs were badly needed, but Roche makes birth control pills. No sooner that that blown over, than Pfizer, makers of Viagra, came to town. Neighborhood men insisted that Pfizer was releasing chemicals to the air and claimed they were getting the benefit of the drug without taking the pill. Pfizer was forced to prove the scientific impossibility of this scenario.

A few random facts:

  • Ireland’s the size of Maine.
  • It’s very green.
  • Main Street in Irish towns are always called O’Connell St.
  • Summer days are very long but winter days are so short the sun isn’t seen until after 8a.m. and disappears by 4pm.
  • Gossip is called “craick” and pronounced “crack”, so the question “Got any good craick” is perfectly legitimate.

M and I are going out do some falconry — hawks are going to land on our gloved arms. If the rain doesn’t prevent it, we should have some great photos.

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