On the one hand, now that my time is my own again and internet is cheap and supah-fast, one would think that I would be more diligent about updating my blog. One would THINK. But a lot of places I am staying just give free internet, but only for a short while, so I have fallen a bit behind. Whoops!
Anyway, on Friday morning, I hopped on a bus and headed from Cork to Galway, all the way on the west coast. Its a small town, even smaller than Cork, but just as adorable and cute and loveable, so of course I am charmed and just as happy as I have been the whole time in Ireland. All Irish cities (perhaps by law? I am not sure) are on a river -Dublin is on the Liffey, Cork on the Lee and Galway is no exception, on the Corrib, and do not ask me how to pronounce that. But it's also on the Atlantic, and has this fantastic park with a bike and running path along a marshy coastline that may be permanently overcast and grey, to preserve the awesome, broody moorish quality to the place.
Yesterday, though, I left Galway and did a day tour to Connemara. Despite my awesome tour experience, I am still not a huge fan of day tours in general, with the herding off the bus and the chatty tour guides and the spoonfed scenery, but seeing the countryside was also totally worth it. Connemara is totally rural, a glacier landscape of peat bogs and lakes (or 'loughs' here, adorably) and teeny little villages where people still peak Irish. I loved it. It was like seeing the Ireland out of Brigadoon, only with blissfully 100% less singing. We also saw the most beautiful nunnery/castle/boarding school on the planet, Kylemore Abbey, that was completely breathtaking. I didn't go in, because I am honestly feeling a little impressive-religious-sited out, but wandering the grounds was enough.
And that brings us to today, with more pretty. I think the only thing better than a clear, beautiful, sunny, blue-sky day in Ireland is one coming on the middle day of a three-day weekend. Tomorrow is a Bank Holiday Monday (no actual holiday that I can see, bank are just closed? I don't know. It's a three-day weekend.) and today was spectacular weather - welcome June! So I, along with many Galway-ians took a bus along the coast (which, I stand corrected, today was so blue and white it could pass for tropical, and not broody at all) to the ferry terminal, and then took a ferry across to Inishmor, the largest of the Aran Islands. A lot of people come for day trips, but I am here for a couple of days, so I hope the weather holds.
In case, though, I rented a bike for both days, and I decided to take in the island. It's gorgous here, but in a different way even than Connemara - I don't even know if I can describe it, really. There are so few who live here, and the islands are pretty removed, so it just feels isolated, even when I am not on my own on a wonky bike on a non-road. The landscape is pretty barren in parts,covered with some short grass but that's about it. And the hillsides in one direction fall in sheer cliffs to the ocean. Add to that the fact that the countryside is divided by low rock walls into an uneven grid shape every where I look, even though nothing is actually in most of the pens. It feels a little eerie and otherworldy, and I haven't even seen the ancient Celtic ruins yet - that's for tomorrow.
On the north end of the island - the remote part; I actually almost feel like that's the part where the folks in the 'town' look at at and say, wow, that's really out there - there's this little road that goes up and up, wit fields on either side. Even though it was warm and sunny today, there was a mist coming in from the north that was actually pretty chilly, and it was blowing in to block off the view pretty quickly - it was actually really cool.
Of course, this was also naturally where my wonky bike opted to drop its chain for the third time, and get horribly wedged between the frame, so I spent about 20 minutes trying to free it, and only got mot of it, until a couple stopped and he spent another 10 and finally got it free. Of course it happens on the remote partof the remote island. But at least it wasn't dark.
Anyhow, tomorrow I am going to go some more around the island, see some ruins, and soak in old Cletic culture. I may end up with an Aran sweater to boot. We'll see.