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Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Famine tower
Some vacations are all about sightseeing.  Some are about laying about.  This trip has been the best of both.  Following my half day of riding about the countryside, I felt totally betrayed by my thighs.  Yes, I am in pretty good shape for the shape I'm in, but that muscle that runs down the front of your thighs had not been called upon for way too long.  The best I could manage for the next three days was falling into chairs, asking Mike to pull me out of chairs and praying that my right knee would hold.  I now understand what the grab bars are for in bathrooms.

Fortunately, my screaming thighs did not interrupt our cocktail hour or my enjoyment of Mary's creative kitchen skills.  On the nights that we stayed in, our evening would begin with a cocktail and a tray of local cheeses to be tasted. There was Wexford blue, creamy Gorgonzola, and several different varieties of brie.  After our first cocktail, Mary would start effortlessly putting things out on the table and, before you knew it, dinner was ready.  I learned that a bacon sandwich is not fully dressed without a healthy smear of raspberry jam.  but, most nights we went into town for our dinner, making our restaurant choices with the help of Fodor's and Trip Advisor.  And, man oh man, does Dingle have fabulous fish and sea food!  I will need to re-up my Weight Watcher's membership as soon as we get home.

Mike had been reading about the Blasket Islands, following our trip to the Blasket Center a few days earlier, and Friday we decided to take the four hour Eco-Tour to see them up close.   The Grievous Angel is able to take about sixteen passengers out to sea for the four hour tour, leaving each morning from  Dingle Harbour.  The course that we took follows the western coastline past the places we had driven to earlier in the week.  We passed Ventry Bay, Slea Head and the western most landfall of all of Europe as we cut through the waves on a heading to Great Blasket.  We navigated through dozens of small islands made up of nothing put volcanic peaks that rose up out of the ocean.  We saw waves of puffins as they soared up the shear faces of rocks that lifted straight out of the sea.  As we neared Great Blasket, we slowed to a few knots to allow the engines to run quietly.  This allowed us to crawl close to shore and enjoy the grey seals as they sun bathed along the beach and rocks or popped up and down, out of the surf to have a closer look at us.  At first, you are straining your eyes to catch a glimpse of even one seal.  But, once you see their human sized heads pop up in the surf, you become aware of them everywhere you look.  They really do look like a synchronized swimmer in her brunette bathing cap, prepping for the Olympics , popping up and then sliding straight back down into the sea.  And, we saw the paths that the last island residents walked as they left their homes for good in 1953.

Cathedral Rock
As we drew past Great Blasket, we headed to the far side of the island and on to more unnamed rocks that just sit out in the Atlantic Ocean.  There are formations where German U-boats hid during WWII.  But, the most surprising rock was only recently charted and has been named Cathedral Rock.  It is a huge formation that sits off the end of a rock island and is connected to the main rock by two natural bridges, forming perfect cathedral windows.  Breathtaking.  What a wonderful way to spend four hours at sea.

Saturday we packed up and headed to Labasheeda and Mary's house.  But, I am leaving off the missing member of our group.  On our trip to Ireland three years ago, we had met Mary's husband, Bruce.  And, now his absence was really felt in our threesome.  Being a wonderful Father, he had headed off to the new world a few months earlier to help their daughter in a major building project.  As can happen with construction, Bruce had had to stay much longer than originally planned.  So, we had to carry on without him.  This has been a huge disappointment for us (and Mary, for sure) so we will be forced to return.

It was wonderful to see Labasheeda again.  Mary and Bruce have been working
to restore an old building that had been a combination residence and shop before the roof went missing many years ago.  They have taken a huge stone building and have restored, rebuilt, rewired, re floored, re plumbed and added on.  It's still a work in progress, but you can feel the magnificence that it will become.  Since our last visit, Bruce has extended the back of the house, creating what will be a kitchen, dining and sitting area and a wrap around deck.  All this looks out over the Shannon River.  You can now sit inside or out and watch the small freighters and sail boats silently slip past, or the occasional dolphin swim by as the tide constantly changes the shore line.

Yes.  Mary cooked.  One night neighbors dropped in and stayed for an impromptu sandwich dinner party.  The next night she cooked and I tried to memorize what she did.  We had lamb and roast potatoes.  On our last night, Mary made the ultimate Irish boiled dinner.  I learned about putting an apple in the water with the meat.  I learned about mashed veg, colcannan and steamed potatoes.  The girl is a wonder to behold.

Quin Abbey

Bunratty Castle

Monday we took a little side trip to Quin to visit an old Abbey and do a bit of sight seeing.  Then today we packed up and Mary drove us to Galway, via Bunratty Castle.  It was hugs, kisses and promises to plan another holiday when we can be four instead of three.  Bruce is all that was missing from the Dingle and Labasheeda legs of Mike's and my excellent trip.


Anonymous said...

Breakfast was too quiet. No one did the dishes. I have no plans for the day. I don't care if my shirt isn't fresh. Come back, little Sheeba.
Had a really excellent time. Bruce says Hi and offers a kiss and manly shake, and agrees that you'd both be most welcome, any old time. Love, Mary

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