Sunday, 9 September 2012

Ennis to Dublin

Cliffs of Moher
Our morning started in spectacular fashion at the Cliffs at Moher. In misty rain, the highest vertical cliffs in Ireland rose from the Atlantic north of Hoggs Head, a dramatic rude ending to green pasture. It was easy to imagine that mystical creatures and people have risen to legendary status in the face of such brutal physical features. As the Atlantic pounded their feet, they stood defiant, staring back with anger.

Most of our group retreated to the dryness of the cafe built into rocky hillside but a few of us remained to feel the wildness of this place; to know something of it untamed existence which can be examined by men but never controlled. It reminded me of the vast and frighteningly immense  gorges of the Kimberley and made me feel as small, but the privilege of the experience countered that readily enough.

For a third day, we hugged the shoreline on narrow roads, at one stage being face to face to another coach. Unable to pass, we reversed a hundred metres or so and and into the thinnest of extra space so we could pass, the exterior mirrors kissing as we did.

We stopped on The Burren, an area where the parent limestone has no top spoil and the only plants eke an existence in joint cracks in the rock. Its another wild place, swept by wind and sea spray and often referred to - inaccurately - as a lunar type landscape.

The Spanish Arch at Galway
On to Galway for lunch, having seen the beautiful Galway Bay on the way in. We walked down to the Spanish Arch - part of an old wall to hold the Spanish out - and along the way listened to a music festival from across the narrowest end of the bay. Hard to believe we have gone to the other side of the planet to hear country music floating across the water. Apparently, Australian country music is loved in the western parts of Ireland. As convincing a reason for an Irish working holiday for the likes of Sally-Ann Whitten. We felt compelled to visit another pub for lunch, particularly as I am developing what is called in Ireland as "The Thirst".

After lunch it was a two hundred kilometre run from the west coast to the east and two nights in Dublin, Ireland's capital and a visit to the Royal Palace at St James Gate - otherwise referred to by non-subjects as the Guinness Storehouse. The dinner was average, the view would have been spectacular but for the fact their wasn't much to see and the free Guinness was well received.

There is a story, not told until now but one which continues to plague Sue. It harks back a few days to Peter's Eve, the day before my birthday. In a shop which specialised in woollen jumpers from the Aran Islands, we had purchased some treats for the children when my eyes fell on a black woolen cape with a golden yellow lining. It came with a silken golden scarf with a Irish traditional pattern. Having been told to look for a present for myself and told it  was totally my choice, my selection was vetoed by Sue on the basis of cost.

I reminded her that night, perhaps a little to readily within earshot of others, that the cape would have cost less than her leather handbag, purchased in Aix-en-Provence, which is now safely back in Australia.

The rest of the coach has reminded her ever since.

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