August 22 near Cong, County Mayo
First day Ireland. Staying at B&B in Cong where they filmed The Quiet Man. Unable to find John Wayne. Weather is actually quite lovely 70 F and mostly sunny.
Me: I forgot they drive on the left here.
Me: they drive on the left.
He: Here’s a map. Figure out where we’re going.
Me: No GPS?
Me: I’ll figure it out.
He: Oh no a roundabout.
Me: Go straight.
Me: That way (pointing)
He: Don’t point. Tell me.
Me: Ok go straight.
That’s pretty much the way it’s gone so far
Day 1 into Day 2
Was spent exploring the republic of Ireland’s public health system. A scant 16 hours later we were very pleased to learn no blood clot in my leg, just massively swollen hematoma. Met a lot of nice people though. Spent time on a hospital gurney in the hallway, had blood test and vascular ultrasound and nice little doctor from Pakistan. Cost: 200 euros (260 US). I’m worth it.
Can’t go to Cong without a trip to The Quiet Man Museum, not open weekends or noon to 1:00, or whenever they don’t feel like it. The main event is a replica of the cottage John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara moved into, with replica clothes if you feel up to reenacting the wedding night scene.
The food has been great. You get a bowl of French fries with everything. I had a pork dinner on mashed potatoes with sides of boiled potatoes and a big bowl of French fries. My grandchildren would love it. Going to Kinvara tomorrow. My leg is getting better.
Was a lot of rocks. Drove through the Burren which is a large mountain of rock with a bunch of rocks on top. Then they stack the rocks up and call them fences. But really they are just more piles of rocks.
We puttered around then went to Dunguire Castle in Kinvara for a banquet dinner and some Irish songs and poetry. The food was quite good. More potatoes with green beans and carrots and a chicken breast. Reminded me of every wedding I’ve ever been to. The sun came out and we took lots of castle sunset pictures.
Was a lot of driving from Kinvara to Dingle Town on the aptly named Dingle Peninsula. The roads are wide enough to fit two small compact cars abreast as long as you don’t open the doors. On the sides are piles of rock fences covered with ivy and bushes. In the center of the road is a white line that marks where the edge of your right hand mirror can reach because you’re driving on the left. The object appears to be to drive as fast as possible maintaining a one-inch margin from the rocks on one side and 0 to one inch on the right. When a tour bus or large farm machinery approaches you grab the steering wheel with both hands and wet your pants.
We dingled all over the peninsula today and saw many archeological sites as civilization dates from around 3000 bc here. People built houses called beehive huts completely out of rocks (what else?) that still stand today. It was a totally grey day but wild fuchsia bushes sit atop the rock walls that line the roads and add beautiful orange and red color to the probably bloodstained undergrowth. I will have to photoshop the sun into the pictures.
We drove from the Dingle peninsula to Shannon. We had the displeasure of stopping for a bite to eat and toilet at a little place that advertised “burgers and hot pizza.” It was the Irish version of a 7/11. She said there was a toilet next door in the green building. I ordered a burger. She said they didn’t have any. No pizza either. They had hot little pies with a bit of gravy inside so we bought them both. What concerned me was the sign that said “food must be consumed within 90 minutes.” Or what, I thought? Anyway there was no green building, it was blue. And it was locked up. “I’ve been using that toilet all day,” she said. I still want to know what would have happened if we hadn’t eaten the pies in less than 90 minutes.
An update about the weather in Ireland. Generally the mornings are cool and cloudy except when the sun peeks through. Then it clouds over until it sprinkles. Suddenly the clouds dissipate and the sun comes out. Grab your camera and look for the rainbow. Oops too late. It’s cloudy again and warm. Take off your sweater. Your face flushes with perspiration just before a cold breeze makes you put your sweater back on. There’s the sun again, you sly dog. Stay there!! No it’s gone and a gentle rain begins to fall as you put your raincoat on. Time to eat breakfast.
The final day of our vacation in southwest Ireland. They have gone a long way toward keeping the Irish culture intact here. The signs are usually in Gaelic and English but sometimes, just for fun, they’re just the old Irish and you are suddenly in limbo because these words are so strange you know somebody was kidding around when they made them up — Oifig an Phoist (post office) or Beag (little). Sadly I never did find the one for toilet.
The Oldest Living Middle-Aged Writer lives in Midwestern flyover country with her dogs. There have been reported sightings of her husband. In between innings of the Cubs game she is working on her web site and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.