Travel slowly, staying in vacation rentals (villas, farms, cottages, apartments)
Report 1922: Coasting Through Ireland on Pints of Cider
By Green Dragon from FL, Spring 2011
Page 9 of 21: Thursday, May 19th: Those Megaliths are Hungry for Ankles!
As we checked out of our Ardara B&B, I discovered that, if a B&B does take credit card, they likely don't take Chip & Pin, but that was fine. I have learned to make sure to have Chip & Pin card, Credit card, and cash whenever buying something. One of them will work!
We drove around a bit trying to find the Green Gate Cottage we saw on a postcard, but the directions given by the woman at the store didn't work too well. So we went off to find Kilclooney Dolmen, and the directions were better. We did end up walking up the road about a half mile before asking a local, and heading back, but the dolmen was worth the extra effort. Walking through someone's yard to it freaked V out a bit, but I was used to such things, having been in Ireland (Scotland, England) before and explored the countryside. There was a big ditch dug around it in the peat bog, which successfully deterred anyone from getting close enough to touch/climb on the dolmen, but the sun once again graced us with its presence while we were there.
We went on to visit Glencolmcille Village again, since the sun was lovely and we had the time to visit each of the cottages. Father Dwyer had set them up to attract tourist income to the locals, and help them build up local infrastructure. The place is very nice, with about a half dozen cottages set up to portray typical life for each time period at 1700, 1850, 1900, etc. One was a General Store, one was a fisherman's cottage. We took copious photographs until a group of German tourists invaded, complete with their own interpreter.
The drive to Sligo was a bit rainier, and we got sidetracked by Glencar Falls and the lake around Ben Bulben. That was a nice hike up to the falls, and a break from being in the car. However, the side trip took us off the main road, and we were afraid we had missed Carrowmore megalithic site, which was one of my Must See items this trip. We asked at a grocery store, and all we could get is 'west of here', only one woman knew what we were talking about. So we headed west towards Sligo Airport, and found the inevitable brown signs.
Carrowmore had stone circles, cairns (yes, Carla, cairns!), and dolmens, at least a dozen different sites all within a walkable distance along a circle of trails. We explored several of them, and then the megaliths started to show their true colors, and attacked. Yes, I took a fall – I swear they jumped out and grabbed my ankle. My right ankle twisted, I fell on my left knee, and scared V, who said I looked like I just crumpled. It took a couple minutes for me to get back up (was more concerned about my camera breaking). I was hurt, but not broken. I hobbled on to the other side of the road, where there were three more stone circles to explore. Both my knee and ankle ached, but after having lost 100 pounds in a year, my frequent falls were much less damaging, and no longer crippled me. I think V was worried she would have to drive the car now (she did offer), but I was good.
Heading on towards Westport, we saw more brown signs. There were several on one pole, promising a Fairy Hill, a Miniature Village, and some other things we couldn't read, so we figured, why not? Let's go find them.
We searched down one road, found a church and a graveyard (and a tourist that tried to back up into us without looking first) but no Fairy Hill. Then another road, and another. Was that the Fairy Hill? No, just a mountain. What about that? No, it was a ruined farm building. Perhaps the Fairy Hill was hiding? Playing silly games? Well, we did finally find a lay-by with a stone wall and a pulpit that might have held an informational sign, and there was a hill nearby – but who knows if it was The Fairy Hill. We started getting disillusioned with the brown signs at that point, and my ankle was aching from the driving, so we gave up and let TomTom find us a route back to the main road.
We got to Westport, found South Mall and our B&B, The Boulevard Guesthouse without any problems. Sadie checked us in, and she was slightly abrupt, but professional. I had been corresponding with Noreen via email before, so was uncertain if she was the owner or Noreen was. She said breakfast was 9, 9:30, or 10, and we could have scrambled eggs and tomato, porridge, or something else (fruit and yoghurt?). None was the Full Irish we were learning to love, and since the first choice was the only low-carb friendly item, we chose that. We thought that, since none of the options offered meat, and tomorrow was Friday, that perhaps the owner was Catholic, and observed no meat on Fridays? Certainly not an impossible thought. There was also a sign in our room insisting No Takeaway Allowed. Since there was an Indian restaurant a couple doors down, I'm sure people had done so in the past. It just seemed rather militant. We wondered if there was No Loud Talking ... perhaps No Loud Giggling? Definitely No Loud Walking.
Our room was a sage green room, with two beds, no outlets, and very tall, Victorian ceilings. The bathroom was huge, and it was the only place we had a bath with a shower in it (the others were all showers). There was also very few surfaces to actually place things – shelves or cabinets, etc. V found the one outlet, after having to move the bed to reveal it, so we could start budgeting out time for our copious electronic gadgets and chargers. There were so many books and magazines in the lounge area, I thought I was on an episode of hoarders, but I do appreciate that more selection of reading material is better than none.
We got hooked up with the WiFi (she evidently turned it off at night, as we couldn't get any signal from around midnight to 9am), and I contacted my friend Debe so we could meet up. I'd never met Debe in person, but we were online friends for several years. Her boyfriend Dee was performing at Matt Molloy's pub the next night at 10, so we agreed to meet at the pub beforehand and chat a bit.
We still had sunlight and didn't care for staying in the room while we could be out exploring. So, we decided to see if we could find Cong and take some pics for my husband, who loves the movie The Quiet Man, which was filmed there. It was a rather long drive of about an hour, and rainy at that. When we got there, the pub from the movie served no food, and didn't allow photography inside for non-patrons. It was nearing 8pm, and I knew from experience most places didn't serve food past that time, so we couldn't stick around. I did try to sneak in one pic as I left, but was unsuccessful in getting a good shot in the low light.
We walked down the street to the Crow's Nest Pub, and I had a Shrimp Rose Marie appetizer, while V had Fried Brie with Plum Chutney. They were both quite good, and we realized it was a place that catered to Americans as it was listed as shrimp rather than prawns. There was a big group of American tourists sitting next to us, as well, having a great time.
On our way out, we found Ashford castle, and went in to take some photographs of it. We were getting a bit punchy from our long driving day, and decided that every hill we came across was the missing fairy hill. Oh, look, a fairy pony! This must be a fairy castle, then. Is that a fairy fence? Right near the fairy lay-by? It's a wide road – must be a fairy road, the straightest road in Ireland.
My ankle was very stiff and painful from the twisting and long day of driving, and I was very glad to get home.
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