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Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Clifden to Inis Mor, Aran Islands. Happy Birthday Wm Shakespeare.


Up early to another gloriously sunny morning. A magnificent breakfast and an uneventful exit from Clifden with only one wrong right and after a quick correction and reaffirmation of direction we were on the road.

Again sheep dot the roads and hills and stonewalls everywhere. We turn the radio on, for the first time, because we must hear about PA primaries. Our morning is made even better as we hear Hillary won by 10 percentage points. Maybe tomorrow, we will get more details, as today’s papers don’t have the details.


At the major juncture where we have to take a right to get the ferry, we are stopped at a Garda checkpoint for inspection sticker. It is an adventure as it is the first police we have seen. We are assured the right will get us to the ferry in 20 minutes. We are ahead of schedule by 40 minutes. We miss another turn and after a quick backtrack find our last approach to the ferry. It is a Block Island arrangement and look. We park and get on board and are followed by a couple bus tours, one of seniors and the other of school children. The ferry reminded us of the Block Island ferry.


Our hotel, The Pier House, could be seen from the ferry and was at the end of the pier where the ferry landed. After settling in we joined a tour bus with six other people. The tour took us through town and out along the southern route to our first stop, Dun Aonghasa, a Celtic fortress. Along the way we saw part of the 7000 miles of stonewalls on Aran. There construction happened in the early part of the 1900’s to contain animals, clear land for farming, and to serve as property boundaries. The architecture was varied and eclectic, from thatch roofed houses to a circular house and all styles in between. Once we arrive at the first stop, we look for Sarah, a lady who is purported to make the best sweaters on Aran. We find her and Heather buys four sweaters. Three are to be gifts while she keeps one for herself. The hike up the fortress is incredible. The tour demonstrates just how rugged it is to live on this island. Electricity has been here for 30 years. Supplies arrive by boat. The island shares a doctor with another island as well as sharing their priest who has a pilot’s license so he flies between the two islands.


Walking in town after the tour provided us a closer look at the ruggedness of living on this island. We eventually stop at a lovely restaurant. I have a great Fish casserole and Heather has the equally great potato, bacon, beetroot salad topped with a beautifully sliced avocado. The pint has a clover leaf on it. After an early evening nap, I head off to the hostel pub to watch the match between Manchester United and Barcelona. An exciting game ends nil nil. Ronaldo misses a PK and Henry provides some late game excitement. I walk home in a hard driving rain.


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