Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Getting a Taste of Ireland

Fly fishing in Galway

Horses on the Burren

The Irish armchair
The Blasket Islands
The remains of the village abandoned in 1954

Boat to the Blaskets

Drive carefully

Children swimming with the dolphin
Irelands best surf beach

The Cliffs of Moher

250m down

Hurling match in Inagh

Something brushes past my leg as a large dorsal fin rises out of the water. My brain instinctively associates this with danger but I know better. The few people around reach out to touch the female common dolphin as she glides effortlessly past us. On her third time around she rolls onto her side in front of me so I can rub her belly. It is an awe inspiring thing to be this close to such a graceful and powerful wild animal.
Thumb point towards the sky, fingers curled and a smile, a surefire way to get a lift. The first car stops and whisks me towards the coast, I relax immediately and realise that this is going to be an action packed adventure. My second ride will take me north along the coast, towards the cliffs of Moher where we park the car away from the crowd and jump the fence to avoid the 8 euro fee, the view is breathtaking from these 250m sheer cliffs that drop dramatically into the sea. Quite content with my success so far I find a nice camp spot near the beach in Doolin and settle into the pub for a pint of Guinness and some live Irish music.
An early start takes me south, my second ride is a dutch father and son who are off to swim with the dolphin and have a wetsuit in the car which is my size, what are the chances?
They head back north and I south and after some Canadian golfers, an elderly women, an overweight man, a farmer, a half an hour boat ride, a painter and a Polish exterior decorator I am picked up by a young Czech women heading my direction. The cloud turns to a torrential downpour so I am not too keen to take the final life into Dingle where I had intended to stay. She offers for me to camp on her lawn. The storm continues and camping looses it's appeal, but she knows a nice hostel and it's owner, perfect! I tuck up happily in bed and listen to the weather trying desperately to get through those walls, sleep comes easily.
Waking early I pack and buy some food before heading out on foot towards the south over Mt. Brandon. The storm has calmed but cloud still shrouds the tops. In a howling gale I am blown up the mountain into a most beautiful alpine environment with tarns, rocks and rivers flowing gracefully over the landscape. The meandering pass turns to a steep and rugged switchback track up to the ridge where I leave the shelter of the valley and am instantly greeted by a force so powerful that I have to sit down. I do up my jacket and continue, the wind tries to ease me violently over the cliff, I resist with a near 45 degree lean and push on. Visibility is now reduced to meters, I reach the summit and seek shelter behind the summit marker hoping for a break in the cloud which will reveal the vastness and beauty that lies below. It doesn't happen, I head down, soon dropping below the cloud. The wind continues to eat at me like I am a subject of an ongoing interrogation, I love it! I take in the view as a farmer in the distance whistles his skillful dog in such a way that what seemed like scattered gold balls turns into a heard of scurrying sheep.
A met the next subject of the winds interrogation, we share a few words and I continue, soon reaching the car park soliciting my next ride. A ride that will last the next 2 days and take me to the Blasket Islands, the most westerly and historically interesting islands in Ireland, to Dingle where the music flowed as freely as the Guinness, to the pub in honour of Shackleton's (the intrepid Antarctic explorer) right hand man, then north through Limerick and on to the coast to camp. I also was given acupuncture as part of the deal. 48 hours later I was dropped not far from Galway from where I hitched into the city to take in the sights, the adventure came to an end the following morning as I boarded a bus bound for Dublin.


Post a Comment

<< Home