Ireland Day Four September 2005
It’s a typical Irish day today, cloudy and rainy, although we are told the weather is still unseasonably warm and has been all summer. But no one is complaining. Winter in Ireland is hard and that will be here soon enough.
Becki & I have decided to get up and walk early, well early for being on vacation. We have agreed on eight for our start time. Donny has set his phone to ring. Later into the depths of my sleep I hear a tap, tap, tap. I wonder who could be knocking at the apartment door and how could I possibly hear it in the bedroom. I continue my sleep only partially awakened anyway. Another tap, tap, tap marches into my slumber. Maybe it’s Becki I guess trying to figure out why Donny’s phone has not rung.
I call out to Becki and struggle out of bed. A moment later the chirping of Donny’s wake up birds calls out. Ah ha, Becki has been a quick one this morning.
I dress, grab my camera and we venture forth. No rain yet only clouds. We climb the steps by the clock tower. They go up and up and up. When we start up the steps I tease Becki about repeating the circuit twenty times. She agrees. By the time we reach the top we think tomorrow will be soon enough. It’s really not that bad, somewhat like climbing the monument hill only higher. It’s a regular sort of neighborhood up here. Folks getting off to work and kids to school. In Ireland the kids wear uniforms to school. This street is still small, like all Irish streets, but very busy with morning activity.
The overlook from here onto the old village and cove down below is wonderful.
We are now above the church and its graveyard but cannot get in from here. The old city wall parallels our walk even as we start our descent about ¼ mile later. We see a lane winding up to our left and take it only to find ourselves right back where we started about fifteen minutes later. We are now on the shopping street and as it is time to go back so Becki can get ready for practice, we stop in the butcher for some fresh bacon, which is more like ham. Then we go to Collins the bakery for bread. The shop is full of baskets and barrels of huge loaves of bread in every direction. The shop lady tells us her husband bakes bread all night. We buy a brown loaf and a white one.
Back in the apartment we realize we have forgotten to buy a newspaper. I go out to get one while everyone else is prepping for the morning practice. I leave Becki starting breakfast but take over when I get back.
There is a little time before practice after we have eaten. Donny decides to see if he can check his email and do computer business things. I plan to meet him and retrieve the computer and also check my mail etc. When I get there, Donny and Jacquie are standing outside the shop. Or rather Donny is kneeling in the sidewalk trying to view the computer screen. The shop is not open as we were told it would be. Donny is online but cannot see the screen because the glare is so bad. He gives up.We all wait a bit and then I go on to the grocery where I replenish our supplies. Back at the cybercafé, I find Donny inside just finishing up. We switch places. He is off to practice.
I chat with Cathie and Katelyn on AIM for awhile and send mail for a few folks. Then I pay up and head to the bakery to buy more coffee. So far it is the only place in town we have found to get coffee beans ground up freshly for us. The shop lady and I discuss her small variety of beans. She apologizes. I tell her it is fine. I tell her that Ireland more than makes up for it with wonderful whiskeys. She laughs. I tell her what I need to do is make some Irish coffee. Both she and her assistant start talking at once to tell me exactly how to do this to make the coffee perfectly right.
It is very simple, but very important to do the steps correctly, they say. Start with a splash of whiskey, Jamison, Power, or Paddy. Add hot black coffee. Then drizzle cream over the back of a spoon so that is curls into the coffee. Add some brown sugar if you must.
I have a full backpack of groceries plus the computer but this is too good sounding to put off. I head back to the grocery for cream and whiskey.
Back home I unload and try to take a bath. But I have not been given instructions to the tub hot water acquisition. Actually the first night here I took a bath and the water was extremely hot so I did not realize there was a hot water maze to negotiate. The water I used must have been left over from the previous folks. The shower has a heater box connected to it, but the tub has some type of switching plan in the hall. After a while I give up and take a sponge bath. For some reason I cannot get the shower to run at all, even though I know its sequence, so cannot fill the tub that way. About this time the group comes in and rescues me.
In a short while we are due to meet for a tour of unknown destination but it will be a driving one. We have a few minutes so Bill & Becki go to town to try and send some mail home to her music classes. I want to find a less dressy pair of earrings since for some reason all I have brought with me are big dangly ones which I love but not for day. Donny is sure we will all miss the bus. He promises to hold it for as long as he can.
I find an awesome pair of silver earrings that depict the Children of Lir legend. The story goes that an evil queen turned King Lir’s four children into swans. They were forced to live 300 years in each of three Irish places. Now all that is left of them is their lovely singing voices.
I get to the bus, as do B&B in plenty of time. Donny is there and the rest. It is a small van type bus. Two of the committee members have privately hired it to give us a tour of the countryside. We see the Irish Sea from a bluff. We see a section of Ireland preserved and protected by the government where Gaelic is still spoken and used in daily life. We see a monument to the America soldiers that helped with the Irish revolution. We cannot read it because it is in Gaelic, but Marian translates for us. We find this slightly amusing as any American wandering along will not know it addresses their countrymen unless they should happen to know Gaelic. We also see an abandoned church surrounded by equally abandoned graves.
Back at the Mall Arts Center, Marian and Tom, our tour sponsors, invite us for a drink at The Quay just down the street. We suggest our driver join us. He is happy to do so, but goes to park the bus first. We have our drinks and some of us order snacks as it is nearing dinner time. The madrigals are due to perform for the opening of Elizabeth R, Barbara’s one woman show, and then head to the Walter Raleigh Hotel to hear traditional Irish music so there is no time for other food.
At the arts center I run into my Irish sword friend who has written out a whole page of Gaelic for me but there is no time to chat now. He will get back with me later and explain it. He has brought that wonderful sword with him again.
lebame asks me to take pictures of HRH after the performance since there will be a similar set up as with the Lost Colony group in which certain scenes are restaged for a film being made. The crowd is small this evening but very appreciative of the show. Barbara’s mum, Connie, from England has flown over to see her and her performance. Barbara is sick but being the trooper that she is you would never know it from her marvelous performance.
Donny has waited for me rather than go on to the Raleigh. Not wanting to interrupt the show he has waited in the lobby. So he saw neither show because as it turns out just as we get to the hotel the last song has completed. Everyone tells us what a wonderful show we have missed, complete with River Dance rivaling Irish jigging. And the kids are all local. Breeda has taped it and shows us a selection. Bill has made his Irish debut during the talent portion of the show where anyone can sing or dance. He was a big hit with the audience.
The committee ladies want to take us to a close by pub. Just then the younger of the two guys performing at the Raleigh on Saturday night pops in and tells Bill that Dave, the other guy in the group, is playing at the Yawl Inn and would like Bill to join in. Bill is a happy camper. His fingers have been itching to jam with someone.
Apparently the Yawl Inn is a bit more casual than the ladies would like because they turn us over to Aoile, the young daughter of one of the committee members, and bid their goodnights.
We decide to walk to the Yawl. It is on the shop street just beyond The Hook we were at the night before.
Becki and I stop in a shop for a chicken sandwich to munch along the way.
The Yawl Inn is small much like a college bar only again all ages are enjoying their night out. Bill immediately joins Dave and another guy strumming. Here as well, he is a hit with the crowd and also with Dave. I tell Becki they will be invited back to tour with a music group. She laughs and says Bill always finds a group to jam with. She is surprised that it took him four days this time, on their trip to Hawaii it was only two.
Again we close the bar and wander home under a hazy crescent moon hovering just above the horizon.