Clifden, Connemara, Ireland
Wednesday, Oct. 2
Today we transferred from Ennis to Clifden. We drove north to Galway where we made our first stop at the Liam Mellows Gaelic Athletic Association club house. We were greeted by one of their members who gave us a detailed explanation of two of their favorite sports: Gaelic Football and Hurling.
He demonstrated Gaelic football and showed us a video pointing out the the various moves. This game is played with a ball that looks like our soccer ball, but the moves are very different. You can use your hands, bounce the ball and run about 4ish steps carrying the ball. The emphasis was on the ISH part because the number of steps wasn’t an absolute. You could score three points for putting the ball into the net under the goal post, and one point for getting it above the goal post, between the uprights.
Next he explained the game of Hurling. It is played using a stick called a Hurl which looks something like a short hockey stick with a wide base at the bottom. You use both hands to grasp it, with your dominant hand on the bottom. He demonstrated the moves and showed them in action in a demo video. THEN, we all put on helmets and went out onto the practice field to give the moves a try, for ourselves. It was amazingly hard, but it was fun watching the others, as I couldn’t participate. A lady at the Athletic Club made sandwiches and scones for our lunch. They were the best scones I have ever had.
The weather was dry and occasionally we saw some sun. In late afternoon we pulled into the coastal town of Clifton. The driver gave us two loops around the small town then to the Clifden Station House Hotel. After settling in to the hotel, we walked a few blocks to Guy’s Pub for dinner for Melanie and I shared a pizza and Paul had a huge bowl of muscles.
Thursday, Oct. 3
We have been keeping our attention on the approaching hurricane Lorenzo. It is the largest hurricane ever to move this far north in the Atlantic. Clifden sits way west on the Irish coast and very possibly in the hurricanes path. It was due to hit sometime during the day.
Our first stop for the morning was a visit to Tom, a sheep farmer. This was a day for all rain gear, including rain pants. When we got off the bus is was very windy, and shortly started to rain, hard. We still got to watch Tom work his border collie using voice commands. He sent the dog out to round up a group of sheep and bring them into a pen so we could see them up close and Tom could answer questions about them. The dog kept them in place just by looking at them. It was amazing. We then worked our way into a small building where Tom made tea or coffee for us, and we had more chances to talk about his sheep and his new two-week old baby. He runs a herd of 600 ewes and 5 rams of black-face mountain sheep. I asked about bummers, and he said he had 20 last year. His lambs will arrive the middle of April.
From the sheep ranch we drove to the Kylemore Abbey. This Abbey was built by Mitchel Henry in the mid 1800s for his wife. It sits on a lake and the total grounds are over 1000 acres including a 6 acre walled garden. There is a group of Benedictine nuns who still live in the Abbey. As a business they make chocolate, soap and skin care products. They still wear a traditional habit. By the time we got to the Abbey, late morning, the wind and rain had intensified so that it was very difficult to walk and not be blown over. We made it to the Abbey, which is set up like a museum of the time period, but we didn’t go further to see the Gothic Church. There was a lunch cafeteria on site and we had vouchers for a sandwich, soup, cake and tea/coffee. It was a lot to eat. As I looked around the room I noticed large photographs taken of the place and the setting. At the bottom they all said “Photographed by Lorenzo Mitchel Henry” who was the grandson. It was quite appropriate because we had been attacker’s by Hurricane Lorenzo that day.
At 1:30 we left the Kylemore Abbey and headed straight back to the hotel where we hunkered down for the rest of the day, expecting the worst of the hurricane. It really didn’t get any worse, as it had veered further south and we were spared a full hit. Happy for that. Dinner that night was included in the trip.
Friday, Oct. 4
Today we have a long transfer all the way up to Donegal, with interesting stops along the way. More about that in the next post.
PS: Knee is doing fine.
Grace and Paul Pitzer are retired school teachers who love to travel and share their stories and photos with others.
Chronicles Grace's journey through breast cancer
Grace and Paul Pitzer
We hope you will keep checking back regularly to see what is new. I'm always out and about with some camera and love to stretch my skills and add to my volume of work.
Motto: "Pack light and take lots of pictures."