Europe Travel Itinerary, 1999-2000:
This itinerary is intended to capture the day-to-day activities and impressions of our trip.
Click on the asterisks * next to the day to go to that entry.
Wednesday, June 23, 1999; Derry & Inishowen: *
Thursday, June 24, 1999; Inishowen stone monuments: *
Friday, June 25, 1999; County Donegal: *
Saturday, June 26, 1999; Donegal: *
Sunday, June 27, 1999; Sligo: *
Monday, June 28, 1999; Carrowmore: *
Tuesday, June 29, 1999; Carrowmore & Loch Gill: *
Wednesday, June 30, 1999; Carrowkeel: *
Thursday, July 1, 1999; Carrowkeel & Westport: *
Friday, July 2, 1999; Connemara & Galway: *
Saturday, July 3, 1999; Galway: *
Sunday, July 4, 1999; Inishmore - the Aran Islands: *
Monday, July 5, 1999; Galway & County Clare: *
Tuesday, July 6, 1999; County Clare, Cliffs of Mohar, Milltown Malbay: *
Wednesday, July 7, 1999; County Clare, Ennis and Limerick: *
Thursday, July 8, 1999; Lough Gur: *
Friday, July 9, 1999; Fennit: *
Saturday, July 10, 1999; Fennit: *
Sunday, July 11, 1999; Fennit & Dingle peninsula: *
Monday, July 12, 1999; Dingle and Ring of Kerry: *
Tuesday, July 13, 1999; Ring of Kerry: *
Wednesday, July 14, 1999; Killarney and driving to Harristown Dolmen: *
Thursday, July 15, 1999; Drive to Newgrange: *
Friday, July 16, 1999; Loughcrew & Drive to Gort Muire outside Dublin: *
Saturday, July 17, 1999; Dublin: *
Sunday, July 18, 1999; Dublin: *
Monday, July 19, 1999; Dublin: *
Tuesday, July 20, 1999; Dublin: *
Wednesday, July 21, 1999; Dublin: *
Wednesday, June 23, 1999; Derry & Inishowen:
Got to a decently early start. Made final corrections to Derry and re-uploaded it. Packed the van and around 1pm went to meet Simon Colgan, the oldest of the Colgan brothers and sisters. He took us to DaVinci's for lunch and we talked about both our travel plans and his recent travels to Australia.
We returned and reviewed a book on Inishowen archaeological sites, taking notes for the next day. Drove into town and got our front tire fixed at Bee Cycles; posted a bunch of stuff back to the States. Took pictures of loads of Republican sentiment murals to the West of the city walls. Then we headed north on the A2 till we got to the Republic of Ireland. Just as going toward Letterkenny, there were no border stops. The road changed designation to R238 and it was in excellent condition. Kathleen had recalled that many of the roads in Ireland were in poor shape when she had been there. But now we noticed a ton of money being spent. It seemed every town we passed had earthmoving equipment making better roads and newer homes. New paint was on most of the buildings and we saw painters in three towns applying new coats of cheerful pinks, yellows and tans.
We discovered that the speed limit signs are in Miles and the distance markers are in Kilometers. Pretty strange. Fortunately we'd gotten used to obeying speed limits in miles and our odometer reads km.
We continued north past Moville to Greencastle where we climbed around the most excellent ruined castle we'd read about in the Inishowen site book at Paddy's. Another sentinel to the never ending quest to protect one's power.
We backtracked to Moville and turned north along the R238 toward Gleneely. Parked for the night about 9:30 at an unadorned (but freshly painted) church and walked about on the roads till 10 (still quite light). Retired for pasta dinner and cracked open the abridged version of Gibbons 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.' Heading reading put us soon to bed.
Thursday, June 24, 1999; Inishowen stone monuments:
Got going around 9am with breakfast. Figured out where we were on our map and headed toward the first of a half dozen sites. They were concentrated all within walking distance about two miles south of Culdaff (Cuil Dabhcha). These were all small and we knew there would be no tourist information available. Sure enough, we had to climb over farmer's fences, back the van a quarter mile out of dead-end roads and slog through muddy fields avoiding the cowpies.
The weather was beautifully clear and Cattle grazed amongst the ancient stones, and some had shapes which suggested perhaps the cows used them to scratch their behinds (though we never actually saw this happening).
First we saw the Temple of Deen a 'Druid's Altar' in Laraghirril. Then we saw the Druid's Circle at Glackadrumman (we later saw an artist's painting of the circle and believe the name was either Boon's Circle or Doon's Circle), and a Burial Carn at Knockergrana. We also saw a standing stone and some assorted stones designated 'Rock Art' at Knocergrana.
Finally we drove south on R240 and hiked up a small peak and across bogs (on top of the range!) to a 'Ring Fort' and 'Megalithic tombs' near Meenabaltin. There we saw windmills on the mountains of Crocknacraddy to the west behind the burial mounds. It was a vision of a utopian future: clean energy powering a sparsely populated, advanced civilization which is enriched by it's ancient past. (The stone cairns themselves where so covered with soil that we had to have the map to know they weren't natural formations. The 'Ring Fort' was even less convincing, looking for all the world like a natural outcropping of stone.) The weather continued springlike and beautiful all day.
Continued south to the R238, then on to the R239 and the N13. Passed the signs to the Grianan of Aileach and continued to Letterkenny. Enjoyed pie at a great reading café and then enjoyed an hour online at the new cyber café in town. There were four young men playing a networked shoot-em-up game and all the idle computers were running Seti-at-home (searching the astronomical data for patterns which might indicate extraterrestrial intelligence). All in all a very cool place. (The bathrooms were clean and deserted as well, making them ideal.)
Found a small neighborhood outside town and made camp.
Friday, June 25, 1999; County Donegal:
Drove north on N56 intending to go to the coast, but detoured to head to Glenveagh National Park. Here we experienced the infamous Irish roadway surfaces for the first time. The countryside was bleak and the valley was flat, giving us the desire to speed along. But every time the van gets over 30mph, it started bouncing as if it would fly into the air. We had to keep the speed way down. Occasionally there'd be gouges across the roadway that made a sound like driving over rumblestrips.
At Glenveagh park we had lunch and broke out the bicycles for their first ride. It was marvelous whizzing through the clear air on a sunny day next to Loch Ghleann Bheatha. We made it to the Castle halfway down the lake and toured the excellent British style gardens. We climbed up the path to the lookout over the lake and Kathleen did yoga while Henry had a wee nap. Rode bikes back to our van and left the park about 4:30.
The weather continued to be gorgeous and clear. We rolled down the windows to cool off the van and the clean air freshened our van. On either side of the roadway (R251) we saw the long trenches where peat was mined for fires. Many of the trenches seemed unused and the occasional goat or sheep grazed on the highway nearby. In other places the cylinders of dark earthy material were laid up in pyramid piles to dry or stuffed into plastic bags awaiting pickup. We wondered how the supply of peat could ever be exhausted, but cautioned ourselves that forever is a long time.
Picked up a main road (N56) with none of the problems of the smaller roads, and at Maas returned to back roads (R261) searching for a 'Ring Fort' on our map near Portnoo and Naran. We think we saw it far away on an inaccessible island, but we were a bit unsure. We later saw a sign for Fort Doon but were too impatient to get going so we left it unexplored. We never made it to Portnoo and found out later there was a festival there.
Instead we drove south to Ardara where we found a session (sesiun) at the Central Pub on the main street. Kathleen played her bodhran and fit in great. Henry read the paper and had a conversation with Pat McKay, wife of a farmer from Ballynahinch in county Down (which we'd driven through going from Belfast to Newcastle). She and Henry discussed subjects from the succession of recent US presidents, to the ideal mix of capitalism & socialism, to the future of the troubles in Northern Ireland.
Finally left the session (still going) at 1:30am. We planned to sleep on the street, but an old man stopped us going into the van and crossed the street.
"You sleeping here tonight?" he asked.
"Yes," we said. "Is that OK?"
"Sure, sure," he said. "I work at that factory over there" he pointed. "If you turn down that street, there's a lot where you could park ten busses. It'll be much nicer for ya."
So we did as he suggested and were very happy for it. The site was indeed huge and we felt sure we wouldn't offend anyone knowing he'd told us it was OK.
Saturday, June 26, 1999; Donegal:
Woke up and the good weather had broken. It was solid rain from the moment we woke (10am) till we got going after reading, bringing the itinerary up to date, and having breakfast and stretches (2pm). Drove south on N56 to Killybegs and since the weather was so miserable we decided to forego travelling west to Glencolumbkille an instead go east to Donegal. There we engaged in an orgy of spending because we needed an umbrella, vitamins, fruit and gifts ($47 worth, in all). It made us feel a little better in the face of the cold rain.
Around 6pm we decided to head south to make Sligo for the evening. Our hope was to get a bit further south and enjoy the western coast and county Galway when the weather improved. The road just south of Donegal improved quite a bit and we were able to do 80km with no problem (about 50mph). Just past Bundoran the weather broke and we pulled off to try to find a stone cross marked on our map. No success, so we had pasta in the parking lot of an unlabelled church overlooking the sea.
After dinner we asked a women on her evening stroll where to find the cross. She turned out to be English, recently retired and we turned out to have driven right under the cross as we came off the main road. We drove back to the cross and took our usual slew of pictures. Just as we were downloading, Kathleen was thinking about seeing the woman again and all of a sudden she popped her head in and invited us to tea.
Her name was Delphine and her and her husband Chris had recently retired and bought a cottage looking out on the ocean beach. They spent a month here and there in the cottage enjoying the view and the slower pace of life in Leitrim county. As we talked with them, they shared their thoughts on the decline (Americanization) of life back in Sussex (where they own a 14th century waddle and daub cottage). A group of four or more surfers donned their wet suits and rushed across the landscape outside their house to the breaking waves. The sunset over the mountains on the other side of the bay turned out magnificent.
They told us their cottage was built soon after independence when the government gave poor people reasonably self sufficient living by giving them a cottage, a quarter acre (for vegetables) and a bog (for cutting peat).
They recommended we do a drive called the 'Horseshoe,' gave us a map and sent us on with the guidance not to miss it. We turned off the road following the sign to 'Yeats country' and the Horseshoe drive and soon found a family from Whiterock Road camped by a lovely ruined watermill. Night was falling so we decided to return after trying to call Caitriona one more time.
Searching for a phone we walked into a bar and into the world of Irish pubdom. The cigarette smoke was so thick it seemed the proprietor must have disabled any smoke alarms in the place. The room behind the bar was bigger than the bar itself and had a dance floor surrounded by benches and low tables. A guitarist and an accordionist kept the dance floor full of couples doing the two step to Irish tunes set over a Cajun beat.
We stayed until midnight when the band called it quits. Then we retreated to our planned campsite and turned in by 1am.
Sunday, June 27, 1999; Sligo:
Upon waking we knew the 'standard' weather we expected of Ireland had returned. It sprinkled on us during breakfast and cleared up while we did the dishes. Continuing around the Horseshoe, we saw an other-worldly landscape. The mountains rose as sheer cliffs straight from the valley floor. There were no signs of habitation other than the road, straggling sheep and a single stone ruin. Caves in the mountainsides gaped open like black holes into the age of myth.
The road we were on was narrow and we were grateful we met no other traffic until we got out of the valley and began seeing cottages with places to pull out of the way. We came off the backroad circuit onto the main road (N15) just south of Grange (turned out we missed a great monolithic site). Within five minutes we'd made it to Yeat's grave and snapped a picture of his haunting epitaph:
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by.
At first Henry thought the punctuation was a period after Life and a comma after Death. That seemed to make more sense, but the way it's written it stays with you much longer .
Onward to Sligo we went and had lunch outside the Sligo Abbey. We decided not to go in, but stayed outside in the van doing some pleasure reading. (Kathleen reading Bronte and Henry reading Anne McAferry).
Then we drove east to Carrowmore, a complex site of megalithic passage tombs. This site was one of the most amazing we'd seen. The tour guide was an anthropologist and his commentary was illuminating in the extreme. There were originally over 200 stone structures on the site, of which only about 60 remain (though about 20 of those are buried underground and discovered in modern times with ground sonar). The remaining ones were destroyed in the nineteenth century when Ireland was in it's dark time (the famine being only the most famous, most acute example). All the other monuments were torn up to be used for stone or to clear the land for cultivation by landowners whose motivation was profit and by workers who would do anything for a wage.
Michael explained that the term 'Passage Grave' is a poor name for the structures we saw. They are more properly temples (chimples in the ancient tongues) which have as one element human remains. The prototypical ones have a dolmen in the center (stone slabs leaned together and capped by a manufactured stone with a flat bottom) and a passage leading out from the dolmen to a ring of stones around the edge. This forms a passage from the outside to the center with a circuit between the outside stones and the inside dolmen. Clay or cobblestones often lined the circuit suggesting that it was used for some sort of religious procession. The number of people buried at a site such as Carromore is only a few hundred, while the population which supported the stones over 5,000 years was three quarters of a million. So clearly the burial remains on the site do not indicate that it was anything like the cemeteries we have in recorded history.
During the tour we had a magic moment while he explained the Grave of Queen Maeve (a cairn clearly visible on the mountain just to the south-west of Carrowmore). The 50,000 ton cairn situated on the crest of the mountain changes it's profile and the currently popular myths is that it contains Queen Maeve buried in full battle dress facing the north where her enemies were housed. But her relatives by marriage were to the north, and the cairn itself predates Maeve by hundreds of years. So his explanation was rather that when it was originally built, the cairn probably marked the ceremonial home of Mother Nature, whose enemies in the north would have been the cyclic winter. The magic moment came when he pointed to the range of mountains to our south. On the peaks, he told us to look for the outline of cairns much like Queen Maeve's grave. Suddenly we saw the tiny pricks of cairns on each mountain top, marking the southern border of the tribes of Sligo.
The tour swelled as we continued to about 40 people, almost all from America. Michael continued to point out stone circles and tell what was known of their history and their purpose. (There's a central cairn called Site 51 and almost all the structures are oriented towards 51, even though some are older than the current structure on 51.) He thinks there was a labyrinth of sites that one proceeded down to arrive at the center. One of the rings he pointed out was site 19 which he was renowned for it's strong energy. Many people who went off for 15 minutes he said returned hours later with tears on their faces.
At the end of the tour it was almost 6pm. We began hatching an idea for a photographic book and decided to get some photographs of the monuments that evening, then return the next day for more photography. Henry had to move the van out of the parking lot (which was closing) and drove around looking for a place to park it. He found the road blocked at site 19 where a gaggle of Americans had gone immediately after the tour.
We ended up parked outside a church down the road. Had bowtie pasta and continued reading our books.
Monday, June 28, 1999; Carrowmore:
Returned and took more photographs at Carrowmore. We had our alone time with site 19 and it does indeed have a very peaceful feel to it. We talked more with Michael Roberts about the history of Carrowmore and of himself. He's retired from business studying for a degree in anthropology. He grew up in sight of Queen Maeve's grave, developing a life long interest in those sites. He told us that the older generation didn't have adequate words to describe these megalithic structures. They just lowered their voices and mumbled the local folklore.
We detoured into town after unsuccessfully seeking the road to Knocknarea and Queen Maeve's Grave. We got a couple of missing supplies and then headed back west. Found the car park and made the half-hour climb (more strenuous than we'd though) to the top. It's utterly incomprehensible how they got 50,000 tons of stone up there for the cairn. We met a guy on the way up who told to take a stone up to the top and lay it on the tomb and make a wish. This we did, only we threw our stones up onto the cairn and found out later after we'd climbed it one's supposed to drop it on a small pile growing on the very top.
The views were magnificent and the wind was wicked.
We hobbled down the hill (going down seems harder than going up sometimes) and drove north to re-take some photos of the Celtic cross at the cemetery where Yeats is buried. Then we continued looking for the Creevykeel Court Tomb (really cool picture we'd seen on a post card). We detoured past the castle where Prince Charles' favorite uncle was assassinated by the IRA and watched the sun setting above roaring waves dashing the limestone cliffs. We drove away before the sun actually set and saw the touristified town of Mullaghmore. We found the Court Tomb across the street from the pub where we'd watched the dancing on Saturday night! It was quite the cool site -- sadly the 4,500 site is somewhat spoiled by a 4th century iron smelting furnace built right into the courtyard. Oh well.
Retired to the mill from two nights earlier and had dinner and sponge baths.
Tuesday, June 29, 1999; Carrowmore & Loch Gill:
We met with the ground crews cleaning up the mill for a public picnic spot. Then we spent a good part of the morning photographing some abandoned houses near the mill. It's sad to see all the old houses and cottages becoming abandoned as the population is swelling. But the new money wants a plan house in a new neighborhood near the city. Sounds sickeningly familiar, but it seems the neuvo-riche are the same in all times and places.
We made it back to the Creevykeel Court Tomb and took advantage of the morning light to take some better pictures. Then we returned to Carrowmore for some renewed photography, especially digital.
Then we drove around Loch Gill, and got quite lost on our way to Carrowkeel. We saw a pair of ostentatious mansions on one hill, another sign of the new affluence here in Ireland.
Drove to Carrowkeel and parked at top of mountain. Felt as if we were trespassing on the ancient's lands as we drove up the valley under the gaze of their impassive mountaintop cairns. The wind blew so hard it made the tubes of our bicycle rack whistle. We got out the sleeping bags and huddled for warmth.
Wednesday, June 30, 1999; Carrowkeel:
Woke late and talked about life. Got ready to climb to the tombs at 12:45. There was a trickling stream of visitors to the tombs. Most arrived by car and spent about a half hour. Others came on foot, having walked either from the lower car park or the visitor's center, we never were sure which.
Several of the tombs seemed well preserved despite a 1911 butchery of an excavation by what passed at the time for archaeologists. Others clearly show the damage which was done to them. (His name was Macalister and they opened up fourteen tombs in 12 days, using blasting powder, pick axes and sledge hammers to beat their way inside.)
The first one is probably the best. It's aligned to the summer solstice and originally had a stone covered with mica at the back side of the tomb so that light would reflect forward to a stone with an enigmatic slit carved through it .
We took pictures of all the passage tombs near the car park (designated G, H, K and L) and hiked to two tomb/temples on the ridge to the west, Cairns E & F, though we only actually visited E.
The farmer, Dominic Branley, who owns the land walked by and said hi. We asked him if he was the owner, and he said "Yes," and asked us cheerfully if we'd like to buy it. (It was the same response we'd gotten from the farmer John Byrne at Carrowmore.) Kathleen drew him out with her charming style and we learned he'd bought the farm about 20 years before for only £50,000 (it appeared to be at least 200 acres). He seemed to want credit for the fact he didn't charge the public for seeing the monuments, and we assured him we were grateful. We found out later from Trevor Yancey (a guide for the local tourist center, his boss is John Corchoran, director of Parks for Sligo county) that the state owns the monuments themselves and that no one can charge unless they own both the land and the monuments (as they do at Carrowmore). We took some great pictures of Dominic holding a bundle of wool which was all that was left of a dead sheep from his herd (the rest was eaten by foxes and birds).
Another free-camping couple from the Netherlands joined us in the evening. We were planning to drive on, but when we saw how far and beautiful the walk was to the hut sites and Cairn O & P we decided to sleep there another night. It wasn't as windy but colder than the night before.
Thursday, July 1, 1999; Carrowkeel & Westport:
Woke early and got going around 10. The weather clearer and warmer than the day before with light blue sky highlighting mostly small cumulus clouds. Made the longer than expected hike to the hut sites on the plateau beneath Cairns O & P. Climbed up the incredibly steep cliffsides (amazed we were doing it) to see the incredibly small entrance and space inside Cairn O. P was up another steep cliffside so we decided to let it wait for the future.
The stone hut circles are almost invisible because they lie on a plateau of exposed limestone that's taken on the pockmarked look of an alien landscape. It seems it would have been a thoroughly miserable place to live (no place for the kids to play) unless perhaps at that time the limestone was either not exposed or only recently exposed and therefore it may have been flat.
It's amazing to realize how much effort went into their religious buildings, which have intact roofs and dry floors six thousand years after they were built, and compare that level of effort with their day to day structures which are all but gone.
We drove back into Sligo for groceries and then headed on to Westport (down the N4 to the N17). The weather turned grim with gray rain matching the grim news on the radio that peace talks looked on the brink of failure 19 hours after the midnight deadline. We listened rapt to speakers from the Republic explaining why they thought the parties at the talks had scuttled the peace process. It was interesting how much apologetic reading the host of the hour long program gave to those listeners who'd phoned to say they were tired of hearing about Northern Ireland and wanted him to cover something else.
We visited a lovely bookstore in Westport and then headed out on the coast road past Westport Quay to a scenic lookout on the Clew Bay. Had pasta for dinner and worked on neglected itinerary, webpage and Jane Austin novels.
Friday, July 2, 1999; Connemara & Galway:
Woke at 8am and putzed about (washing hair, doing some printing) until 10:30. Drove down the ____ and after hunting about found the Field and the Falls used in the movie 'The Field.'
Scenery though Connemara was beautiful. Found a cottage in a grove of fern covered oaks.
Got camping gas and a nap at a town on the edge of the peninsula.
The Twelve Bins (?) had their peaks covered with clouds as we drove past them.
Parked in the lot outside the city's catholic cathedral (built in the 19th century) and found Caitriona and Seamus' home. We visited and did our laundry until midnight when we went back to our van to sleep.
Saturday, July 3, 1999; Galway:
Woke at 8am and put on eye masks. The parking lot was already filling up with Saturday shoppers. Slept till 10am. The weather looked lovely with a spattering of clouds in the sky. was spitting all day, though it had very pleasant clear spells.
Stopped by Caitriona's home at 11 to make sure we were still on for breakfast. Sure enough we were, so we headed on to the street market with plans to return by 11:30 or 12. The scene was pure European. The streets were narrow and not quite straight and the vendors wares were piled on the sidewalk as much as on their tables. We bought bagels and a souvenir necklace pendant made from bogwood.
Breakfast was our chance to meet Lorcan, their 4 month old, and catch up on their plans for a new home in Connemara. As Seamus put it, 'owning land is very important to the Irish.'
We decided to do a good deal of purchasing in Galway. It was the first major city we'd come to and we had a number of important needs. We went back into the city center, visiting a swan on her nest in a canal by one of the main streets.
Bought many things, mostly books and photography related. We found a used zoom lens which we snapped up with great enthusiasm. Overall we spent almost $250. The weather was very nice except for one half hour interval where the sky opened up and poured buckets on us and the new street works, turning construction sand to muddy paste.
The streets were crammed with tourists and buskins. Street singing was raised to a new level, with one guy in a green Halloween eye mask beating out African rhythms on a bodhran in front of a sound-activated ghoul. The different beats would elicit different behavior from the automated spook and it made for quite an entertaining show. There was also a couple of young guys beating uninteresting strokes on an interesting looking double kettle drum made from the fork of a tree. Henry asked Kath to take a picture, which she did. Then when she tried to walk away, we got busted by the other musician who was watching. He came and asked us to put money in their hat. We were embarrassed and complied, though we wished we'd had the presence of mind to say to the guy, "but your friend isn't any good ."
Had dinner with Caitriona, Seamus, Lorcan, and Caitriona's father Noel. He told us about his travels through northern Africa and taking part in an Aristotelian fertility ritual in the caves on the southern shores of the Mediterranean. Infertile women come from all over to sit in a holy bowl and have ritual waters poured over them. Then they stay locked in a network of dark caves for four days. Afterwards, many are pregnant. The miracle probably owes it's magic to the likely presence of virile young males hiding out of sight in the caves. Many of the women are married to older men in their villages. One can fill in the parts of the picture which are missing in the pitch black dark of the labyrinths. When one leaves the caves, one must 'cross the palm of the priestess with silver.'
After dinner we drove to Carraroe (in Gaelic 'An Cheathru Rua,' along routes R336 and R343) and parked by the beach to await the ferry in the morning to the Aran Islands.
Made it to bed around 12:30 with gentle rain falling on the roof.
Sunday, July 4, 1999; Inishmore - the Aran Islands:
Woke at 9am and got to work preparing sandwiches. Drove back to the port at Rossaveel into what looked like very promising weather. We took our bikes on the ferry which was just a passenger ferry, so it was tiny compared to the ferries we'd been on before. We got into a spat on the way to the island, and though we were made up by the time we arrived, we were unprepared with our map examinations. We headed off for the puffin holes which turned out to be a mistake. We wore ourselves out on the number 2 and number 10 attractions on the island, so in the end we didn't get to see Dun Aengus, which was the number one attraction and is written up in many of the books on ancient Ireland.
In fact the island of Aran is a one of the most bleak environments imaginable. It is limestone karstic (pronounced 'car-st' - flat tableland of carboniferous limestone eroded away by the falling rain) as far as the eye can see. It's amazing to think anyone ever eked out a living on the craggy surface. But the endless stone walls crisscrossing the island make testament to the value of every square inch of property and the fact that animal farming had hold on the land since earliest times.
We managed to find the Black Fort, which is similar to Dun Aengus. To find it one wanders through a maze of fences, karstic ditches and overhanging cliffs for a half mile to find the thick walls drifting from one cliff face to another, overlooking the stony edge of the world.
The weather was the only thing beautiful about the island, and according to the locals the weather we were having was an exception to the norm. (It only rained once on us, and then only lightly for a half hour.)
We tried in vain to cycle to Dun Aengus, but with our time running out to catch the return ferry, we had to settle for some photos of authentic cottages and a hike up to Dun Aran. We lay exhausted on the ferry next to a nun from Italy who had collapsed after escorting a youth group of about 20.
Our propane tank was empty when we got back from the island. So we attached the tank we'd bought in Clifton, and disaster struck. The regulator got stuck in the bottle! There was a defect visible in the thread, and Henry tried unsuccessfully to clean the thread out with the regulator, causing the regulator to leave it's brass fitting stuck in the bottle. We resigned ourselves to needing to throw out all the perishables in the fridge.
We returned to our parking lot outside the cathedral in Galway and finished with a visit to Caitriona's where we picked up the rest of our laundry (which they'd finished for us).
Monday, July 5, 1999; Galway & County Clare:
Got going into the town center by 9am. Dropped off film for 1 hour development to test the zoom lens, had breakfast and visited outdoor stores looking for a solution to Kath's ill-fitting pack and our stuck butane gas bottle.
We found a camping store that was willing to take our bottle but insisted on charging us for the gas inside it (even though we were giving them a full bottle which we figured they'd have to be reimbursed from by the bottle provider). They wouldn't budge and suddenly we were the obnoxious American tourists who wanted everything their way. (That 'the customer is always right' ethic just isn't as prevalent here.) We had to swallow our indignity and take their offer because driving back to Clifton where we bought the bottle just wasn't an option.
We repaired the van's gas system with the new regulator we'd bought and replenished our supplies at a Tesco outside town. The weather was even more beautiful than the day before. We finally couaght the N6 to the N18 heading south toward the Poulabrone Dolmen and Milltown Malbay where a Celtic Music festival was starting that day. At Newtown Castle we turned south off the primary road to the secondary one.
The dolmen was beautiful and deserted, but as with many of the sites we'd seen it was exaggerated by the photography it'd received. In the photos we had people were tiny looking up at it. Turns out they were standing in a natural depression in front and away from the dolmen, pointing up at it. Turns out it's only slightly taller than a person. However, the lighting was gorgeous and sun-dogs were visible on both sides of our setting star. We got a load of wonderful pictures and mental images. Drove on to a very nice gravel parking spot on top of the mountains. Had protein shakes Selected images for the website and started reading. Went to bed around midnight.
Tuesday, July 6, 1999; County Clare, Cliffs of Mohar, Milltown Malbay:
Woke at 9am and had a "down day" relaxing in the van until late afternoon. We worked on cropping images, more reading about the builders of the megaliths (in preparation for our possible book proposal), and planning for the rest of our trip.
Around 5pm we started moving again. Continued down the road south until we came to the next major road to the west. Took that through Ennistimon to Lehinch and then north to the Cliffs of Moher. There we ogled the immense limestone and shale cliffs under an overcast sky with the sun punching brilliant shafts of light down to the ocean halfway to the horizon. We could see the Islands of Aran misty gray near the bolts of sunlight.
Returning to our van we had stir fry with Aduki beans, vegetables, rice, and a plum sauce. Then we left the parking lot around 8pm (we'd stayed so late the attendant who took a pound from everyone wasnt there, so we got to park for free!) we headed for Milltown Malbay where the International Celtic Music Festival was being held.
There we happened to bump into Patrick and Deborah, who played at our wedding and who got married just two weeks earlier. They were on their honeymoon and they had bumped into a friend of theirs named Peter who was on holiday with his cute-as-possible Swiss girlfriend Simone. They communicated through a common second language (German) which Peter had to brush up on for his relationship. Some motivation. Peter is an American research conservation zoologist studying frogs in Switzerland, and Simone is preparing to go to university for music in the fall (when she's not adorably giggling at her lack of English vocabulary.)
The streets were crammed with cars on the roads and parked on the sidewalks. Groups of musicians talked on every curb and queues spilled out of every pub. According to Patrick and Peter the townsfolk get tired of the festival crowd and the pubs, though packed with excellent sessions, become an experience of crushing bodies and substance wracked socializing amongst strangers. The local musicians all head north to neighboring towns, so we decided to follow them to Mullagh. We met them as we parked and walked to Cooney's Pub. Exchanging e-mail and phone numbers Peter gave us the promise of a place to stay in Zurich. They left us after a quick drink and Sophia was visibly relieved -- hanging out when you can't understand but one word in 100 is one of life's exhausting experiences.
We stayed another hour while Henry had his first Irish Cider. Yummy but not out of the world, possibly because it was canned, not draft. He'll try again some place that has it on tap. The overcast weather had turned to rain, so we back tracked through Milltown toward Ennis, cautious of drunk drivers and slick patches in the road. Around 1am we found a parking spot in a gravel quarry of some sort. Hoping they didn't work it every day we parked and turned in immediately.
Wednesday, July 7, 1999; County Clare, Ennis and Limerick:
Henry woke at 9:30 and began working on webpage material. The sky was a matching gray to the wet piles of gravel surrounding our van. Happily there was no activity at our campsite except for Henry shambling out to pour out the POs.
We finally got going after lunch and headed toward Enis where we took pictures of the Quin Abbey and drove past the Knappogue castle. We stopped at the Craggaunowen Project where they had reconstructed Neolithic and Bronze and Iron Age villages. They also had the boat used in 1976-77 to reconstruct Saint Brendan's voyage of discovery of the new world.
Took a nap in the parking lot and headed on south at 6pm. Saw Bunratty Castle where they have figured out how to appeal to the tourist. The hotels, gift shops, and of course, the castle called to us, but also yelled to us that they were way out of our price range.
We skirted the north of Limerick on the N6, stopping only for water, and headed south on the R512. We found the Lough Gur stone circle and camped at the Lough Gur parking lot. It was an absolutely beautiful evening. We had veggi burgers and read and worked on the website until almost 1am.
Thursday, July 8, 1999; Lough Gur:
Woke up between 9:30 and 10. Confirmed that neither the CD burner nor the refrigerator were working properly. Mentally added that to our list of things to address. We'd have to try again to do a backup later - perhaps only run the CD burner from the power system, not both the burner and the computer. Or perhaps it was the 'Y' cable we used to allow us to run the CD player at the same time as our power converter. Hmmm.
The fridge is definitely not as cold as it was before we switched the regulator. We're planning to look for a different type at the next camping store we see.
Worked on reviewing the webpages. Got as far as Carrowmore last night, still have a lot to go.
Around noon we got going to the sights around Lough Gur. The visitor's center had a pleasant slide show and a brochure showing where to find the sights at the lake. There were the remains of the stone foundations for the waddle and daub homes we'd seen reconstructed yesterday. There was an actual Crannog (remains of an artificial island which served the wealthy of the Stone Age as home compounds) and a wedge tomb (our first). The most fun site, though, was the huge Grange Stone Circle, billed as the largest stone circle in Ireland. It's a summer solstice oriented site with a pair of stones on one side set to receive the beam of sun sent from the entrance across the 40 yard wide circle.
We tromped across the neighboring fields to the Stone Pillar, a very impressive stone (listing now) which was at least eight feet above the current ground level.
We exercised with the nylon bands before having shakes for lunch. Hopefully we can make it more of a habit. The weather today was very hot, deflating a lot of our ambition to get about.
Turning the van toward the coast, we drove south on R512 to Bruff where we turned west on R516 to Croom. Heading north from there on N20 we quickly arrived at Patrickswell and took the N21 southwest toward Tralee.
As we were driving we listened once again to the news on the radio. Same stories over an over -- the big news was some minor politician's trial for corruption with his campaign contributions. Suddenly we realized that the whole population of Ireland is smaller than the population of NYC. That's why the news doesnt seem like national news. They still read obituaries over the air -- a morbid way to give that small-town feel.
We called from a payphone and Kathleen's friend Ann drove from her home near Finlee to meet us in the parking lot next to a double decker McDonalds bus. The restaurant was full of beet red adolescents glowing from their unrestrained worship of Mr. Sun.
Ann took us back to her place where she when on and on about how great it was to have the sun beat down on her unprotected skin for a whole day. She served us a pasta dinner with a splendid tomato sauce. Afterwards, Henry stayed behind and worked on the webpage while Kathleen and Ann went into town for craic.
Friday, July 9, 1999; Fennit:
Woke to an absolutely gorgeous day. The Slieve mountains are visible across the bay have a purple-green sheen in the gray humid air. The sun is blazing not too hotly through a light blue sky (not developed into clouds, but full of moisture). And the air is sweet with scents of wildflowers and cool enough to feel comfortable despite the sun.
Ann's rented flat is enormous. Any two rooms would equal our entire apartment in NY and exceed the size of most homes in Ireland.
We had luxurious showers in the morning and set about our house-based activities. We started doing our laundry, Kathleen started developing the 25 rolls of B&W she'd accumulated and Henry began trying to sort out why the CD Rom burner wasn't working (it's vital we make backups).
By the afternoon we'd finished the wash, gotten the backup working, and done three sets of film. We biked into Fennit around 5pm and watched the Irish enjoying their second truly sunny day in a row. There were even more beet red youngsters about. The news was showing reports from doctors at Bristol who said the sun in moderation wasnt a bad thing after all.
Got milk and fruit at the small grocer in town and returned to Ann's. She called around 8 to let us know she was staying out for the evening, so we had a pasta dinner and watched Fatal Instinct on the BBC cable.
Saturday, July 10, 1999; Fennit:
Made another domestic day out of our time at Ann's. Woke late and continued developing film, visiting with Ann and the neighbor's kids, and taking care of webpage work. Uploaded the webpage and made our first on-line trades ever.
In the evening, Kathleen went to Kilarney with Ann to visit with her new roommate. Henry stayed home and watched Sci-fi on TV.
Sunday, July 11, 1999; Fennit & Dingle peninsula:
Continued working on computer stuff and visiting with Ann while the weather was overcast. By 4pm as the sky began to clear we decided to go on and after lengthy Irish good-byes we drove back to Tralee and then south-west along the N86 all the way past Dingle. The sky was beautifully clear and we could see Pub near Ann's house from the lookout over Tralee Bay.
We saw a series of stones marked on our map, so we attempted to find them by following a sign to 'Burial Grounds.' Turned out the signs took us to an unused cemetery with overgrown and in some cases collapsed graves. We even saw one where the coffin looked like it had become exposed and the shoes of the buried person were showing! Very spooky. Decided to return the following day.
Monday, July 12, 1999; Dingle and Ring of Kerry:
Returned to the graveyard and took many pictures. The collapsed grave continued to look like the real thing (we were trying to decide if the shoes were placed their by pranksters or really unearthed burial shoes attached to disappeared feet). There were five shoes visible, one pair of mens shoes and one pair of more feminine looking shoes and a sandal. Whatever the case for the shoes, the edges of the coffin looked all too real (there was a brass handle on one side). The grave didnt have a date on it so it was hard to tell if the shoes should have been gone or not. Creepy.
We met three men on holiday visiting the grave of the aunt of one of them. They told us the graveyard was full and there were probably only a couple of burials left by relatives of those already in the yard. It was originally the graveyard for Lord Ventry (of English descent), and his families was the enormous church like tomb near the bottom of the cemetery.
After the graveyard we continued on around the Dingle peninsula. The weather was clear, the water blue and the land green until we turned inland on the north side of the peninsula. Then as if the schedule time had come, someone turned a switch and the sky turned overcast. We drove back past Dingle toward Killarney worried that our day for observing the Ring of Kerry would be ruined. Then we realized it was already 6:30 and so we werent going to have the day for Kerry anyway.
But once we got back to Tralee the weather was improved. We turned south on N21 and caught N22 into Killarney. We followed the signs to the Ring of Kerry, stopping only to collect some score cards at golf courses for Dan. The signs had directed us onto N72 for a clockwise tour of the Ring of Kerry.
Looking to the north we saw the Dingle peninsula. Clouds huged the contours of the Slieve Mish Mountains as if an evil wizard had cast a spell enshrouding the land in mist.
Had a small scare in that the power converter wouldnt work. We ended up discovering there was a loose wire somehow in the 12volt plug. If you slightly unscrew the top, then screw it back on, it seems to work just fine.
The Ring of Kerry is indeed beautiful. Like the Dingle, its green lands, blue green water and toy-like sheep farms.
We had dinner on a lookout viewing Dingle Bay. Then we drove on and waited until we got past Cahersiveen to turn off on a side road to the Valencia Island Ferry. From that road we took a gravel road and immediately found a wide patch where we parked for the night. Bedtime was 11:30.
Tuesday, July 13, 1999; Ring of Kerry:
Woke at 6:30 and put on eye masks. Then woke again at 9:30 to the sound of someone tapping on our window. Henry poked his head out and saw a car parked next to us on the gravel road. There was a women smoking in the passenger side and he asked her if shed knocked on our windows.
"I didnt touch your windows," she said.
Hmmm, Henry thought.
"Is there any problem?" Henry asked.
"This is a public road," she said. "Were just waiting for a bus on this public road. Theres no problem."
A nod was as good as a wink from that department. We went back to bed and Kathleen decided it must have been that women and thats why she was so defensive.
The weather was cold and rainy, so we stayed put, relaxing, doing yoga and computer work until after 1pm.
Drove the Ring of Kerry. Beyond beautiful theres not much to say.
Hung out at Killarney and enjoyed the tourist scene: Americans dancing Irish Step dancing to a paid band for Americans.
Wednesday, July 14, 1999; Killarney and driving to Harristown Dolmen:
Stayed in Killarney till about 2pm cruising on the internet doing book research and looking for a replacement power inverter. (Turned out fiddling with the plug didnt fix it. We realized wed overtaxed it with the CD burner and the Laptop at the same time and now it wont even run the laptop by itself.)
Became thoroughly annoyed Lisa, the secretary who almost wouldnt help us on our long distance call to Northern Arizona Wind and Sun Inc.. But we finally got our order in for a replacement power inverter ($65 for the inverter and $61 for two day shipping to Dublin.)
Started driving toward Newgrange and only made it as far as the Harristown Dolmen, which was amazing as the largest in Ireland. Decided to camp next to it (outside a lonely bulls pasture) because wed missed the light.
Thursday, July 15, 1999; Drive to Newgrange:
Woke at 6:30 and got straight to work photographing the Dolmen.
Stopped at the Moone High cross where archaeologists were hard at work excavating the church around the cross. It was their second year in a row. The cross was an incredible piece of work dating back to the earliest Christian times.
Made it to Newgrange/Knowth/Dowth at about 2:30. They had built an elaborate new visitors center. All access to the monuments was through shuttle bus only and access to Dowth wasnt allowed for the public. Because Knowth had partially collapsed they didnt allow anyone inside. Restoration work was going on all around the monument with cranes and artists in hard hats all going about unnamed jobs.
Then we went inside Newgrange. It was a moving experience indeed. Afterwards we went to take photos in the full size replica theyd made. It seemed the replica was intended for people with disabilities, etc. to be able to see what the interior looked like. Theyd replaced the uneven floor with a nice smooth ramp and only reproduced the hallway stones on one side so that anyone could walk up to the chamber. The cruciform chamber was reproduced in stunning detail, giving one an eerie dreamlike feeling that one had been there before. (We were allowed to take pictures inside the replica.
We drove on to Loughcrew (passing through Kells, but the High Cross was closed) and camped at the parking lot. We both turned in by 10 since we were exhausted. At midnight we were awakened by the presence of a car that parked right next to us. After wondering for a good while what the deal with the car was, and not sleeping for about an hour, we finally saw them light up and heard the girl giggling. Ah yes, the country life.
Friday, July 16, 1999; Loughcrew & Drive to Gort Muire outside Dublin:
The staff arrived at 9:30 and we got going at 10. The weather was cool enough but threatening rain. The women in the ticket booth suggested we skip Cairn T (which wed visited the night before but not entered) and go instead to the hilltop with Cairn L, which is unique in that it hasnt got a cruciform chamber, but instead a seven-bay chamber with a standing stone (probably added in the Bronze age). They gave us the key for two hours with a £20 deposit and we though no way well need two hours.
Of course we were late bringing it back because there was so much cool stuff up there to see. Theyd deliberately left one of the sites (Cairn A) exposed to the sky because its a textbook example of a cruciform chamber with the larger left hand side including a flat stone and lots of spiral rock art. The main cairn was fascinating and photogenic with several beautiful spiral carvings.
After the site, we ran off toward Dublin, stopping along the way to take pictures of some cottages and buy a booklet on Loughcrew.
We couldnt find a map of Dublin, but were able to reach someone at Gort Muire who gave us great directions. We arrived around 4pm and began looking for Father Robert Kelley. Kathleen knew him as Michael Kelley, but his ordained name is Robert and the people there call him Bob, so we had some confusion over the phone as to who we were trying to reach. Hes the director of the conference center which is run by Carmelites (started by hermits on Mount Carmel in Israel) so we got a lot of special treatment as his friends.
Father Kelley was no where to be found, so we returned to our van and had dinner. We kept returning and people kept trying to help us out until we finally met Michael for tea around 9pm.
We had a great time visiting in their mess hall and Michael set us up with toilets, showers and Father Hugh. Hugh has a electronic setup in his room of which he seems secretly proud. Normally monks and fathers have no personal possessions, but Hughs are used for church purposes as well as entertainment so its OK. Everyone here looks up to Hugh as the alpha-geek of the monastery. One of the other fathers, Father Robert McCabe, whos on his annual leave from his mission in Kenya, is grateful for Hughs help with putting together a book on tropical diseases of which hes become a lecturing expert (hes also an MD).
All in all the community here is proving to be quite interesting.
When we returned to our van with the much awaited new power converter, we made a disappointing discovery. We hadnt burnt out the old one (a good thing) wed run down our battery. Even though the lights and water pump work just fine the converters are detecting a lower voltage and shutting themselves down. So we never needed to bother to order and ship the new one. L So now we need to get the battery charged as well as the fridge fixed and well need to take more care to unplug the computer once its finished charging.
Saturday, July 17, 1999; Dublin:
We awoke around 9:30 and tried to phone a place about fixing our fridge.
Were finding the growth in affluence in Ireland is beginning to outstrip the infrastructure, and it's especially noticable in the cities. There's no place to park and the roads are crammed with traffic and you know where that leads. Did you know a former miss Ireland was convicted of 'road rage' a couple of weeks back -- she cussed out a Gardee calling him a Bastard and it got her public humiliation and a few hundred pound fine. The busses here in Dublin underserve the city. We waited at a stop on the south of the city center for 45 minutes while two busses (when there should have been four busses going past) just drove past because they were full. We thought we'd be home by 6pm and take a shot at seeing Star Wars (on day 2 in Europe) but we had to walk back to city center to catch the bus where it left (the only place one could get on) and didn't arrive home until quarter past eight.
Sunday, July 18, 1999; Dublin:
Woke around 10 and the weather was gray (again). We decided to hang around the monastery for Mass and experience a Sunday morning with the priests.
Their mass was intimate. They spoke the entire ceremony in English and every part that could be done by a women was. It was short and sweet, with the sermon dealing with the recent death of revered members of the community. The fathers with whom wed been visiting danced through the ceremony with the ease of those whod done this every day for years. Unlike many masses, all the congregation was seated above the altar which was positioned between the pews. We were able to look down o the sacrament being prepared. It made us feel like privileged insiders of the catholic hierarchy.
Before breakfast we were invited to the lounge room. There we connected with the dorm-like lifestyle that these men live. They were tapping into their mixed drinks and beers while they watched Irish football (different from American football and soccer). After an hour, we moved on to a scrumptious breakfast in the dining hall. Fresh melon slices with orange sauce, popovers, fresh steamed vegetables and baked potatoes. Father McCabe and Hugo were at our table together with Brother Vallentino whos a Romanian visiting from Italy.
From the breakfast hall we were invited back to the lounge room for papers and more football. We read about the search for Kennedy JRs crashed plane.
While Henry was watching trying to figure out the rules behind Irish football, one of the players scored a goal. The camera zoomed in on his smiling face just as the goalie came up and hit him. A brawl ensued and the priests were saying "theres no cause for that now." But then after the wronged player got up, one of the priests yelled, "now kick him in the head while hes down!"
Thats the fightn Irish for ya.
After a while, we took a break in our van and then caught the bus to Tallaght where we saw Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace. We knew it wasnt getting good reviews, but even so we were disappointed. While the special effects were superb, we felt Lucas should have kept the script tighter and dumped the stupid digital sidekick for the Obi Wan/Liam Neeson duo. Oh well.
We took the bus back and went to bed about 11. Kathleen wasnt feeling good and Henry had Star Wars imagery running though his mind all night.
Monday, July 19, 1999; Dublin:
The weather was downright rainy all day long. We packed up the van got on the road at 9 getting lost twice trying to find Peter the caravan repairman at Bremmer road. We were also looking for a piece of glass so Kathleen could do her contact sheet developing.
We finally made it around 10 and split up. Henry stayed with Peter and together they removed the fridge and cleaned the heating element in the hope that it would fix the problem and make it work better. Kathleen caught the bus to the town center to go to the public lab and print contact sheets. After fixing the fridge, Henry got camping gas and caught the bus to the town center to do research on non-fiction writing and Irish megaliths.
Kathleen made it to the lab at 11:30 and Henry made it to the National Library at 2. Kathleen joined Henry in the reading room at 5:30. Together we went to a café and reviewed Kathleens contact sheets. Then we missed the 48A bus and caught the 75 bus to Dundrum. Walked back and made it home about 8pm.
Looks like the cleaning job fixed the fridge. At least it was freezing stuff, though it was now on Max and only time will tell if itll really work as it needs to when we hit the hot countries. But it seemed much better than it had the day before.
After re-heating the rice and beans from the night before, we wrote some e-mails and walked up to camp out again in Father Hugos room where we downloaded 3D VRML authoring software and collected our e-mail. We began watching an engrossing program on the troubles in Northern Ireland which focused on interviews with Loyalists in jail.
We stayed up till the end and then went home to sleep.
Tuesday, July 20, 1999; Dublin:
Rode our bikes into town. It was a day fraught with rainy spells. We went to Dúcas and were referred to the photographic unit down the street. The actual fellow we needed to speak with wasnt there, but we obtained a price list for images from their archive. We also got the distinct impression that finding the pictures we needed would be a time consuming affair since their technical setup did not seem that sophisticated. They didnt, for example, have a catalog we could peruse, but indicated wed need to sit down with someone and describe our needs more carefully.
We then went to the National Gallery and were quite taken by the Yeats gallery. WB Yeats father was John Butler Yeats and he had four children. William Butler Yeats is of course the famous poet, but his brother Jack B Yeats was a famous impressionist painter (for whom the National Gallery is named, since he was the first world renowned painter from Ireland). Their two sisters were also accomplished in the arts and culture of Ireland.
We hurried back to Gort Muire so as to meet Father Robert McCabe for a showing of his photographs from Kenya. He is a serious and remarkable man. At 73 he spends nine months out of every year in northern Kenya giving medical aid (hes the only medical doctor in the Carmelite order) and running their mission. He lives where theres no phone, no electricity, and the mail only goes out when one is lucky. He showed us pictures of the proud but sad nomadic people in his area, including the Massai (spelling here is suspect) who are the same tribe Henrys college anthropology professor studied. Their traditional diet is made of milk and blood from their camels, sheep and goats. But drought has meant their diet has become degraded with an ensuing increase in malnutrition and disease.
After leaving the inspiring Father McCabe, we went out to a local pub with Father Robert (Michael) Kelly, our benefactor. We wrapped ourselves in the modern comforts of a warm and well lit establishment with a table full of cold beer.
As the Guinness made us lightheaded we talked about the current state of the church and society. Michael seemed philosophic about the decline of church influence. He actually seemed to imply it might be a good thing because there is a shortage of priests to hold mass. That seemed a bit chicken-or-the-egg, but oh well. In the end though he really struck both of as enlightened on the subject. He used the example of how much the world had changed from Dark Ages to Renaissance to the present. "Why should the world stay the same as it was 100 years ago," he said. "It never stopped still before." He used the word 'cyclic' but I got the distinct sense he wasn't making a prediction (as many do) about the future swinging 'back' somehow. He was simply saying the future was going to be different from the past and if that meant the church was in decline, well that's all part of change, now, isn't it...
We asked him what he was going to do after his term as Provincial expires next year (they are elected to 7 year terms by the other members of the order in Ireland). He immediately talked about his history (to put it all in context for us, I suppose) and made it clear he didn't want to start visioning his new life too far in advance of the time -- another wise action on his part.
When we returned, Kathleen worked on e-mails and Henry took a long bath in the deserted upstairs communal bathroom. It's been a special feeling here at Gort Muire, haunting the Carmelite monastery with late night trips to the showers and baths and Father Hugo's room (where we found a magical connection to the Internet). We walk through the unnaturally quiet halls built large for conferences (now mostly empty), and the squeaking of our shoes blasts down shadowy halls. The bathrooms and doorways are huge and our solitary presence makes us feel small, but in a safe sort of way.
Wednesday, July 21, 1999; Dublin:
Woke around 9am and made a call to Paul Walsh at the Ordinance Survey office trying to set up an appointment. He was immensely helpful, so much so we decided we didnt need to go to the OS at all. He gave us several contacts within Dúcas at the center of town.
The weather was so blustery we decided to forego riding our bikes and took the bus in instead. Starting out at the Library of Congress, we looked for the Guide to Megalithic Monuments: Volume V: Sligo but they didnt have any reference for it in their catalog. They didnt have most of the of the substitute references we gave them either (they actually had other books with the same reference). They guy who brings books from the stacks said they have a lot of missing or miss-cataloged books. All in all it was a frustrating experience showing how far this nation still has to go before their infrastructure is up to their needs.
Fortunately we had much better luck back at Dúcas. There we were able to find the book we needed in the library (where we were able to make copies for free) and upon visiting the Geographic Information Service for Dúcas, (there is department) we got a diskette with the database of classifications of monuments and the promise that the database of monuments itself would be available on the internet in two months time.
Armed with this much success, we headed off to see the Book of Kells but decided at £4.50 for Henry alone, it was too expensive. Guess that must say something about us. We beat the rush hour bus throngs back to Gort Muire and did our grocery shopping and topping off on petrol. They had a top gate over the compound to discourage Travellers from coming in and camping out for the travelling Galway races. We found out from Father Kelley that theyd had trouble at one of their schools where once the Travellers park their caravans, to get them to move they demand compensation for their inconvenience - £700 a caravan! Father Kelley said he could just see the headlines now: "Carmelite priests evict Travellers." So to avoid that situation, they lock the gates every night and they have a tall vehicle barrier locked in the early evening. Perhaps thats one of the reasons behind other of those barriers weve seen in other places.
The evening closed with very blustery weather. We had some last e-mails and scanning in Father Hughs room and said our good-byes to our friends Fathers McCabe, Hugh, & Kelly.
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