Enjoying a slice of life in the Northwest Counties.
June 25 & 26, 1999:
We drove south from the Inishowen peninsula, passing the Grianan of Aileach we'd visited from Londonderry. Our eyes were peeled from our excitement to be getting into the Republic of Ireland. (Interestingly, the further away we went from troubled Northern Ireland, the more graffiti in the men's bathrooms turned from political back to that ubiquitously lewd male specialty.)
To the left you see a typical scene of peat cut from the bog and left to dry. When the country was in the midst of its depression early in this century, the government built people small cottages on a quarter acre, and gave them a piece of bog. With a roof over ones head and land enough for chickens and a goat, and peat bog to burn in the fire, a family could live reasonably self sufficiently. Peat is still burned everywhere for warmth.
Fishing and farming are major sources of lively-hood here in the north of the Republic. These are some of the larger boats we saw,
and these were some of the older.
We took our bikes off the van and went for our first bike ride in Europe. A straightforward trek down Loch Ghleann Bheatha in the heart of Glenveagh National Park. We stopped at the castle and hiked to the lookout point.
Kathleen did her invigorating yoga and Henry did his revitalizing napping.
In Letterkenny we discovered an intriguing solution to the question of whether to take the escalator or the elevator. This spacious indoor mall was equipped with neither, sporting a rampscilator instead.
In another of our navigational mishaps, we drove right under this cross looking for it. Delphine, a retired English lady from Sussex, directed us to it after dinner, then invited us in for tea.
She and her husband Chris told us not to miss the horseshoe, with incredible views of mountains which were cut away into cliffs by the ocean that reigned here in Carboniferous days.
This whole area is marked with signs for 'Yeats Country.' Yeats being a hero to all the Irish, he's claimed all over the countryside sort of like 'Washington slept here.' These mountains were marked as well, though we don't know why.
And oh the fun at Irish sessions! They are everywhere -- those traditional gatherings of unpaid musicians for craic (good fun) and tunes. We had to make a choice between three on the same street in Ardara -- on a Friday night every pub has one.
And on a Saturday, these folks were having their usual evening of dancing to accordion accompaniment.
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