Day Five – Exploring the west coast of Ireland and learning as we go.
On the road yet again, on a lovely sunny day, we headed north up the west Irish coast toward Galway. The land is flatter here and mosly agricultural. We saw people cutting peat to sell as fuel, men thatching a roof, and a golf course owned by Donald Trump. Kevin and Nora explained the Irish health care system, how peat is burned and how it preserves anything (or anyone) that is buried in it, the merits/problems with thatch, how to make authehntic Irish coffee, and golfing customs.
We drove to the River Shannon, the longest in the British Isles, and crossed it by ferry. Our first stop was the Cliffs of Moher, unique limestone cliffs dropping almost 700 feet to the sea. We enjoyed this majectic scenery, depending on energy and ability, either seated near the Visitors’ Center or hiking on trails near the cliffs.
Next we stopped nearby at the Burren, a 200-sq.-mile apparently barren stretch of limestone outcroppings near the sea. We were met there by Mary, the sister iof June Blake (owner of our first garden). Mary took us on a wildflower/geological tour at the edge of the Burren. We were excited to see the details and ancient history of this rich microcosm. High points included two plants that grow nowhere else (a limonium and an aster), fossils, and a prehistoric stone wall.
Our big bus had to get through some tight spots on these narrow roads. At one point, Kevin drove through such a tight spot that our mirror cleared another bus by about one inch! Kevin said he loves serving his country (by representing Ireland to tourists through his job). The Irish iove Americans. Tourism is a huge industry, and U.S. citizens are the largest customers. But Irish hospitality is not strained; it feels completely genuine. Today was Kevin’s last day with us, due to work hours restrictions. When he left us at our hotel, we had mutual sadness at the parting.
Again, the evening was our own. The Salt Hill Hotel is luxurious and faces Galway Bay. We look forward to being here for two nights and enjoying this lovely area.