Ireland: Cleggan, Galway, Connemara, and Inishbofin

My last two days in Ireland were a thrill, consisting of horseback riding and deep sea fishing.

On the second to last day we woke up early to get to Cleggan for horseback riding. I now have a new appreciation for people that ride horses as my groin is still sore from telling the horse to go faster. When we arrived at the Cleggan Riding Centre. I had no idea what to expect. We were giving riding boots and helmets after we filled out a survey to say how many times we have rode a horse. Ironically, they gave me Henry to ride -- the same name that Emily's godson gave my Toyota. He was a nice black Clydesdale.  I remember as we were getting ready to leave the stable flies were attacking the horses and the riders and the horse were getting quite unsettled. They tried to do everything to get them off, while not throwing us off their backs! They gave us a quick 10 minutes tutorial on how to ride a horse -- showing us how to turn, walk, and trot the horse... and most importantly how to stop!

We rode to Omey Island, which was this gorgeous little "tidal" island that was hardly an island during low tide. During low tide, a gigantic beach created a rode to the island, which you would drive on if you wanted to get to Omey. On the beach in between the mainland and the island, we rode the horses. We even took them in the water to trot. At one point, Brenny's horse Barney, the alpha of the group, started to run past me... Immediately my horse started to gallop! Scarred the daylights out of me.

By the time we got back to the Currarevagh House we were all conked. However, we had a one hour turn around before we headed into Galway for dinner and a show. After eating a lovely meal at the Galway Bay Hotel, we went downstairs to the basement to see the "show" that Mr. Quinn had been talking up. While some wanted to check out the Galway pub seen, the Trad on the Prom ended up being a fantastic show. Top musicians and a whirl of Irish Tap Dancers caused the audience to roar. It was really a spectacular show. One of the step dancers twisted his ankle and they gave a quarter-by-quarter update on his injury status. It was almost comical how in depth they were going about his injury.

The next morning was another early wake up because we were going to go touring around Connemara on Shane's boat and then go deep sea fishing. This was probably my favorite day. We got to the Shane's boat around 1030 and left the mainland. On our way to Inishbofin, we stopped by these incredible cliffs. Towering over 200ft high, the cliffs had tons of different birds flying around -- every kind of Puffin and their cousin. Our captain's boat had a very shallow draft so he was able to get within ten feet of the cliffs. I was scared we might crash! While some rave about the Cliffs of Moehr, I really think these are far more exciting and breath-taking.

                                    Brian and Brenny

                                   Brian and Brenny

After we toured around the cliffs, we stopped at an island called Inishbofin, meaning "Island of the White Cow." The only pub on the island, we had a fantastic lunch of burgers and lobster. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Quinn got food poisoning and didn't feel very well for the rest of the day. After lunch, we went deep sea fishing. Unlike America deep sea fishing, the Irish like to attach 4 or even 5 hooks to their line. So sometimes people were catching up to 4 fish at a time, unbelievable! We must have caught over a 100 fish in a span of two hours.

                                                           Why didn't we ever think of using four hooks per rod?

                                                          Why didn't we ever think of using four hooks per rod?

After the fantastic day on the boat we headed for our hotel. Over looking Connemara, the Rose League Manor was one of the most spectacular hotels in Ireland. We had a very nice meal. Everyone around us was sitting in twos or threes and being very quiet. With our group of seven we lit up the dining room. The meal was remarkable and we all shared some great laughs. Unfortunately, it was my last night with the Quinn's. I can't thank them enough for including me on the trip. Furthermore, Mr. Quinn did an amazing job planning a stellar itinerary full of amazing attractions. The trip was magical and I am truly grateful for the experience.

Now I am in the Philly airport waiting for my transfer to Boston. I will spend the night at the Villa's and then head for the Vineyard to lead Vineyard Service. I hope Emily is enjoying her time on Cornwall and am so excited to see some of her photos and blogs from the weekend trip.

Cheers,

Louie

Ireland: The Land of Saints and Scholars

   Highest tower in the Aran Islands

  Highest tower in the Aran Islands

Arriving in Ireland two days ago was exhilarating. Needless to say, I am just extremely happy that they speak English in Ireland, because things could have gone terribly wrong. I left Emily at 830am on Saturday morning to cross the Irish Sea. We had such a blast together, and it is so fun to think that it is only the beginning of traveling with her overseas. I took the National Express bus out of Bath to Heathrow for 20 pounds. It was quite simple and painless, two hours exactly. I mostly slept and read my book about Winston Churchill that the Villa's gave me for my graduation present. I absolutely love it. Once I arrived at Heathrow, I had tons of time to spare since my flight did not leave until 315pm.

Arriving in Shannon around 515pm, I did tons of research on how I was going to get to Doolin from the Shannon airport. There were two options. I could either get a bus that would leave the airport at 555pm or have to take a taxi for 90 euro. The only problem was that it was the last bus out of Shannon for the night. So as I was sitting in front of the departures list waiting to get my gate departure the unexpected came up. My flight was delayed. So, not even having left England, I was having to cope with the fact that I was going to have to pay up 90 euros. Once I arrived in Shannon it was too late for the bus, so I got a ride from a nice Irishman.

The scenery on the drive up to Doolin from Shannon was just incredible. Once I arrived to Doolin, my cab driver dropped me off at my Bed and Breakfast. Turns out they put me down for the wrong night and they weren't taking anyone that Saturday night. So... the frantic lady at the first Bed and Breakfast called next door to her son "Frank" to see if he had any rooms. Thankfully he did. So I rolled my bags next door and got a room at Frank's. It was perfect and he was extremely nice. I think walked farther down towards the "village" to see what else was there. I walked past the pub to see if there was anything else farther down the road to the ferries.

I walked by a pitch and putt golf course and decided to play 18 holes at 9pm that night! It was a blast. 

Then I got some fish and chips and a few pints of Guinness. And I met a friend named Brian "Squash" McManagan. We went bar hopping that night, probably walking over three miles since the bars are all a mile apart!

The next morning I woke up ready to meet up with the Quinns on the Aran Islands. After Frank cooked me up a mean Traditional Irish Breakfast, he offered to drive me down to the ferries. I hopped on the ferry at 1030 and made it to the Islands by 1215.

                                                                                    A dolphin by the docks!

                                                                                   A dolphin by the docks!

Once I hopped off the ferry, I had nice burger. After lunch we got on bikes and rode. We must have biked over 14 kilometres! Check out what we saw on our bike ride.

                                                   Danny and Brendan after we biked up a treacherous mtn.

                                                  Danny and Brendan after we biked up a treacherous mtn.

                                                                          Hello, or should we say moo.

                                                                         Hello, or should we say moo.

We went swimming in our skivvies. The water was so clear.

 A horse came up to me while I was biking and asked to be petted. I told him that I was sorry that I didn't have an apple. 

A horse came up to me while I was biking and asked to be petted. I told him that I was sorry that I didn't have an apple. 

Once we got back to village, we boarded the ferry at 4pm. Quite the day of boating. We arrived back at our hotel in Doolin around 630pm. As it turns out, Mr. Quinn quite the driver of the family. I safely have chosen to drive with Uncle Jimmy for the remainder of the trip. 

After a pleasant dinner, we went bar hopping again in Doolin to see some live music. The live Irish music was such a blast. It was a little funny to see a bar packed at 11pm on a Sunday, but hey it's Ireland! I saw an Elbow Bag Pipe for the first time last night. Lots of respect.

Today we woke up, had breakfast, and got on the road. We arrived to the Currarevagh House by 11am. Got on some warm gear and walked down to the lake to go fishing! The Currarevagh House was a spectacular, rustic looking hunting lodge for fisherman and hunters. 

Brian, Danny, and I were on the same boat together before lunch. For lunch, we stopped off on the side of the lake, and the three guides made us a fire and we unpacked our lunches that the hotel made us. It was a pleasant picnic with sandwiches, Guinness, cheddar cheese, and tea! After lunch, the men stayed out to catch some fish while the boys and girls went back because it was too cold. I'm glad I had Brian in the boat with me, because I was getting really annoyed that he caught two fish and I hadn't caught any! And then, my rod started to bend... and I hooked one! Fish onnnn. 

                                                                               2 Lbs. Brown Trout. Nbd.

                                                                              2 Lbs. Brown Trout. Nbd.

 Mrs. Quinn and the guides

Mrs. Quinn and the guides

The weather was a tad bit cold and a bit rainy. But with the result of 2 pound fish, it was well worth it! My young protege, Danny Quinn came away with the biggest fish. 

However, it was not the prettiest (ignore the picture enhancing). Tomorrow morning we will eat them for breakfast! See you all soon! Hoping Emily has had a good first day of class on the other side of the sea, excited to hear from her tonight.

Love, 

JR