Oh Ireland! Clonakilty, Skibberean, Baltimore, Sherkin Island and Traditional Irish Music!

Tuesday, July 2 to Baltimore and ferry ride to Sherkin  Island

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Walking Sherkin Island

Maeve just told me to take an early evening nap.  She wanted me refreshed to attend a traditional music session at the O’Donovan pub tonight and they always start late, at 9:30pm.

I decided to solo travel during my second week in Ireland and travel by bus to various villages I arrived in charming Clonakilty late Monday afternoon, and after several phone calls to Maeve’s Bed and Breakfast business, finally pointed myself in the right direction to reach my destination.

For Tuesday, my plan, and Maeve’s, was for her to drop me off at a famous Clonakilty sandy beach where I intended to stay most of the day lounging, hiking, and reading.  When done, I planned to walk the 2 ½ mile trail back to town.photo(10)

Tuesday, I woke to cloudy skies that signaled the beginning of  a perfect day for me.  However, Maeve, at breakfast informed, “Well Susan, our plans are changed, no beach day.”

One of the reason I picked the place is the Travel Advisor review logged excellent comments regarding Maeve’s hospitality and celebrated skill at planning enjoyable adventures for her guests.  In spite of that my inside voice still fired up,  “Our plans?  My friends are burning up in Boise in 100 plus degree heat, and I well be joining them soon enough.  I don’t mind a drizzle on the beach. I need to soak up this moisture.  I am going to the beach!”   Instead,  I smiled politely,  turned my care over to Maeve’s expert experience, and sat down to a delicious Irish breakfast.

Maeve returned with a coffee refill, a map and had plotted out my day for me.  A trip to Baltimore via the bus routes.   An exciting, agreeable journey and I had toyed with going there anyway.   I contemplated that I would pack my backpack and find a place to stay in Baltimore, as it is a coastal town and during the week easy to get a room.  However, as Maeve is talking, I can tell she has planned for me to go out for the day and return to her place for another night. And in all fairness, I had indicated I would stay two nights in Clonakilty and true to her reputation, Maeve has prepared for my stay.

photo(12)Inside voice fires up again,  “It is my journey, I am an adult, and I simply need to inform Maeve where I intend to stay.”  However, she was enchantingly firm in her plans for me, and further informed me that only on Tuesday evenings in Clonakilty a great traditional Irish set at O’Donovan’s gathers.   A pub she said is comfortable, safe, and roomy and I will hear some great music.

I loitered too long at breakfast and Maeve urged in her lyrical, soft Irish tone, “I think you should get on downtown, get yourself situated so you know where you are and can catch the bus on time.  Oh, sorry, don’t mean to be bossy but I think you will have a great time.”

She knows that I am a bit remorseful that I dallied so long getting out of Cork on Monday.  If I had gotten myself on the bus earlier, I would have arrived to a gorgeous sunny day that was perfect for a walk on the beach.  But that was Monday and no more looking in the rear view mirror. “What will be will be.”  It is Tuesday and I am to get moving.photo(6)

Off I went, and caught the first bus early to Skibberean where I transferred to the small village of Baltimore.  From there I caught a Ferry to Sherkin Island for a lovely trek to a beautiful beach.  In addition a bonus of foggy mist, and an Irish soft rain graced the walking path.

However, the rain faucet cranked up to a drenching flow as I got on the ferry and returned to Baltimore.  Soaking wet, I entered a pretty cafe on the harbor and ordered seafood chowder.  A delectable choice served with two pieces of tasty  brown Irish soda bread and butter.  The timing was perfect, I was able to check out a few craft shops and then catch the bus to begin the trek back to Maeve’s place.photo(8)

The bus ride both going to and coming from Baltimore is a narrow winding road and only a few men who had spent the rainy day in various pubs were riding that day.  The bus fragrant with whiskey and the banter between the men was damn funny.  One gentleman said he was going to divorce his wife so he could fish all the time if he wanted. Another informed me that many Irish men were marrying Russian women.  Doing the mail order bride deal.  “Wow ,”was really all I could manage to respond on that topic.

On the back to town the bus encountered a little car zooming dangerously  fast on the narrow road. The bus driver stopped and honked his horn at the “Fecking ijit.”

The other guy on the bus, “Well looks like that bloke got his rear-view mirror sheared off.”  (the car had to swerve into  hedges to avoid scraping against the bus)

Bus Driver – “Well serves the ijit right.”

Other guy – “Madness, I say, pure madness.

I arrived both elated and relaxed back to Maeve’s place, took her wise nap recommendation, and prepared to hear an evening of fantastic Irish music.

Ireland never fails to provide fantastic, soulful, humorous, and sparkly experiences.  The music was an incredible, authentic Irish set with about 15 musicians.  In addition, the woman leading the group educated the pub about the music and traditions of Ireland.  Gathering, playing instruments together, singing and telling stories.  In fact she shushed the pub up when someone was taking a turn at a song.  A cherished Irish moment occurred when the entire pub joined in singing a sweet song.  The unity of gentle voices embraced the crowd, time temporarily suspended and Ireland drew me lovingly into her lush green land.

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Oh Ireland and American Pie!

Dingle Harbor

Dingle Harbor

Miss Molly had a swollen face after a long overdue visit to the dentist to fill three cavities.  She asked me to stop and bring her a smoothie after I got off of work.  I went to the nearest smoothie-making place for a protein enriched berry mix delight to drop off at her apartment.   While waiting in line, a familiar and beloved song began to play on the store radio. 

American Pie by Don McLean filled up the cafe.  Always happy to hear the tune as it is a favorite for myself and many folks.   Furthermore, the song now instantly sparks a cherished memory from my recent trip to Ireland; a lovely and uniquely humorous Irish moment.

One of the weekend trips involved a trip to Dingle for a stay in the Dingle Harbour Lodge.   Dingle came highly recommended for its incredible coastline, beaches, and authentic Irish music. SAM_2413 A visit to a local music shop provided an itinerary that kept us busy attending several authentic Irish music concerts and recommendations to pubs to hear incredible musicians.

Ireland never fails to deliver ones deepest desire and hope.   Dingle staged a folk concert in St. James, an old church with outstanding musicians.  The guitar player was brilliant and came out singing, She Moves Through the Fair.  A haunting song performed in a clear voice after he told us how he had spent a great deal of time working with the song to get it to unfold and deliver according to his musical vision.   I struggle to find words how exquisite a moment that was.  The rest of the music group joined in after that tune and included a brilliant Uilleann pipe musician.SAM_2371

One evening I discovered that the music did not necessarily stay confined to the pubs or concert venues.   Saturday night, or rather early Sunday morning, a flurry of laughing and loud voices treated all the hotel guests  to a lovely crack of dawn concert provided by a group of Irish lads fresh from a bachelor party.Among their numerous, amazing repertoire of songs performed under our windows, they delivered an excellent, lively, sparkly rendition of America Pie.

Groggy with sleep and admittedly at first feeling a hint of crankiness, I quickly experienced a lightening of heart and spirit.   Even now the memory brings a smile to my face and in hindsight, I wish I had stuck my head out the window and requested them to sing Danny Boy for me!

 

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Oh Ireland, June 20, 2013

From the book – The House on an Irish Hillside – The author, Felicity Hayes-McCoy writes:
“There’s an ancient Irish belief in ‘places of resurrection’, where a spirit is happiest on earth and more in touch with eternity. The first time I crossed the mountains of Corca Dhuibhne I found my place of resurrection.”

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So Exciting!

The plan to record the story of my recent travel to Ireland was to blog and share the link with my friends.  Easy enough it seemed.  That did not really happen. While I joyfully managed to email some photos, emails and a few postcards, the blogging plan did not unfold.

Ireland is a constant spark of life, music, conversation, adventure, and incredible green landscape where I walked at least 10 to 20 miles a day, and spent the great majority of my time outside.  Free from the cubicle world, free from allergies and free from the hot dry heat of Idaho, I let myself drown in the lush environment.  Therefore, I am backtracking a bit and while not written in “real-time” for the blog, I am forging ahead recording the absolutely lovely experience.

June 20, 2013

A full day of travel that started at the Boise airport 6 am in the morning with a smooth easy flight to San Francisco and a 3 three-hour layover.  Not bad, and I walked around to prepare for the 9 hour flight.

The plan departed right on time at 1 pm and I found myself seated with 2 sisters, Angel and Carmel, originally from Cork, Ireland.  And the sister part meaning they were nuns from the San Francisco area.  Born and raised in Cork, both had lived in the USA for quite some time and were headed to Cork to visit family,   I felt that was quite special, my plane mates from Cork  and an Irish sign of an extraordinary trip.  We all had a lovely time, reading, chatting, watching the corny movies suitable for all ages on the plan, eating, laughing – not much sleeping.

I quickly lost track of time and soon dusk settled in with a large moon glowing off of the right-wing.  I attempted to take a few pictures but had not been able to get the flash turned off the camera, so it kept flashing back in the window.   The moon remained in my sight for a long time, big, bright, beautiful;floating on the horizon with a sea of clouds below.SAM_2180

Due to excitement I had not slept much the night before leaving and arrived at Heathrow airport feeling dull, slow, and that I could easily fall asleep standing on my feet.   The next ordeal unfolded as passengers waited to pass into the UK, get to terminal 1 and board a flight to Dublin.   We all had to fill out landing paperwork, after being told on the plans that no forms were required, …”just quickly get into the transit line.”  With the long line and only 90 minutes until my plane left for Dublin, I filled out my paperwork in “the Que” as the agents called it.

The agent had many questions for me,  irritated with my sloppy handwriting on the landing card, and asked me a few questions that made sense and others that seemed rather personal and weird. I finally got through only to encounter another set of  long lines and finally during security check had my backpack pulled aside because I had not pulled my iPad out.  Traveling in the US, we do not have to take iPad’s out, and I was not the only traveler to make that mistake.

photo(3)I missed my 9:30 flight to Dublin but was easily and quickly rescheduled on the next plane out.  From the Dublin airport I boarded a comfortable express coach for  3 hour bus ride to Cork.

First Look At Cork

First Look At Cork