Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Arran Islands, Sept 28

Yesterday, we decided that missing the Aran Islands would be a travesty since we are so close. We canceled our Dublin reservations and drove the 45 minutes from Galway to An Spiddel.

Here we had coffee, served by a lovely ex-pat French lady in her little coffee/tea/sandwich shop. The weather she commented is “4 seasons in one day” and she is quite right. The weather shifted from bright and clear to rainy and misty in a few minutes.

And we checked in to the lovely little hotel on the seaside, the An Cuiscin Lan hotel. The owner John is a prime example of Irish hospitality. He went many yards out of his way to make us happy. Since we had scheduled the Aran Islands tour at 9 the next morning, John accommodated us by having coffee ready at 8. The pub below the hotel, also run by John is beautiful, well appointed and run by a congenial staff. We met Martin, our server for the evening. Martin was born in Spiddel but raised in London for 39 years. He moved back observing that “Every morning, his neighbor’s car alarm went off at 5:00 a.m. like clockwork.” Here in Spiddel, the neighbor’s jackass braes at 5:30 a.m. and he isn’t bothered at all. ............Ah, luxury.

We made reservations for 9:00 a.m. and we had to be there at 8half. (That’s 8:30 for you non Irish).

We made the airport in time to fly to the Aran Islands. (Innis Moire Island to be precise).

The plane is a six seat twin prop and the flight took probably 8 minutes. It appears that a resident in 1970 sent a letter to the Irish government complaining that there was not sufficient transportation to and from the Islands, so in the 1980’s a flight route was established and Aer Arran was born,

Guiness Beef Stew...hhmmmm yummy
We landed on Innis Moire and were met by a covered horse and trap.

Our horse Jake. we had the only covered wagon and were glad we did!
Our driver/guide was John and Jake. (Jake is his horse). For 50 Euro John showed us Innis Moire. Now let me warn you, John is not a collegiate nor historian, but his manner is typically Irish. I think he is genuinely concerned about our enjoyment of the tour. He constantly (I mean constantly) asked “What dya think?” While I would have liked to tell John I thought that wet blue jays don’t fly at night, I could only reply that I thought it was beautiful.

Truthfully, The island is awesome. There are 800 people living on this rocky crop of land 8.7 miles long. God only knows how they make a living here! John’s idea of a history lesson was :”What dya think?” and “No problem.”

Everywhere, one sees literally hundreds of stone fences. It becomes apparent that the reason they built these fences (some dating before Christ) was this is how they "dispose of and store" all these rocks. I mean where would you put them all? According to John, some landowners own over two hundred of these little fenced plots.

Like North Idaho, they grow pretty much two things here; potatoes and rocks. One year you may clear the rocks and the next year you have more "sprouting up." The rocks literally pop up from the ground like a crop. Some of the fences are 7 feet wide.

We did the tour in about two hours and as we had another two hours before our bus picked us up for the airport, we decided a pub was in order.

Here was an impromptu group playing traditional Irish music. It consisted of two guitar players, an accordianist, fiddler, banjo player, and two others switching between a concertina and mandolin.

They had crammed into this little corner of the pub and their music was appreciated by all in the pub.

It was soon time for us to catch our flight back to the Aer Aaran airport and back to An Spiddle. We finished the evening with a traditional Irish dinner and bed.

Tomorrow we are off to Dingle and a tour of the coastline.

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