07 Sept 2006 Thursday - Sligo to Doolin

Today we ate breakfast at the castle hotel, re-packed and hit the highway. The first order of business was to drive back into Sligo because we got there too late to see any of the sights. One of the hotel guests we were talking to last night had highly recommended we see the Sligo Abbey,

which is a ruined church that had lots of rooms,


and other features.

They say that during the famous potato famine, thousands of people who died of starvation were buried there at the abbey. They said that at one point the bodies were piled up ten meters high or something.

Next we drove back south again to Galway. The drive took us much longer than expected and Kathy got very frustrated. She was unhappy that we were spending our vacation driving from place to place rather than seeing things and doing anything fun. Part of the problem was the fact that most of yesterday was just driving around, seeing the countryside and then driving back up north to our castle.

After driving a long way, it was 1:00pm in the afternoon and we decided to stop in Galway for lunch at a small but very ornate pub.

We parked and walked around town, ate lunch and then did a bit of shopping. After shopping we visited the Galway Cathedral. It had some beautiful stained glass.

We managed to squeeze in a lot of sightseeing. We stopped at a Dolman,

which is basically another prehistoric burial mound with marker stones.

This was from about 3500 B.C., which is more than a thousand years before the pyramids in Egypt were built. The Dolman was built at the top of a very rocky high-ground known as the Burren. The Burren is a very large, rocky area of Ireland that's so barren that almost nothing grows there, except for tiny plants, so it's pretty much no good for anything. There's way too much rock for crops to grow. So it's amazing to think that people in ancient times would travel to this desolate place—up huge mountains—in order to bury someone under some rocks. Must have been a special person. The rocks have large foot-deep crevices, often in straight lines.

I thought it resembled the gray matter of a human brain.

Next we passed through a small town and looked at their ruined church which had some ancient crosses

and carved figures.

We drove on to the town of Doolin, which is where my friend Ryan said was good.

We spent the evening at the Cliffs of Mohar

and took lots and lots of photos.

Walking toward the cliffs, I stopped and spoke with a young German man who was wearing a t-shirt that said, “Odin statt Jesus” or “Odin not Jesus,” which made me laugh. Of course, Odin is the Norse god we all still honor to this day: we call the fourth day of the week “Wednesday” but originally it was “Odin’s Day.” (All of days of the week are named after pagan gods–Thursday was Thor’s day, etc.) I should have asked him if he was a fan of the heavy metal band Manowar, who has lots of hard rock songs to pagan gods like Odin.

There were lots of people at the cliffs doing stupid things like peering down the edge of the cliffs,

past the barriers that were clearly marked. We stayed there until sunset, which was very beautiful. We took lots of photos.

Afterward, we drove back to our B&B

and took a taxi to a pub in Doolin where we ate dinner. We used the taxi because we fully intended to visit the pubs of Doolin and have a few drinks, and we had heard that the Irish government recently cracked down on drunk driving, severely stiffening the penalties and criteria. None of the locals were foolish enough to drive with even a little bit of drink in them.

Doolin is very small indeed. There are only three pubs in town with two close by and a third that’s a long walk. We asked the driver to drop us off at the two pubs and that way, if the one pub wasn’t any fun, we could walk–or stagger–to the other. He dropped us off at a pub called McDermott’s pub.

Inside, we ordered a very nice dinner. A band in the pub started playing traditional Irish music. The place was crowded and the music was very good. The singer was great, but he only sang a few songs and the rest were instrumentals. One of the band members looked almost exactly like my niece Kerry,

who also plays in an Irish band. In fact, they could be twin sisters. This woman was a year or two older than Kerry and she played a miniature accordion. We had forgotten to bring our camera to the pub, so I tried to get a shot of her with our cell phone, but it was very dark so the photo was pretty bad.

After an two hours or so, we walked over to a second bar to check it out. There weren’t as many people there. They also had a band, but they seemed lazy or uninterested. They’d play one song, then take a five minute break, then play another. And while they were playing, they just seemed bored. We drank a pint of Guinness there, then went back to the first place, where we stayed until midnight. Then we called the taxi and he took us back to our Bed and Breakfast.

The Bed and Breakfast is a nice place;

a farmhouse within walking distance of the cliffs, although it would be a very long walk. It’s a place that was recommended to us by the same couple last night.

Once at the B&B, Kathy went to bed while I stayed up writing this for over an hour. Hey, writing takes time!