The Last Day

As the title of this post reveals, We finally reached the last day of our tour. I went to Ireland alone, and I was a little apprehensive about spending seven days with strangers. I’m a loner. I like doing things by myself and I can go for days without seeing or speaking to another human being and I’m just fine with that. That being said, the people on my tour were friendly and just plain good folks. They gave me the space I needed without questioning or worrying overly much (I think) about me. It was a good time and even though I was glad to come home again, I miss seeing them all. We had two tour guides on this trip. The first one, Carmel, was vibrant and enthusiastic, but she had a family wedding to attend so she left us on the third day. Our next guide Damian, was very well informed of Irish history and knew small details about everywhere we went. He was a little too wired for me as I’m very relaxed and laid back but he was a great guide. I would definitely recommend Vagabond/Driftwood tours to anyone wanting a tour vacation. (This is not a commercial)

Not too far from Clifden we stopped at a spot where a man still cuts Turf by hand. Turf, or Peat is an accumulation of partially decayed vegetation or organic matter that over time gets compressed and becomes a fossil fuel. It only grows 1 mm a year so it could be used up if too much is cut. For centuries it has been the fuel with which Irish people have heated their homes. Today, it is cut by machine but this guy still cuts his by hand. An amazing amount of work, and it has a wonderful smell when burned.

Next we stopped at Kylemore Abbey. The castle was finished in 1868 by a wealthy Doctor and took 100 men 4 years to complete. Eventually it was sold to Irish Benedictine Nuns who ran a school for Catholic girls until 2010. It’s an amazing place.

These next photos are from Ireland’s only true fjord at Killory Harbor. The lines in the water are for fishing Mussels. The fjord goes 10 miles inland.

The 1952 Technicolor John Ford movie, “The Quiet Man” was filmed at Cong, County Mayo, Ireland. It starred, John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara. This is the bar that was filmed in the movie.

The rest of the trip back to Dublin was uneventful. I was dropped at my hotel about 5 pm and had the rest of the evening to relax and think about all I had seen. Seven days on the road produced a whirlwind of sights and history, some of which I know I forgot to include here. The main take away that I came home with is that the people and food of Ireland are great, and the country is beautiful. What little I saw of the island makes me want more. The mountains are spectacular and the wild Atlantic is mesmerizing. Unfortunately Ireland has had to cater to tourism but it has brought a lot of money to the economy. So just as they learned when they won their freedom from Great Britain, sacrifices have to be made. In order for the Republic of Ireland to gain independence they had to give up the six counties of Northern Ireland which stayed a part of Great Britain. It was a sore battle to lose but it was the only way to be free. Thanks for sticking with me on this journey and maybe you’ll get to go yourself.

Sunset over Dublin

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