Sunday, September 13, 1998
The trip was now more than half over. There was still plenty to do. The remainder of the trip had a different tempo. Until this point we were visiting historic sites, castles, houses, etc.. The remainder of the trip focused on natural formations and scenic drives.
Most of Sunday was spent driving west along the coastal roads leading into the Connamara Mountains. Overall, this part of Ireland is the most beautiful that I saw. This is also a Gaeltect area where Irish is spoken and many of the road signs are printed only in Irish.
There were sheep everywhere. Sheep in the road, sheep in the mountains, sheep in valleys, sheep here and sheep there. The weather was beautiful so we had a wonderful view of the Twelve Bens. We stopped several times to take pictures. And as we were driving along we dubbed the driver's seat "The Stupid Seat." It seemed whenever Jody or I sat down there we became stupid. The day was spent telling stupid jokes and conversing by singing everything.
In the town of Roundstone we stopped at a music and gift shop. Roundstone is the town where parts of "The Match Maker" was filmed. The music store made and sold Bodhrans, pronounced "Bow - Run." This is an Irish Drum. I purchased an Irish woolen cap and we all bought snacks. We continued driving until we reached Clifden where we took the 12 mile Sky Road. This is a drive down a narrow one lane road with many picturesque pulloffs with view of the ocean and the mountains.
Back on the main road we reached the Connemara National Park. We drove to the entrance gate but decided not to pay the admission. A few more miles down the road we came upon Kylemore Abbey. This beautiful building is situated between a lake and massive mountain. While you can visit parts of the Abbey we decided to press on. There is also a large restaurant located nearby. The parking lot was filled with cars and tour buses so this must be a popular location.
I wanted to make it to Westport for that night and we still had nearly 40 miles to go. In fact, Westport is only 50 miles from Galway. With the route we took we drove over 150 miles. Westport is a charming town and we stayed there two nights. Upon arriving in town we parked on the street and found a small restaurant with decent prices.
We all ordered soup as well as an entree. When the soup arrived I wasn't paying attention and dropped a huge spoonful of sugar into my soup. I was aiming for my tea. Mom came to my rescue and swapped bowls with me. Its amazing I survive on my own without Mom to lookout for me (and we live a 800 miles apart). She dipped out the sugar onto a plate. As we were eating our soup Mom found a surprise in hers. There was a two pence piece in her soup!
Sallie ordered Shrimp Scampi expecting to get sauteed shrimp. What came back was a plate of fried shrimp. These were very good but not what we were expecting. We were soon all satisfied and needed to find a place to stay. Looking through the farmhouse book I casually picked the Seacrest House. In this case I hit a jackpot.
The Seacrest was located a few miles outside of town down a small country road. As we started out the road visions of the previous farmhouse flashed into our mind. This was quickly dispelled. A full rainbow was arching over the field in front of the house. This rainbow stayed for nearly two hours before disappearing. At one point there was a faint double rainbow.
The house was on a hill with a view of Clew Bay on one side and Crough Patrick on the other. Our hostess, Catherine, was extremely gracious. The house was beautiful, huge (11 bedrooms), and very modern. The dining area was a glass enclosed room. This is the third of my three favorite B&Bs in Ireland. As soon as we arrived we decided to stay two days.
Jody decided he wanted to play a round of golf on the course next door. Sallie still wasn't feeling well so he went by himself (I don't play golf). While he was gone I watched the National Hurling Championship on television. Hurling is similar to Lacrosse (and by that I don't mean the city in Wisconsin).
I also spent an hour or so conversing with Catherine and an older couple who were staying in there. It was from the older couple that I heard the Sheep Guide. There are five type of sheep: Firster Sheep - the term came from when the man interrupted his wife. She said the "first classification was...." He interrupted by stating, "Well, firster than that is...." Anyway, Firster Sheep are sheep that aren't there...in other words no sheep. First Sheep are sheep laying down in fields behind walls. Second Sheep are sheep standing in fields. Third sheep are sheep laying down by the road. The last and worst type of sheep are Forth Sheep. These are the sheep walking or standing along the road just waiting to dart out in front of you vehicle.
After talking with our hostess, we arranged to go fishing with Paddy the next day in Clew Bay. I went upstairs and read awhile before going to sleep.