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Ireland98

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Tuesday, September 15, 1998

Today was the exact opposite of yesterday. It was raining, the wind was blowing, and the skies were heavy with clouds. Whereas yesterday you could see the top of Crough Patrick, today the upper half was hidden in clouds.

But Sallie and Jody (Jody seemed reluctant) still wanted to climb the mountain. We had an early breakfast at 7 a.m. and were at the base of the mountain by 8 a.m.. I had settled our account with Catherine. For the meals, the sandwiches, and washing laundry, she charged 25 ($37 USD). I paid this with no complaints. This was one of the most enjoyable places we had stayed.

Sallie and Jody put on the bright yellow raincoats they had purchased at Blarney Woolen Meals and started climbing the mountain. This is a steep and difficult climb. At places the trail goes over loose gravel at an angle of 45 degrees. Jody told me they each fell several times as gravel slid out from beneath their feet. However, the trail is so steep you only fall a couple of feet before you are on the ground.

At the top of the mountain is a Catholic church. Unfortunately it was so cloudy they weren't able to enjoy the view of Clew Bay. They were the first ones to the top and told me they had passed nearly forty people on the way.

While they were braving the hill, Mom and I decided to take a country drive down the coast. Just a few miles down the road we saw another rainbow over the bay. This was so bright that it was reflecting in the water. We drove through several small villages and out a country road to view a dolmen.

We also drove down to a beach. The wind was blowing horrendously. We walked along the beach looking for shells but did not find any. Since we were in the middle of nowhere with no other cars around, Mom wanted to drive the car. She drove a couple of blocks but didn't want to go any further. We drove back along the coast and then went into Westport. I think we spent more time in Westport than any other city.

In Westport I had a cup of tea and a scone while Mom shopped at a store next door. We then went to several other stores in town buying gifts for friends and family. It was getting close to noon so we drove back to Crough Patrick. At the base of the mountain is a parking lot with toilets. I parked so that I could see the trail. Mom walked to the St. Patrick statue at the trail head to see if they were waiting there for us.

I got out the binoculars to watch the trail. Minutes later Sallie and Jody appeared over the rim of the mountain. For the next twenty minutes I was able to keep them in sight as they came down the mountain. When they arrived back it was just a little more than four hours from when they left.

If you are at Crough Patrick look for the monument across the road from the parking lot. It is a sailing ship with skeletons seemingly floating in the wind amongst the sails. Very unique and macabre.

We stopped in Westport briefly for Sallie to buy some postcards before heading north. We had a long drive ahead of us to get to the northern part of Ireland. Our drive took us through Sligo and Donegal, past the site of Keat's grave (filled with cars and tourist busses - we didn't stop), around the marvelous mountain known as Ben Bulben (I did stop to gawk at this beautiful mountain), and on into Letterkenny.

Now, we didn't have anything planned to do in Letterkenny but it was reasonably close to where we wanted to be the next day. We stopped at restaurant for supper. It was here that we were "penny wise and pound foolish." In order not to pay extra for an en suite room the only B&B I could find was about 15 miles northwest of town. The next morning we would be going northeast so this was out of the way. It was also in the middle of nowhere which meant we couldn't do anything that night without driving all the way back to town.

It would have been better to have stayed in town and paid the extra money for the en suite rooms. The Bridgeburn B&B was very nice and we actually had en suite rooms for no extra charge. The house was huge. The bedrooms were roomy and the bathrooms were as large as some of the bedrooms in other B&Bs. After taking a nap, Jody, Sallie and I went downstairs to play Farkel (a dice game).

I had a window in the ceiling directly over my bed. The sky was cloudless and I spent a long time staring out at the stars tonight. Being so far out in the country there was no residual light to dim the sky the stars were very bright.

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ireland98@johnpmartin.com