Day 3 – Friday Aug. 18, 2006
We had gone to bed at 9:30 PM the previous night after being up over 33 hours and slept until 8:00 AM. We had breakfast at 9:30 at the B&B. At breakfast we met John and Nicky (Nicolle) who were currently living in Northern Italy but were originally from England. She was a lawyer and he was a “kept man,” by his own admission. They were traveling with their two small sons. John mentioned that cell phone companies in Europe didn’t charge for incoming calls. It appears that only cell phone companies in the U.S. have adopted this practice of double charging.
It was raining this morning so we got off to a slow start, chatting after breakfast with John and Nicky, hoping that the bad weather would burn off if we delayed a little. Finally, we left the B&B around 11 and headed toward Ennis. We drove in on the Quin Road to St. Peter & Paul Cathedral where the Quin Road ends at O’Connell Street. A left and a quick right and we were on N18 north which is the main highway going through the town of Ennis. North of Ennis we headed west on N85 and then took the turn off north to Corofin. We were planning on looping up through Corofin and then west through Ennistymon and down through Lisdoonvarna and finally arriving at the Cliffs of Mohr.
Right past the Dysert O’Dea site we hit a large white rock that was strategically located along the white painted stripe on the left side of the road. I hadn’t seen the rock and it initially felt like we had hit a nasty pothole in the road but I didn’t remember seeing any hole. Right after that the car started pulling to the left so I looked for a place to pull over. As rare as they might be to find, I spotted a flat area about a quarter mile ahead where I could get the car completely off the road. I pulled over, got out, and walked around to the left side to inspect the damage. It was flat alright, and the rim had two closely spaced, very deep, indentations. Even if the tire hadn’t been destroyed that rim was never going to hold air again let alone hold a balance. The left rear rim had also been damaged however it was still holding air. The tire had been damaged and was bulging and so it would also have to be replaced. Fortunately the car did have a spare tire – a tiny spare – and all the tools needed to change a tire.
The lug nuts must have been tightened by a mechanic, with an air gun, who was having a very bad day. I literally had to bounce up and down on the end of the lug wench to loosen the nuts. With the spare tire on, all the tools back in the “boot” and the luggage re-stowed I called the rental car folks back at Shannon Airport. They said to bring it by and they would swap it for another car. After filling out a few accident report forms at the rental car counter at the airport we took the shuttle bus over to the lot and picked up a Peugeot (a diesel - and at that time diesel was the cheaper fuel). A quick switch of the baggage between cars and we were on our way again.
We decided to cut out the Corofin loop because we had lost so much time with the car swap and we really didn’t want to go by that rock again. This time we headed straight out N85 to Ennistymon, Lahinch and on to the Cliffs of Mohr.
When we arrived at the Cliffs of Mohr it was badly fogged in and at first we thought that O’Brien’s Tower was gone because we couldn’t see it. There was a lot of construction going on for a new Visitor Center that will be mostly underground to preserve the flow of the landscape. A new walk way had been opened to the west – which is where most of the traditional pictures of the Cliffs of Mohr are taken from anyway.
Things looked gloomy for a while but then the fog cleared a little and we were able to get a few shots. Then, just as quickly as it had gone, the fog closed in again and the visibility dropped down to about 100 feet. O’Brien’s Tower was gone once more.
There was a lone harper on the steps and so Noël stopped to listen and bought one of his CDs while I took her picture with him. This guy was ideally equipped for this gig. He was sitting on a little wooden box. He had taped a piece of foam rubber to the top of it to make himself a seat. The box contained his amplifier and it had wires leading from the back of box to his harp. There was also an electrical plug hanging out the back that was probably used to recharge the battery that ran the whole operation, otherwise he would have needed an extension cord about a ½ mile long. The harp was small, steel strung, and pretty much the worse for wear – a perfect choice for wet, cold days – what else could happen to it. His case tripled as a harp case, a place to toss coins and a place to display the CDs he had for sale. Even here there seemed to be a plan at work. He would only put out a few CDs, so that potential customers would think there were only a few left. This would hopefully create an impulse to buy one before they were all gone. However, after a few were purchased they would be replaced from a stash he had inside the box. He had a very nice little operation.
We walked back down the hill, through the Visitor Center and into the parking lot. From the car I called the B&B in Kinvara to get some final directions and to let them know our time of arrival. We drove through Lisdoonvarna, across the Burren and down into Ballyvaughn. On the way we saw a huge new castle-like hotel that had been built in the Burren. It looked totally out of place.
We drove east along the south side of Galway Bay from Ballyvaughn to Kinvara. As we drove into the village of Kinvara we noticed it was packed with tourists who were “in town” for the “Boating Festival” that we had been warned about by the B&B owner. About three miles east of Kinvara we found the Mountainview House. We had planned on going up to Galway that evening to see the Siamsa Seisium but the owner called the place and found out that Friday night tickets had been sold out for months. Needless to say Noël was very disappointed.
After settling into our room we went into Kinvara in search of a place to eat dinner and hoping maybe later to find some live music. Mary Flanagan (the B&B owner) suggested that we park in the lot behind Merriman’s Hotel. This hotel was having a new thatched roof put on back in 1997 when we were here and at that time it was said to be the largest thatched roof in Ireland. Despite that significant fact there was no room in the Merriman parking lot. We looped the block once or twice and then found a side street in a nearby residential area where there was plenty of room. We walked back to the pub attached to the Merriman Hotel and ate dinner there. The prices were reasonable but the food was so-so. My steak sandwich had way too much fat. The meat was in the form of an actual steak instead of the shredded style of steak that is found in the states. No problems with the Guiness however.
After dinner we hit a couple of grocery stores in the continuing search for Terry’s Twilight Mints. Failing to find Terry once again we walked around the town and along Kinvara Harbor as the sun was going down. Our hope of finding some live music in the pubs didn’t look promising. They all looked dead or else had some real strange characters hanging around outside. No Terry! No music! We called it a night.