Celtic Discovery

Day 2 - March 25, 2004 – On to Shannon - Tour Ennis

After an uneventful flight we landed at Shannon and we were surprised – this is a small airport - about 1/3 the size of Colorado Springs.

The customs form was the simplest we have ever seen. First and last name, birth date, country of origin and where we were going to stay. The immigration line was long as three planes landed at the same time. Only question they asked us was how long we were going to stay.

Our OAT Trip Leader, (DeeDee), met our Delta flight at Shannon and she will be with us throughout the entire trip. We and another couple transferred to Ennis in a mini-bus driven by Jerry, checked into our hotel and met our hosts Kyran and Brid Carr.

We had some free time to freshen up, try to sleep (no way - a door was banging) before we had a light lunch of sandwiches, chips and beverage at 1PM in the Parlor and then had a quick meeting with our fellow travelers. We then had 15 minutes to get our jackets and bags.

Unlike other OAT trips, this one did not send our group individual names with the Final Itinerary. So we met them as we arrived. As we go through these next two weeks we will find out where they are from and what they do. It is a partially sunny day - but there is a very strong cool wind.

After lunch, we got in our 16 passenger bus and were driven to Ennis for a guided walking tour. Ennis is a medieval town of quaint shops, narrow street-scapes, and cobblestone pedestrian ways in the heart of County Clare.

DeeDee told us there is a postal strike and no mail will be delivered or sent. So we will not need to stop at the post office or buy post cards. As we got closer to Ennis, she told us a little of the history of the town, Ennis, from Innish, meaning island.

As the city was first founded on an island on the River Ennis. We walked to the center of town where we saw the huge statue of Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell was a Catholic lawyer who fought for the rights of the Irish Catholics in Parliament. He is know as the liberator or father of Ireland.

After our walk around this small town, we had some free time to explore on our own. The trees are just starting to bud out as they had a very cold February and early March. There are flowers everywhere, daffodils, primroses, and pansies in hanging baskets.

We found a large supermarket, looked at a few shops, and even found an internet café that was very reasonable - 1 Euro for 30 minutes. I was able to find a liquor store and bought a bottle of Bushmills Irish Whiskey.

People here are very nice, smile and can tell we are not Irish - we have color - many are very light/white and have freckles and red hair. Good looking people.

As we waited for people to return to our mini-bus, we discussed the very controversial no smoking policy to go into effect on March 29 in all pubs, stores, and restaurants.

On our way out of town and back to the Fountain Court Guesthouse, we learned more about the local area and Ireland in general. The harp is the official symbol of the government of Ireland, with the shamrock and the wolfhound as the old symbols of romantic Ireland.

We passed new housing units, individual families, built like condos or townhouses that cost 300 to 500,000 Euros. The housing market here has quadrupled in the past 8 years. Interest rates are low at 3.75%.

Gas is at $5.00 per gallon so there are small economy cars and of course they are all imported. There is an import tax and value added tax so cars cost double the US. They also drive on the wrong side of the road!!!

In the evening, as we were ready to go to dinner at the Guesthouse, there was not a cloud in the sky. The last 4 members of the group arrived just as we were ready for supper.

Dinner was an excellent salad, then Irish meat stew with mushrooms and onions, coleslaw, wild rice, carrots, and potatoes. Dessert was an apple pie with heavy sweet cream, coffee, tea, etc.

We had a group meeting where DeeDee went through some of the guidelines. We were back in our room by 8:30 PM. All of us were tired from the flights and walking.

We are +7 hours different from the Mountain Time Zone. Hopefully, when I send these e-mails everyone will be able to get them during their day. Most of my responses will be one day later.

Breakfast (inflight), Lunch, Dinner - Fountain Court Hotel

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