Day 04 - Wednesday, September 12, 2018 - Optional Aran Islands Ferry Tour to Inis Oirr; Home-Hosted Dinner
Then maybe at the closing of your day
You can sit and watch the moon rise over Claddagh
And see the sun go down on Galway Bay.”
Song by Dr. Arthur Colahan, 1927
Another early morning with sunshine! It was 46 degrees with blue skies in Ennis. Although it was an Optional Activity, everyone chose to go on the excursion to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the Aran Islands.
We left the hotel at 8:30 and Richard had a new bus for us today. Our route was the same as yesterday, 43 kilometers to the port of Doolin. During the hours drive, Thomas began to tell us the history of Ireland starting with the initial inhabitants who were here 6,000 years ago.
Interesting sites along the way were the golf courses, especially Lahinch, where the Irish Open was played. Lahinch was described as ‘The St Andrews of Ireland’. The term “Green” brings an all-new meaning to the beautiful conditions of the Irish courses.
Our main activity of the day was to visit one of the Aran Islands at the mouth of Galway Bay. The islands were known for their traditional ways and visitors come from all over the world to experience Irish life, as it was hundreds of years ago.
We drove to Doolin Pier and boarded the 10:00 ferry to cross the Bay to Inis Oirr, the smallest of the three islands. The ride on the Star of Doolin took about 40 minutes. We sat at the stern of the ship where we could experience the fresh sea air.
The boat was packed to its full capacity of 200 people. The crew never discussed a safety rules and life jackets were not mentioned. With an intense chop of waves and the water temperature averaging 12 - 13 degrees centigrade we were just a bit nervous about the crossing.
Salt spray and the wind in our faces kept us awake and in no time at all, we landed at the pier of Inis Oirr. Maurice met us for a tractor and wagon ride around the island. He explained the seasonal business of working very hard in the three or four months of the summer tourist season and then repairing equipment and resting for the cold months.
We made several stops for Kodak moments and then we walked through the local cemetery. There seemed to be more gravestones in the ancient churchyard than people who lived on the island.
Next we visited the community center to learn about the crafts and clothing of times past. Two of the women from Inis Oirr, Annie and Máire explained the handmade garments. Homespun clothes were made of wool from the sheep raised on the island.
The ladies showed us the woolly underwear, trousers, skirts, sweaters, and socks that were knitted or woven on looms. Only the hats for the men were “store bought”.
We were able to stretch our legs and walk through the neighborhood to the Inis Oirr Hotel for lunch. Another hearty meal - we are already feeling the results of these generous portions!
We had an hour ride back home, but there were delays on the main road because of construction. Richard knew a short cut so we managed to beat the traffic coming from the Cliffs. We made it home with 90 minutes to work on the journal and our photos.
We met the group again at 6:00 to go out for an OAT special function called a Home-Hosted Dinner. The group was divided into three and we all were able to have an evening with a real Irish family.
Our family was Pat and Ciara. Ciara worked in the local government in the recreation department and Pat was a professionally trained chef. With Ann and Carol from California, Vic and I marveled as our hosts treated us to a five star meal!
Not only did Pat cook our menu of chowder, turkey, potatoes, carrots and parsnips, and roasted turkey breast to perfection, but he also gave us pointers and a real cooking class as he worked.
In our 28 trips with OAT, we both said this was the most authentic and pleasurable Home Hosted dinner we have ever had. After much laughter and threats not to get back on the bus, we thanked our new friends and returned to the hotel by 9:15.
We quickly wrapped up the happenings of the day, reviewed and selected the 5 most representative photos of the day, posted the Journal, and turned off the lights. Tomorrow we leave Ennis and travel north to explore more of the western coast of Ireland.
Accommodations: Temple Gate Hotel - Meals included: B, L & D
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Hello....Hello....Hello!!!! Your notes had been going to Spam -- just happened to see this one. So interesting. That bus ride looks interesting indeed!!!! I am so glad you are still keeping me in a pocket and I can travel with the two of you!!!!I have wondered many times where y'all were and what interesting views I wa missing. Good to re-connect.. Take care and God bless you both!!
Surely am enjoying the adventures.
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What a great day!! Beautiful pictures. Makes me want to go.
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