It’s my second day in Ireland, and it got off to a rather late start. I set an alarm for 9 a.m., and I got up at that time, but only to use the bathroom and fall right back asleep. Dr. Babcock came to get us at 11:45 a.m. and I woke up to the voices of my housemates and fellow Irish Fellows in the kitchen.
I didn’t tell you about the house yesterday, which means I have to tell you about it today. It’s built right between two golf courses, which means we’re in danger of dying from flying golf balls through the windows no matter where in the house we are at the time. There are four bedrooms and two bathrooms, but enough beds to sleep eight (not comfortably, mind you, because my bedroom on the main floor has two twin beds packed into a room about 9 by 13 feet). There are showers on both floors, and we also have a fully-stocked kitchen and a rec room with a PS2 and games. I doubt the games are recent, but the thought counts.
This is my group of Irish Fellows (I’m the one on the far right). We’re eclectic, but I think we should all remain unscathed (by each other, at least) by the time we return. You can’t see Dr. Babcock, since he was taking the photo, but we all owe a lot to him.
I remembered my camera today, which means that the pictures are slightly less-quality, but no less heartfelt, than yesterday. We traveled by taxi-bus (courtesy of Tom Dowling, the local taxi service) to Ennis (Inis, pronounced [in-ish]), where we picked up our phone service and groceries. We also attempted to procure our train and bus tickets, but for some reason, the stations (which are connected) were closed.
Clearly, it must be a Monday. Actually, most Irish businesses, such as museums and restaurants, are closed on Mondays to recover from having to work over the weekend. It’s an interesting quirk, but one I’ve been told happens in the States too. (Fun fact: The Omaha Public Library system has some branches that are closed Sunday-Monday.)
Ennis is a beautiful town. I believe it’s about 3,000, but it was still lovely. There are narrow streets, a remnant from when the city was encircled by high stone walls (which apparently came down later than most), so the downtown is very tightly packed.
The streets are tight (one-ways abound here), but the storefronts are all very colorful. The blue and yellow banners are the colors of Clare County, which won the all-Ireland hurling championship just recently. Obviously, the county is very proud of its team.
This statue of Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator, as he’s remembered, stands in a square in Ennis. You can’t quite see how tall it is in this picture, but you can see the Clare banner wrapped around him. How someone managed to get that high, I haven’t a clue.
This picture shows you more of the colorful storefronts and gives you a sense of scale concerning the O’Donnell statue. In the foreground, you can see two of the Fellows chatting about where we should get some lunch (late lunch, around 3 p.m., but hey, some of us got up at noon, noon-thirty).
We ended up eating at a little bistro in Ennis, which was rather cozy (in a good way). It was also affordable, because while most of the other places we saw had a sandwich priced at €13.50 (approximately $19.75), the sandwiches here, which were excellent, were only €3.50 (approximately $6.25). You can also see a few cool features, including the coat hooks below the bar and the liquor dispensers next to the telephone on the right. And of course, the Clare banners hanging from the ceiling.
It was a good day. We met our first Irish instructor at dinner, in the Atlantic hotel. More about him will come after our lesson on Thursday. Good food, if anyone needs a reference. I ordered a goat cheese salad, and the goat cheese was a wheel about the size of my coffee-cup saucer. It was delicious.
After dinner, the five of us walked around Lahinch looking for Internet in my case and a bar in everyone else’s. We found the seashore instead. I stayed up top and became a pack mule (I was carrying four laptops, three cameras, two wallets, and one cell phone), while the other four decided to explore the rocky beach below.
Now, when I say rocky, I mean there are smooth, slick boulders and stones lining the shore. Climbing up and around those was not easy, and it was dark but for the little light coming from the streetlights. I don’t envy the trek, because each of them slipped multiple times and some fell. They all survived to see another day though, and we made it home safely, so I suppose we should be grateful for that.
After all, when traveling abroad, every second counts.