Saturday, June 6, 2009

May 2009

My parents' visit - sea and mountains

My Mom and Dad came to visit for a week in early May. The first few days were wild and windy, and we drove along the coast road to Loop Head, braving the gale force winds to view the stunning cliffs of Clare.

On the weekend we headed north to Connemara, stopping in the Burren for a short walk at the foot of Mullagh Mor. It was crisp, windy and sunny.

Connemara is the western region of County Galway, a couple of hours north of where we live in West Clare. Connemara means "by the sea" in Irish, and it's a starkly beautiful landscape of craggy bare mountains and icy lakes.

We stayed in a hostel in Letterfrack, and this small mountain, Diamond Hill, was right behind the hostel. The day we arrived Bill and I climbed to the top.

The view from Diamond Hill. It was a pretty easy climb, with an official marked trail and a boardwalk over the boggy bits. When we got back to the hostel, we told Dad that he could probably climb it, and the next morning he hoofed it to the top. Not bad for a 75 year-old geezer!

A few days later Bill and I climbed the hill at the right side of the photo above, at the mouth of the inlet.

Near the hostel, we found a tragically sad cemetery for the little boys who died as a result of abuse at the Letterfrack industrial school. (You may have heard about Letterfrack in the news recently as a report detailing the abuses was just released.) Fortunately the path to the cemetery was lovely, with bluebells and wild garlic blooming together in profusion.

Kylemore Abbey, on the shores of Lake Kylemore, was originally built as a faux castle by a rich Englishman. His young wife died in childbirth, he suffered from depression and lost his fortune and the place fell into disrepair. Eventually it was sold to a group of Belgian nuns escaping WW1 and it's now an exclusive boarding school. Near the abbey there's a huge walled garden planted with vegetables, fruit trees and flowers.

One day we drove a little further north into County Mayo. Bill and I played on the beach near Louisberg. The sun was brilliant and the sea electric blue.

Back near the hostel, looking up the valley with Diamond Hill on the right.

Going up and at the top of the second hill we climbed a few days later. A mountain range called the Twelve Bens is in the background.

We drove back a different way, hugging the south coast of Connemara. We stopped at Dog Bay where the water was Carribean blue.

Rick Manning's visit - pubs and crack

Rick Manning, the driving force behind the Cayuga Waterfront Trail in Ithaca, plays some mean bluegrass and Irish trad on the fiddle, and he finally made it here to play some music! There was a trad festival happening in Ennis and Rick got to play at a bunch of sessions as well as at a party. The crack was mighty!
We played a bit at our cottage, and Rick and I played a few tunes that we both know at the pub one night.

And of course we took Rick to the Burren. (Warning: if you come to visit us we will take you to the Burren!) It was a sunny, clear day so we climbed to the top of Mullagh Mor for some nice views.

Our gardens

With 18 hours of daylight our flower and veg gardens are rockin! We're eating lots out of the garden and also selling mixed salad, spinach, lettuce, broccoli, chard, and kale at the farmer's market. Soon we'll have peas, broad beans and strawberries, and the tomatoes are fruiting in the polytunnel.

Purple clematis with magenta rock rose blooming at its feet.

Blue Himalayan Poppy
Summer is good in Ireland, and this one is predicted to be warmer and drier than normal due to the return of El Nino in the US. I'm glad to be here!