Inishmore – Finale

As the rains began to fall I made for the main area next to the docks where there were some restaurants and shops and so-forth. Even with the precipitation I was struck by the stark beauty of this humble fishing community.


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Click for full size

As I continued to ride the rain began to come down in earnest so I put on the hustle and made my way to the fish n’ chip shop I had passed earlier. Parking the bicycle outside I went inside and placed an order for the catch of the day. After they called my number and I collected my food I went out on the covered patio and had a seat.

My bus back on the mainland was not scheduled to pick me up for another 4 hours so there was no point in leaving right away. The dock on the mainland was just a parking lot where buses came and went as they dropped off tourists looking to catch the ferry to the islands.

I sat in the fish n’ chips shop and made friends with the local wharf cat who seemed content to beg for scraps from the wet and bedraggled tourists.

After I sat for a while the rain began to slack a bit and I decided to return my rented bicycle and have a go at the island on foot. As I was leaving the bike shop I was accosted by eager tour bus drivers offering a three hour tour of the island that included a trip up to Dun Aengus, a stone fort on the west side of the island.

I decided to pay the 10 Euro and take the tour. We drove past endless stone walls and got a bit of the back story on the island from our tour guide as we worked our way to the far side of the island.

Once we arrived we were given an hour and a half to climb the hill and explore the ruins.

It was a wet, slippery and precarious climb up the stony hillside to reach the top where the ruins of the 3,000 year old stone fort stood watch on the rocky shore of Inis Mór, but the view was spectacular (even with the rain). At the very top, within the stone walls of the ruins you could peer out across the vast ocean, squint and imagine New York in the far, far distance.


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There were no railings here, no signs warning of the danger. Only a wet, rocky terrain that abruptly ended in a 300 foot plummet into the ocean below…

Of course this meant that I had to get as close as possible and peer over the edge…


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Click for full size


Click for full size

I was probably taking a bigger risk than someone as clumsy as I am should have been…but there I was, on the edge of the world and it was spectacular.


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I was so glad that I didn’t let a little rain deter me from having such a grand finale to such a wonderful trip.

Inis Mór – Part 2

Continued from Inis Mor – Part 1

Having settled on going back and exploring other sites on the island via bicycle I allowed myself a leisurely stroll as I made my way back to the road.

As I was watching the hares scamper about they all broke into a run and dashed down the closest hole they could get to. I couldn’t sort what had happened to cause the sudden panic until I spotted two Border Collies come up from beyond a small hill.


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They eyed me warily and kept a good distance and just trotted off the other side of the pasture and on out of site. The didn’t seem all that interested in me or the rabbits.

I kept on walking toward the road and was stopped by two inquisitive donkeys in a walled enclosure out there in the field.


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I wish I had been carrying something to give them. They were obviously looking for a hand-out.

I finally made it back on to the road and stopped to shoot some pictures of some of the many monuments on the island erected in the memory of a sailor or fisherman who’s body was never recovered.


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Click for larger version

These things were everywhere and most dated back a few hundred years.

This was turning out to be a splendid excursion…

…then it began to rain.

To Be Continued

Inis Mór – Part 1

Decided to take a day trip to Inis Mór, the larger of the three Aran Islands. It was a one hour bus ride to Rossaveal from Galway to catch the ferry over to the island.
Theferries are basically modern, aquatic people movers design to shuttle tourists to and from the islands. No cars, only pedestrians.


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Sleek, modern and safe (knock wood)

It was about 20 minutes to the island where we were greeted by tour bus drivers, horse and buggy drivers and proprietors of bicycle rental shops, all looking to see you on one form of transportation around the island or another.

Renting a bike struck me as a novel way to go so that’s what I opted for.

Now I had been told you could see puffins on this island and the tourist brochure advertised puffin holes so I asked the guy at the bike shop where the puffin holes could be found and he told me it was on the far end of the island. Just follow the road around the harbor until it ends and then I would have to leave the bike and do some hiking up and over a hill.

This sounded just dandy and i set off.

As it turned out, all the buses and the most of the other cyclists headed the opposite direction looking to find Dún Aengus leaving me to ride fairly leisurely to my own destination.

It was odd riding a bike. It’s been a lot of years since I have done so, but I sorted out the gears shifters and so forth without much problem.

There was a near miss as I dodged a cow tromping down the narrow street.


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I realized, right after the cow let out a mighty “MOOOOOOOOOOOO”, that I had not actually ever heard a cow “moo” before.
It was a bellowing and loud sound that seemed to urge me to MOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE out of the way as loped past me and on down the road.

Moving on I was just awestruck by the things I was seeing


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Click for larger version

As I was taking some pictures, another rider came by and stopped. From his accent he was Irish and it turns out he was visiting his mother who lived on the island. I asked him if he knew where the puffin holes were and he said he would show me the way as he was headed that direction to go fishing.

When I explained to him how excited I was to see some puffins he explained that I would not be seeing any. This is when I learned what a “puffin hole” was. It’s not, as I would have thought, some type of nesting area for the puffing bird. Oh no…it’s a hole in the rock on the shore line where water rushes in from below and “puffs” into the sky like a geyser.

Well. This was not what I was peddling halfway round Inis Mór to see. But, since I had made a good part of the trek I decided to press onward.

The road finally ended and we picked up our bikes and passed them over the stone wall and proceeded to walk toward the shore through an open field. I stopped and took this picture of area we entered the field from:


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After a few hundred feet of walking the bikes I began to see movement all around me. Hares, hundreds of them. I couldn’t get very close without them all scurrying into holes on the ground that were literally everywhere.


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I told my new friend to go on ahead as I was going to pause and take some pictures and just soak it in. It was so peaceful and so isolated. The grass beneath my feet was soft and spongy.

As I pressed on things began to get a bit more rugged so I was forced to leave the bike (which I had been walking anyway) so I could navigate the increasing number of damp and slippery stoned on the ground.


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Click for larger version

I could see my Irish friend way in the distance walking up the rough trail on over the hill and then out of sight. I crossed the rocky flat and started to make my ascent when I came to the conclusion that I was putting myself in unnecessary jeopardy. I kept slipping on some rocks while others rolled out from under my feet. I figured I was on a collision course with a broken ankle.

I could just imagine myself snapping my ankle and being stranded out there. I’m sure I would have been found eventually but you know, discretion and valor and one being the better part of the other and all that…I decided to head back.

To be continued….

Cliffs Of Moher

We finished up the project a little early so I was released into the wilds of Ireland to do some exploring today.
I caught a tour bus up to the Cliffs Of Moher.

It seemed a gamble with the rain, but I decided to risk it even though there would be no refunds on the tour price.

It did rain on and off the hour and a half it took us to get there, but there was no rain while we visited the cliffs which was great.


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Click for full size


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Click for full size

I loved the signs:


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Quack


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It’s raining. The above picture was taken around 9:45 pm. The sun doesn’t set until 10:00 pm.

Like a duck, I braved the mucky weather and headed forth in search of a pub for a pint and some live music.


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It’s easy to see the appeal and charm of an true Irish pub with weather like this. You go from wet, bedraggled and miserable to warm and comfortable in nothing flat.

I almost didn’t recognize it as an Irish pub because there was no bitter, hate-filled, resentment holding, proprietress scowling at the patrons, looking to alienate good people for reasons known only to herself.

Must be a Houston thing…


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Galway Slang

Craic (pronounced “crack”) is the Gaelic word for “fun

Actual conversation in the cab from the airport:

Cab Driver: Are you up for a bit of craic?
Me: No, I’m here on business…

Memorable slang so far:

Craic – Fun
Knackered – Tired
No Panic -No worries/problem
Shite – No good, awful
Dry Shite – Boring person
Deadly – Cool
Destroyed – Drunk
Plonker – Idiot

Where’s the “any” key?

When travelling to Europe a few years back I did not take a computer with me. It was pretty much “catch as catch can” in the various countries, between the odd Internet cafe and the various hotel or B&B provided terminals.

Something I knew, but did not fully consider, was that each country used a unique keyboard layout. This made it somewhat vexing when it came to typing certain characters. I recall struggling to find the key combination for the @ symbol on a French computer with the key symbols worn away from over-use.

If you know how to type without watching your fingers, and you have access to the computer settings then the easiest thing to do is go to the control panel and change the layout to US.

Microsoft offers step by step instructions in KB306560

If you’re a hunt and peck typist or you don’t have the ability to change the keyboard layout you will need to familiarize yourself with the keyboard layout of the country you’re visiting.

There’s a handy guide located at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyboard_layout

US KEYBOARD LAYOUT

UK/IRELAND KEYBOARD LAYOUT

One of the most frustrating differences on UK keyboard is that the quotation marks are on the 2 key while the @ sign takes the place the quotation marks.

Marching To The Sea

The sun stays up till about 10:00 pm in this part of the world at this time of year. Not that there’s been much of it here lately. It’s rained and been overcast most of the past month or so. Looks like I brought some Texas sunshine with me on this trip because today was spectacular. So spectacular, in fact, that I walked several miles down to the entrance to Galway Bay and back along the River Corrib.


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Click for full size


Click for full size

That pretty much wiped me out for the evening. Now I am back in the hotel and just updating this blog and getting ready for some sleep.

Travelling Fuel

It feels good to have been at the Galway office today. I got to meet/see again many of my Irish co-workers.

It’s a good atmosphere there. We made plans for initial phase of the domain migration and we’re pushing that part through this evening.
We’ll see how it went when we get in tomorrow morning.

Two of the lads took me to a place called Shambo’s that features sandwiches served on unique Shamrock shaped focaccia or wholemeal breads.

It’s not a tourist place. This one was located in very industrial area and it was full of working class and professional type people obviously out on their lunch break.

That didn’t stop me from photographing my lunch before chowing down, though!


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It was quite yummy!

After work today I decided it was time to have my official first Guinness in Ireland. I’d heard all the stories about how Guinness tastes soooooo much better in Ireland and I wanted to see for myself, especially since I am not all that fond of Guinness in the first place.

Owen, Niall and Paul all unanimously agreed that Murphy’s Pub was the place to go for this so I wandered down toward the river to find it.
It wasn’t much trouble and went in and had a seat at the bar and placed my order with the bartender.

And I, being the camera toting dufus I am, captured the momentous beer for posterity.


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Let me state for the record that it is absolutely true. This Guinness tasted fantastic! Smooth and not bitter like I recall my American experiences.

I see a few more pints in my immediate future….

Time to explore, time to reflect

Keeping in mind that the baldheretic server is operating on local time in Houston, posts that appear to be made at 6:00 pm are actually going up around midnight due to the time difference.

In essence, I am blogging to my US readers from the not so distant future.
No flying cars or jet packs, but somewhat closer to developing cold fusion.

Haven’t found a way to play this to my advantage in regards to the lottery…curse the luck.!