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Doolin

Ireland is ancient and beautiful and immense and the light switches go the other way. Galway turned out to be something of a college town, and Saturday night we tripped the light fantastic, Irish style. The interesting part is that the pubs closed early (at least by our standards) and we kept having to move until we wound up next to the hostel at a place called the Roisin Dubh. Closing time there was 2:00, and then, somehow, I wound up sharing a taxi with four drunken Irish kids, on our way to someone’s 21st birthday party. As I found out later, this is the equivalent of a Sweet 16, which is why it makes sense that her dad literally slammed the door in our faces. Turns out the guys I was were from Dublin.

We managed to flag down another taxi and a group of about ten people (including the birthday girl) went to Sinead’s parents’ barn, where we smoked and drank until 6:00, when I walked the half hour back to the hostel, and three hours of sleep. On the whole, though, I think my fondest memories of Galway will be the conversations with the hostel owner, Jim, who, along with several of the other residents, came to Galway as a tourist and just stayed.

Sunday found us unsuccessfully trying to hitch to Doolin, our jumping-off point for the Cliffs of Moher. After three hours of walking, we broke down and caught the bus to Ennis, thence to Doolin. Finally this was the Ireland we wanted to see – rolling hills, stone fences, cows and sheep everywhere. And those golf courses, likely as not to incorporate a castle ruin somewhere along the way as a hazard. Must come back with money someday. Doolin itself is fantastic. There are three pubs, and every night every one has a more or less impromptu Irish music session. We pitched our tent near the coast, then hoofed it back into town and stepped into the closest pub. 30 seconds later, Guinness in hand, I was struck dumb by the high, clear voice of a gorgeous Irish woman. (That red hair! Those accents!) I have no idea what she was saying, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only one whose hair stood on end.

About 3:00, a front came through, making a determined effort to freeze us to death, but bringing with it the most beautiful, uncharacteristically Irish weather. We decided to break camp and hike the 6 km down the coast to the Cliffs of Moher. Wow. Words cannot do this stretch of coastline justice. I’m sure my pictures don’t either. By the time we got to the tourist center (on the honor system, bizarrely) it was anticlimactic. We had seen the real deal, out on our own in a farmer’s field, with cows rather than fences blocking the way. So I was feeling pretty good when we got to the visitor’s center and found out that the last bus had left at 1:30 PM. We resigned ourselves to another long walk back to Doolin, but lucked out with a ride barely 50 m down the road. The driver was on the phone, arguing with someone I assume was his wife, so it was a couple minutes before he informed us that he was drunk. Long story short, I spent the ride back to Doolin steering from the passenger seat, trying not to kill us all as a drunken Irishman whipped around corners on what in the States would be a one-lane road, and occasionally pulling over to take pulls from a bottle of fine port. Then it was a nap, another night in a Doolin pub, this one with younger and more energetic musicians, a meal consisting entirely of free food from previous hostelers, and waking up at 7:30 to make damn sure we caught the bus.

Kickin' it Celtic

Kickin' it Celtic

 
Our Campsite

Our Campsite

 
Music in Pub

Music in Pub

 
Doolin

Doolin

 
Just your run of the mill castle

Just your run of the mill castle

 
Spectacliffs

Spectacliffs

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