The musical pub crawl went really well - I highly recommend it. There were 2 musicians that played, told stories and talked about Irish instrument history, while we hit 3 pubs. The next morning we ran for an early train to Galway (3 hrs away). Some women on the train told us that we should definitely hit the Aran Islands if possible, so as soon as we got there, we were able to get directly on a boat (10:30). The boat is connected to a shipping company so it looked like a fishing vessel and there was cargo in the lower part of the deck. It was about 2-1/2 hours to get to Inishmaan - the middle-sized and least visited isle of the three. We arrived around 1 and the boat home left at 5. It is a very small island (8km long x 3km wide I think - pop about 100) but we managed to get lost abs harassed by the local village idiot. Eventually we got our bearings, and climbed on top of a few ancient fort ruins - very impressive. The while island was criss-crossed by those intricate stone walls, often penning in belligerent cows as Cindy discovered when she tried to photograph one. It was the 'typical' quaint Ireland I have heard about. That night we explored Galway a bit - a very nice city much like a ski town. It is a college town definitely geared for tourists but still retains the 'village' feel. The next morning (Thurs) we rented a car and drove down the coast to the Cliffs of Moher. I only drove on the wrong side of the street once! It was interesting not only because of driving on the other side of the road, and being in such a tiny car, but also because they have tons of traffic circles instead of stoplights. Some of the roads were insanely narrow, too, with those picturesque stone walls about 3 inches from the road's edge and the road barely wide enough for 2 cars. I did alot of trimming of overgrown foliage - and Cindy felt like she was being pelted by it. On our way down to the cliffs, we came upon a castle on a lake and climbed up to the top. It was spit-raining and blustery, much like you would imagine in the middle ages. Very cool :)
By the way, the only rain we have gotten so far was a few drops one or two mornings, full rain in Scotland, and Thurs morning and early afternoon. So it has not been the stereotypical dreariness.
The Cliffs of Moher were beautiful - sheer moss-covered dropoffs falling down into the turbulent sea. We also stopped by the holy well of St Brigid which was very close by. One things that amused us was the kegs stacked behind the fence that surrounded the area. Supposedly the well has healing powers. The kegs tie into the story told at the Guinness factory that up to a few years ago, they were recommending that pregnant women drink a Guinness a day for the vitamin and mineral benefits - their ad slogan - 'Guinness for Strength'.
So we drove back to Galway, had a pint at Fibber Magee's and got on the train back to Dublin - dinner and some more traditional music at the Celt Pub.
This morning I sent Cindy home (luckily the French transportation embargo hasn't made it to Ireland yet).
It was great to have her here so we could explore enough for me to get my bearings. I think we hit all the big ticket tourist items, so over the next few days I'm going to have to figure out what to do for the next 2 weeks!
This weekend should be wild - the All-Ireland Hurling Finals are Sunday and the airport cabbie said they will start taking over the town tomorrow. I believe it is Kildare and Offaly I think ... I don't remember but I'm sure I will know by Sunday. The thing last weekend was Kerry and Armagh in a Gaelic Football semi-final - Kerry won.
Next week - Giant's Causeway and Rathlin Island...