<-- Back to day 6 | ^Up to Main^ | On to day 8 -->
June 4, 2003
Today we needed to catch an early ferry to the Aran Islands from the port at Doolin which was a mile or two from where we were staying, so we got up (relatively) early, and were downstairs packed and ready by the start of breakfast at 8:30 AM. We down a quick meal and head to the pier. Various folks have already arrived and are waiting there. We go into the ticket trailer, and true to the documentation we've been provided, tickets are waiting for us. Because of the nature of the ferries to the islands, there is no way to bring a car, and so no reasonable way for our luggage to get there. We need to bring with us whatever we'll need for the night and just as importantly the maps for the next day. Fortunately, we remember to do so.
Thanks to our rushing, and the slight tardiness of the ferry, we have plenty of time to scramble around the rocks while we wait. Photos here are of Carolyn on the rocks, AC trying (and failing) to get beside Carolyn before the timer goes off on the auto-shutter, and some worn structure on a small, odd island just out in the bay near the pier at Doolin.
What a pleasure when the ferry does arrive to find that it's called "The Happy Hooker". Apparently, a hooker is a traditional Irish fishing boat.
The ride out to the Aran Islands was choppy enough to toss the small ferry we were on about even though it wasn't stormy. It was interesting to watch some sea-going bird or another wing across the water only inches from the peaks of the waves. We were a little bit surprised though when Ferry dropped us off first at Inisheer (Inis Oírr), the smallest of the 3 Aran Islands. They assured us that they'd take us to Inishmore in an hour and a half or so, so we had some time to explore Inisheer. Since we left our bikes on the ferry which departed as soon as we were all on the island, we explored Inishmore on foot. Even in that short time, we saw "Cnoc Raithní" a Bronze age mound from ~2000BC, and wandered over to "Teampall Chaomháin" a 10th-century church surrounded by a graveyard.
We also worked our way up to O'Brien's Castle, the ruins of a 15th-century castle. Since there were no "Please don't climb on the castle" signs, Carolyn went scrambling around. While she was doing that, I found an interesting gargoyle-type creature sticking out of the side of the castle, complete with a head of flower-hair.
We still make it back to the ferry port in plenty of time to catch the Happy Hooker again, and this time she takes us on to Inishmore (Inis Mór), the largest island. By this time, we're pretty hungry and we quickly find a spot on a rocky beach where we pull over and have a picnic lunch. We then proceed to our B&B for the night, Árd Éinne where we check in and drop off some of our stuff before going back out. Looking for a map, postcards and stamps, we go to the Tourist Center which would have been more appropriately named the Irish Kitch Shop. We have a very simple map of the island that we got from the ferry folk (not to be confused with the fairy folk). We figure that will do so we start to head out. We find a post office which satisfies our stamp needs, and we proceed across the island. Our lack of a proper map does doom us to failure to find Dun Aengus (Dún Aonghasa), a huge stone fort on the island though we think we catch a glimpse of it from the distance. However, we do find a lovely, secluded sandy beach, miles of lightly travelled roads, and gorgeous views of stone walls snaking through an Irish countryside where the Irish language (Gaelic) is still spoken.
On our return toward town and the guest house, our road quickly became more like a gravel trail. Feeling adventuresome, and somewhat freer than usual having left our bags behind in the B&B, I rocketed down. However, I was on a rental touring hybrid rather than my own mountain bike, and as I landed at the bottom of a pile of rocks, I got a pinch flat in the front tire. It was not long after that, that I realized also that having left our bags at the B&B meant having left the pump at the B&B too! So, I walked beside the bike the rest of the way into town where a bike rental shop was in the middle stages of closing, and asked to borrow their pump. The fellow there was nice enough to lend it to me, and I quickly repaired the flat, returned the pump and tipped him a Euro for his graciousness.
We stop for dinner in town at the Aran Fisherman where I get a Chicken Stroganoff in a funky, but very tasty pancake-type wrap and Carolyn has cod. This time, we manage to get a Bushmill's without ice and it was tasty but not spectacular. In taste test preferential order I put Bushmills between Connemara and Red Breast. So, from Highest to lowest at this point, it goes Jameson -> Connemara -> Bushmills -> Red Breast. While I have developed a taste preference, even the Red Breast isn't bad whiskey.
So, after another scrumptious Irish feast, capping off another beautiful day of touring the countryside, we head back to the B&B for sleep.
<-- Back to day 6 | ^Up to Main^ | On to day 8 -->