Friday, June 30, 2017

Galway and Beyond

Our trip to Ireland was so engaging that I've fallen way behind in chronicling it here. After the last instalment re Bloomsday, we went to see and hear Robert Gogan's one-man reading of parts of Ulysses at the Stag's Head pub, entitled Strolling Through Ulysses. He's very good at assuming all the different personas and does focus on the most sensational parts of the novel. We also enjoyed a dinner on the top floor of the roaring Brazen Head pub which features an Irish storyteller who regaled us with descriptions of Irish food, the potato famine, and fairies. 

The Brazen Head claims to be Dublin's oldest pub and it certainly is a large, very animated one, with about five bar rooms filled with imbibers, and then a dining room upstairs as well another private one further up where we heard the storyteller. It's not far from the Guinness Storehouse which tells you the story of Guinness (not that fascinating) but for your admission price, you get to go up to the Gravity Bar on the top with a 360-degree view of Dublin while enjoying a properly-pulled pint of the dark, delightful brew.

Driving on the left was not very hard, especially in an automatic. I drove on the left years ago using a stick shift and that is challenging. I even took a lesson once in London where we pulled out right into Tottenham Court Road, which is near the center of the city (just above Trafalgar Square). The road to Galway is almost all superhighway and is easy.

Galway is the perfect town in Ireland, with a scenic bay and wonderful pedestrian district featuring old and musical pubs, nice interesting stores, and good restaurants. We enjoyed both the best fish'n'chips spot on our trip, McDonagh's, and the bookshop voted the best in Ireland last year, Charlie Byrne's. The latter was a delightful place to check out new and old books of all kinds, with particular emphasis on Irish writers of all vintages.

We took a ferry to InisOirr, the smallest of the three major Aran Islands, a half-hour ride from Doolin. The island was relatively quiet and made you realize what life was like there over the centuries. We walked around some and enjoyed local beer at the pub as the pony carts paraded by as did the cyclists. On the trip back we saw the Cliffs of Moher from the sea and then were transported to see them from the top. Misty at the top but a nice natural site. The ride back along Galway Bay was spectacular, as was dinner at O'Grady's on the Bay in Barna near Galway.

Lissadell House in Co. Sligo is a historic country house that had been the seat of the Gore-Booth family, Irish aristos. The eldest daughter, Constance, became Countess Marcievicz, a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising spared by the Brits because of her being a woman, and she went on to become the first female Cabinet member in Europe as Minister of Labour in the first Irish Free State goivernment in the 1920s.

We had taken a Revolution 1916 tour in Dublin that ended at the General Post Office where the risers had their headquarters. British executed the leading six and thus lost the majority support that they had seemed to have before that, leading to Irish independence and partition after World War I in 1921. Yeats' poem said it all: "All changed, changed utterly:/
A terrible beauty is born."

No comments:

Post a Comment