It’s hard to leave Ireland when the sun is shining. Blue skies, light breeze and 65` makes it the best place in the world. But there was a bleak windswept rainy day last week when I was ready to jump over the Cliffs of Moher…) I purchased a book of legends and myths nicely illustrated in Celtic embroidered style sheets for my little boy. I will enjoy reading it with him- Cú Chulain, Ferdia, Setanta, and Brian Ború.
The Cliffs of Moher on a good day - Liscanor Stone slabs in the foreground
It’s not easy to jump off the cliffs – because the wind blows so hard from the seaward side that there is more danger of being blown under a tour-bus than making it to the floor below. According to legend, it takes roughly 10 days for the body to show up at Lahinch Beach. Maybe next time.
Established in 1620, Durty Nelly's is one of the oldest public houses in Ireland
I stopped at Durty Nelly’s beside Bunratty Castle today on my way to Shannon. I love Durty Nelly’s because it is at once unequivocally Irish and still you can meet people there from all over the globe. I spoke to people from Brazil, China, UK, France, Lithuania, Canada and of course Wisconsin. Does that count as USA? Bunratty looked intense in a strong southerly breeze that showed the Munster and Ireland flags fluttering animatedly.
Ireland Flag and Muster Flag flying spiritedly atop Bunratty Castle
People are beginning to think about driving back to the cities and work – after the long bank-holiday weekend. How can work and Bunratty be reconciled. I just got an email from a very large and industrious company in Seattle asking me if I was back – exhorting me to attend a meeting in the 21st century…. Arghhhh! In Carna the festival committee is already planning next years’ events and making notes of the highlights of this last few days and nights. What music and dance. We are so lucky! I am fixing my calendar for Carna next year too. Seattle meetings will just have to wait.
Tonight the pubs will be quiet in Carna. Tigh Meaic and Moran‘s will have a moment to catch their breathes – at least until next weekend when another festival will get the ball rolling all over again.
Conversation, Irish and English at the Zetland Hotel - it used to be a fishing lodge in a past life
A conversation overheard at the bar last evening. At least 263 young boys and girls leave Ireland every day. Weddings are popular around Christmas and New Years because that is when there is a high chance that friends will be back for a while – could attend the wedding party. I see it at Shannon today. Young people leaving for Australia, France, Germany, UK. There are a lot of broken hearts in Ireland tonight.
I plan on keeping up a post when I get back. It won’t have fresh pictures from Roundstone or Carna each day – but there will be thoughts and ideas to share. I will close out this trip with a sunset viewed over the Shannon estuary. A giddy kingfisher walked webbed scratchy prints out onto the slimy sunlit mud ever mindful to confuse the geologist a few million years from now who might try to decipher his fossilized imprint.
A lone piper casts a penny shadow into Joyce's murderous Shannon to anchor his soul until another sunset
And just when you think its over… the miracle of miracles. I am finishing up a piece of writing for that not-to-be-mentioned industrial company in Seattle when I am distracted by whistle and vocal sounds – Where is the Ring I gave to Nancy Spain. There are no speakers in this sparse room by the airport so I went into the restaurant to see what was going on. Nothing. I was making my way back to the room when I heard Uilleann Pipes in the room beside me – it was a meeting room. I squeezed through the door to find a class in session with 35 students from a university cultural class from the Ohio valley being entertained and educated in the art of Irish music. It was none other than Mickey Dunne the famous traveling piper. A few minutes later it was dueling pipers – Mickey is a good friend of many people in the Seattle Piping community including Tommy Creegan, Michael Cruite and Phil White. In fact he had been in Dingle two days ago to get a reed from Cillian O’Brian and they were both talking about this Cork piper traveling around from Seattle. So I was the traveling poiper in his eyes – since Mickey is from Limerick. What a treat. Only in Ireland.
Mickey Dunne, the traveling piper playing for American students in the room next door
Needless to say, a grand time was had by all. We played several reels, jigs and hornpipes and afterwards chatted about how in a modern world the traveler can be the learner as well. Ó thuaidh!