Oh my. Day twenty. How did that happen?
Some light drizzle over night, but the weatherman suggests that this may shape up to be the hottest day of summer yet with a predicted 30 degrees. Sure doesn’t look like it this morning!
The morning starts as usual, with coffee. Chris has my little espresso percolator working overtime, but I do miss my morning coffee from Salida. And my afternoon coffee. Coffee in general, really.
We hit the Wild Atlantic Way again, but the Tom Tom confuses us and we loop around a couple of times. It has an annoying habit of heading us towards main roads, even when we program villages specifically on the route we want. In the end we turn it off and trust
the road signs. One of the them takes us down an “L” road, ones we have usually avoided, but it works out ok, and after the frustration of going the way we didn’t want to, we settle to some fine sea and river views. The landscape now is open farmland, wide rivers, interspersed every so often with a neat little village with a hydrangea garnish. We pass one house which has a garden full of pastel hydrangea – so many flowers that you can’t see the plants. In our quick passing, it looks reminiscent of a garden decorated for a
We also see the most amazing cows – I’m not quick enough to react to shoot a photo, they are unique. Black in colour, with one wide pure white band around their middles – exactly like a Dutch rabbit. I hope we see another herd so I can take a photo. We also see lots of horses, mainly white, and lots of little brown donkeys. There have been many donkeys in our travels. Apparently they came here during the Napoleonic wars and were very much the “workhorse” of the land until machinery took over. Now they are kept as pets and rarely work, or if they do, it’s to carry peat. We’ve seen a few peat cuttings drying for winter too. These are always fascinating.
The weatherman was right, the day warms up nicely and by lunch time it’s T-shirt weather. We have a brief stop for lunch then debate our next step. It’s not as simple as it could be. I have the Wild Atlantic Way detailed in a photograph, but not on a map (given its popularity, why Irish tourism would not mark it on all maps is beyond me), we have a high level map, that doesn’t show the Way, and a low level map which doesn’t show it either,and of course the tom tom, that just wants to take us back to the highway!
While we debate that, we come across a detour off the Way to Carrigafoyle Castle. Built in the 1500s in the tower house style, it was originally an island in the estuary of the river Shannon, surrounded by walled moat. Quite impenetrable with thick stone walls and five stories high. Even so, in 1580, the castle fell and was looted and its valuables were sent to Queen Elizabeth 1. It presents today almost in cross section, with a slice cutout of the front of it, revealing each of the levels, and some truly wonderful stonework which is still perfect and very impressive centuries later. The river silt has taken over though and the castle now stands in silt to the side of the river – it’s an interesting insight into the movement of the river over time.
We climb to the top via a narrow stone spiral staircase. The view is worth the terror of the stairs. I somehow make it up (Chris flies up – he is free of fear), but can’t contemplate getting down (my palms are drenched even as I type this hours later). Chris comes to the rescue – I balance on his shoulder, and focusing only on his back, slowly walk down. I’ve plummeted down too many flights of stairs to ever take them lightly…and they’re modern “ergonomic” ones! It’s not just me – as I was going up, a little boy was very grateful for a helping hand coming down. He looked as freaked out as I was when he came across a section of stairs free of a wall to balance against.
Safely back on ground level, we make our way to the car ferry which will take us across the river Shannon (which is vast, but narrow at this point) into county Clare. We are at this point, half way though our journey on the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s proving a great way of seeing Ireland.
That might do us for the day. Vodka replenished, and some nice Irish whisky to hand, it’s time to relax, settle, and have a drink by the sea and get back into my book.