Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Day 3: Fanore to Ballyvaughan, mythic meets the mystical

A carpet of wildflowers graced the trail from Fanore to Ballyvaughan, at least part of the way.

This morning is one of those “it might rain” weather forecasts, and a few sprinkles are falling already as Amy drives the kids to school and us a mile farther up the road to the trailhead for the hike to Ballyvaughan.

We’re all talking rapidly as if trying to squeeze a lifelong friendship into a five-minute ride. We really like Amy and her family.

She tells us of the difficulties of the universal lockdown in Ireland during Covid, how neighbors turned in neighbors if they violated the 5 or 10-kilometer perimeter set up for each home, how stir-crazy everyone became, and how hard it was to make a living on a short leash. 

“You’re heading out on my favorite hike,” says Amy. “We all discovered the Burren and hiking during the lockdown. It was the only thing we could do. And now I love it.”

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Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Day 2, The Burren Way: Doolin to Fanore, flirting with the edges of The Burren

Where the road begins its descent toward Fanore. A rare house on this part of the pathway.

There are several ways to walk from Doolin to Fanore on the Wild Atlantic Way. I think we picked the longest, toughest, wettest, and most rewarding.

Or maybe it picked us.

Our walk takes us up near the top of Slieve Elva – the highest point in the Burren – with misty views, from the Cliffs of Moher to the ghostly Aran Islands to Galway Bay and the vaguest wisp of Connemara beyond.

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Ireland, Memoirs -- fact and fiction, photography, Uncategorized, Writings

Walking Ireland

On the road to Fanore from Doolin on the Wild Atlantic Way, County Clare.

A walking vacation in Ireland was supposed to be a birthday present from Rose Alcantara to me a couple of years ago. We both thought that the idea of a 70-year-old man walking around the Emerald Isle was perfectly sound and a touch romantic.

Albert Sharpe (left) as Darby O’Gill and Jimmy O’Dea at the Leprechaun King — this is the image I was working with as I envisioned walking around Ireland.

You know: a shaggy old gent dressed in tweeds, canvas spats, a carved walking stick, one of those adorable wool caps the sheepherders wear, a small daypack with wine, cheese, and brown bread. Maybe a pipe.

I envisioned gentle green-carpeted trails beside burbling brooks from which I could snag a trout on a fly rod for dinner back at the lodge. There would be castle ruins, steaming beef stew, leprechauns, sheep a plenty, and fey red-headed colleens waving from windows as I walked through quaint and ancient hamlets.

You know what happened. Because it happened to you as much as it happened to us. And it wasn’t banshees, laddie.

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