Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Into the Connemara




My car's being making some noises that I think may be symptomatic of a loose muffler, so I decided to take it easy on the road today - no garages being open this bank holiday Monday.

I drove out along the northern edge of Galway Bay towards Rossaveal, departure point for the nearest Aran Island Ferries. We stopped in Spiddal first, where we took a dip in the tea-coloured waters of one beach adjacent to a stream-mouth.

At Rossaveal, I checked at the ferry booking desk that it would be OK to take Bondi out. This was confirmed, and I had a long chat with the booking clerk and some customers stopping through. One asked if Bondi had "a clip over the ear" to enable him to travel internationally :-). I booked a ticket for tomorrow, choosing to go first to the largest island and then island hopping to the smallest (of three) midway through the day.

I drove north through Maam Cross with the idea of doing a small loop through Cong, a very pretty village between the lakes Lough Corrib and Lough Mask where the film The Quiet Man was filmed with John Wayne & Maureen O'Hara in 1951.










The countryside, already much drier seeming than even the Burren, became dramatically different to anything I'd passed through over the last 10 days. I'm now well and truly in the land of Connaught/Connacht which includes the counties of Galway and Mayo.










At the point where I was to turn towards Cong, I elected to take a detour up to Leenane, on Killary Harbour, Ireland's only fjord. The area is the setting for the book I'd just finished Notes in a Coma. I'd noticed at the Rossaveal booking desk that 90 minute boat-rides were available, and it seemed like a good way to fill in the long day. Bondi wasn't allowed to go on that ride, and there wasn't anywhere I could leave him, so I skipped back into Leenane, itself made famous through Martin McDonagh's play The Beauty Queen of Leenane, and the film The Field with Richard Harris.










I was having another day where I couldn't find anywhere to eat. The cafes were either serving food that would give me a heart-attack retroactively, or there was nowhere to sit out of the sun. At the Blackberry Cafe, I asked if Bondi could come in and sit in a corner, the girl said I couldn't let a beast as mental as that in.









I drove back towards Maam, and then towards Cong, stopping for a while to swim in Lough Corrib and read a bit of Tony Hawks' Around Ireland with a Fridge. After some wading around and gulping water, Bondi lay beside the lake where the water permeated the fringing grasses.

In Cong itself I discovered to my horror that my digital camera CCD had appeared to have conked out. I subsequently verified the symptoms were due to an acknowledged manufacturing flaw but Sony were only offering free repairs in the US where a class action suit had been placed. I read just now that a blow to the right side of the camera may fix it. (Wow, it did. Pity I didn't know that 4 hours ago :-( ).

I was planning to postpone my trip to the Aran Islands until Wednesday so that I could get the car attended to and replace the camera, but now the issue is less clear-cut. A decision for the morning...


Chris told me that there is a BBC-2 TV program on this week (Thursday, Horizon 9pm) on Temple Grandin, the autistic animal scientist, whose book Animals in Translation I read last week: The Woman Who Thinks Like a Cow

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