We are in a little village in Ireland for two weeks. This is of some interest to the locals, because very few tourists a) know someone to stay with in the village instead of staying at Dromoland Castle, the fancy hotel, and b) because we have very few plans while we are here. We drove through Connemara on the way from the airport in Knock down to County Clare, and since we had a car the first two days, we trekked to the Clare coast and saw the Cliffs of Moher. Besides that, though, our plan was just to stay in the village and soak up village life.
This was the original plan for the trip, you know. We were going to stay in villages and make periodic day trips to bigger cities to see the sights. But once we discovered the joys of Schengen, and that our time on continental Europe was limited to only 90 days, it suddenly seemed vital to see all there was to see whenever we were in a Schengen country. To facilitate this, we decided to stay in big cities and sightsee as much as possible (in other words, as much as Lori physically could handle).
It has been wonderful. We have had a fantastic trip so far (it’s already three-fourths over, which hardly seems possible). But oh my gosh – it has been exhausting. Some days, it feels like we have walked for miles, because we have been on our feet the whole day. Other days, in order to get the most from multi-day museum passes, we cram in so many sights – so many museums, so many paintings – that it feels like our heads will explode from any further visual stimulation.
That won’t be the case here in Newmarket-on-Fergus. The view from our bedroom window is of rolling hills with cattle grazing. There is one main street through the village, two markets, a pharmacist, some banks and realtors, a few other businesses, a hotel and three or four pubs. We have discovered a little café that has wi-fi, and Quinland got a library card yesterday and showed me, beaming with delight, that she had checked out eight books. (She has already finished three of them.)
I am planning to spend the time writing blog posts at odd hours, as Q is finishing a paper for school. I have already posted a couple, and written drafts this morning for a couple more. (It is my Drug Day, the day I take the mega-steroids, so I can’t sleep. I warned Christine that I might rearrange furniture or pull weeds, as well. I never know if I will have energy in the wee morning hours, or be so jittery I can’t do anything.)
We are still going to see plenty of Irish sights, as it turns out. Christine’s brother, Brian, took us up to The Burren on Sunday, which was fantastic. Her mother has offered to take us to Bunratty Castle and Folk Park, and I love nothing more than a good folk park, so I am psyched. We will walk to a Celtic ring fort that is just outside the village, and Christine is generously inviting me to meet her friends at the pub and at the Book Group coffee morning.
I’m learning plenty, as well: I stopped a man on the footpath the other day to ask about some flags in the windows of local houses, and we ended up chatting for ages about Ireland and America and history and politics and economics and teaching. (David and Quinland ultimately came up the road to find out what had happened to me, and they claim I was “missing” for two hours. It is very possible! Quinland was thanking her lucky stars she was not with me, for I have inherited my mom’s skill and tendency to speak to random strangers, and Q finds it mortifying.) I later discovered that this conversation was something of a feather in my cap, for the retired gentleman in question is known for “not mixing,” and the ladies of the town figure I might have been the first female he has spoken to in more than a decade. I say, “Good job, me!”
— Written a couple of days ago. I’ve been laid up after drug day, but I’m back up and around and at the Cafe again. xo – Lori
I’m grateful for Christine’s amazing hospitality. It is so nice to feel “at home” somewhere.