6th Week in Ireland and Counting Down Last Days

Leaving the farm put me back into my travelling mindset. I tried to hitch hike out of town but it wasn’t easy. Instead, I decided to get the bus to Ennis and from there find my way to Doolin. The bus was only €4 anyway so it wasn’t really worth the effort sweating over trying to hitch my way. The bus to Doolin cost me €11 and the bus driver was nice, impressed by my longboard and what I did with it. I didn’t think to stop at the cliffs of Mohor but I figured the Arran islands would have a similar sight.

In Doolin I went out for a Guinness and some music. It was alright but I actually preferred my time in Feakle since that was a more authentic Irish traditional music experience. The people in Doolin were professionals and there were only 4 of them. The people in Feakle came there for themselves and there were maybe 20 players there. I felt that in Doolin the players were more catered to tourists. They played well enough, but I’d already had my Irish ‘trad’ experience.

They had a nice fudge shop in Doolin however and I found the locals to be very friendly. There are some nice sights of the cliffs as well and the ferries go out to the Arran islands from here.

Taking the ferry was easy enough but I tend to get seasick. The way I deal with seasickness is by sleeping and being in fresh air, so I was sitting on the open deck at the front breathing in the sea air taking a pleasant nap waking up as we arrived at the Inis Mor pier.

I missed all the smaller islands of the Arran islands but I figured that Inis Mor, the biggest island, would have the main attractions anyway and I liked taking my time with my trip.

I enjoyed my time on the island. The hostel was nice enough which provided breakfast and other freebies from guests who’d already left. I hung out a lot with the Work-for-Accommodation staff playing cards, chess, connect-4 and going out for the occasional beer with them. They also had a TV room where we watched series, movies and where I read and played didgeridoo when it was empty since they had one lying in the corner.

The island itself was nice enough. I travelled with longboard on the first day since it was dry and I went to a temple built by/for a disciple of St.Patrick. The temple itself was quite small but the cliff edge at the place here was quite impressive. I saw a flock of Puffin birds as well as I scared them and they all took off.

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The next day it was raining so I stayed inside mostly although walked around the village, visiting the sweater shop where they sold the famed Arran sweaters. It was interesting to see the old process of spinning and dying wool to create the clothing they wore.

Since it was wet the day after, I figured renting a bike wouldn’t be a bad idea rather than trying to longboard everything. Good thing that I did since they had some pretty sketchy gravelly roads that I would’ve had to walk otherwise. I biked to all the main attractions, my favourite being the Dun Aengus fort and the Wormhole nearby.

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The fort was cool because of the platform they had at the inner most center of the fort which was edging the sea. It was kind of scary standing close to the edge because of the wind gusts and the long drop to the crashing waves below. It’s interesting how they built the forts here, using the natural feature of the cliff for its defence. The Black fort, which I visited the next day, had a similar idea in mind.

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I like visiting forts because in my mind I would be thinking about the strategies that would’ve been used to attack and defend the strongholds. I visited another fort at the lighthouse, which had a more circular design:

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The cliffs themselves are amazing features as well. Here are some more cliff views:

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The Wormhole was another interesting feature I visited. It’s not straight forward getting there as you have to cross some farmer fields, but getting there is what makes it special as well since I’d imagine not everyone would go out of their way to look for it.

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I don’t actually know much about the history and usage of the Wormhole but its mysteriousness also leaves room for the imagination. Apparently people swim in it during warm weather and high tide. Once the tide gets lower its kind of impossible to get out unless you swam through the underwater cavern that leads to the sea or were prepared somehow. Redbull hosted one of their cliff diving events here:

It was kind of stormy weather when I was there so it kind of looked dangerous attempting to swim in it.

After the Arran islands I made my way to Galway where I planned to spend my last days before catching my plane back to the Netherlands. I ended up hitch hiking after all, without even asking for it. I met some ladies at the hostel who approached me on the ferry asking me if I needed a lift into the city from the ferry landing. That was appreciated.

In Galway I was waiting for Rowan (from Seedsavers) to get in touch with me since he invited me to his DJ gig and a place to stay at his friend’s house. I was sitting inside Supermac’s (the Irish McDonalds ripoff) waiting around writing, reading and gaining knowledge of the area through accessing the WiFi. Coinicidentally, Rowan walked past with his sister and another friend saying he was going to go for a family dinner first and he’d call me after. I figured I’d be waiting a while for him to finish so started wandering around town, particularly interested in checking out the hostels. I asked about room prices and was surprised to find that most hostels were fully booked for the weekend. Apparently a lot of groups come to Galway for the weekend to do their thing, but they empty out on Sunday which meant I’d be good for the day after.

After roaming around, I ended up lounging in the communal area in one of the hostels I checked out. I heard people playing piano and messing around with drums. The piano guy was really good but he kind of stopped playing later since I guess some variety was in place. The drum people weren’t really playing steady rhythms and the guitar players were a bit shy only finger picking very softly on the couch. I decided to make my début and play ‘Fly Away’ by Lenny Kravitz to get things going. People noticed. They seemed to appreciate my singing and playing since it got all quiet and the percussion players accompanied. Its great practice as well dealing with having all eyes on you and everyone listening to what you have to say, waiting eagerly for your next song. The covers I play are alright, but a lot of them are also unfinished. I’m getting better at closing off songs with some improvised endings, remembering the words of my jamming buddy that ‘you end when you feel like it’. If it feels good, just keep going. If you feel you want to add another round of the chorus in there, go for it. Covers are meant to be played around with until you find your groove. Its great to just improvise on the set chords anyway.

I played some of my originals as well and got told to keep going with writing songs. I stayed and jammed with the people until it was 5:00AM and they were closing down the communal area which meant I had to find a place to crash.

Rowan didn’t get back to me. I didn’t mind that much because instead of going to a gig, I created my own. But it meant that I would have to look for some place to burn the time until I’d be able to check in somewhere.

I skated around town with my gear on and rested at a McDonald’s, trying to get my brain to work by journalling. I figured I’d try hanging around the hostel I would eventually want to check into which was Snoozles. They told me to come back at 9:00AM but suggested I could hang out in the bus terminal next door to stay somewhere warm inside. Thankfully, I had my sheepskin from Felice that I could sleep on so I laid that out behind some benches and tried to get some down time before I’d check in at the hostel. It was actually quite comfortable and was glad I could get some shut eye.

The hostel is where I’m writing this blog from and it’s quite alright, with decent facilities but nice mostly because of the people I’ve met. I was too wrecked to talk to anyone in the common room when I first got there and was half napping, half watching TV waiting for my room to be ready.

The comfort of finally having my own room put me at ease and I slumped down in the desk chair and was reflecting on my night. I then met Anna from Alaska who’s easy going personality made me feel instantly comfortable, conversing for a while before I decided to get out and look for some food at the shops.

I made some lunch then took a nap for a few hours. Anna came in to check on me twice as she was letting me know that people were cooking dinner together downstairs. I was still tired but decided to get out the second time as she said the food was ready. I brought some carrots since I didn’t really have anything else to share in terms of food. They were easy going with sharing anyway. After a nice meal, I hung around the common room and started playing guitar. People appreciated my singing here as well, and I gave the guitar to Kevin who I met at dinner and played guitar better than I did. We jammed a bit together and people seemed to be entertained by our performances.

I think I was pretty much saturated with music playing for the day so decided to start writing my blog which I still had to do anyway so here I am. I hope to explore the town more thoroughly tomorrow and the day after I will catch my plane back.

It seems music seems to creep into my life in ways but I still want to do what I do in terms of permaculture and gardening. I can possibly find a way to balance or combine the two but I shall also need to find ways to hustle and sustain myself somehow. We shall see where this journey takes me. I’ll let you know how it continues when I’m back in Holland. Ciao for now 😉

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