Thursday, October 27, 2011

Day 6. Carrick-on-Shannon

Erf sent me off with a loaner book on 25 scenic drives in Ireland and today, since I was staying put in Carrick-on-Shannon again, I decided to do the one in the area.

My plan was to rest and relax and take a short drive around the area. But I forgot how nearly impossible that is to do in Ireland. It may be a small country, but it takes a while to get anywhere. And it's so beautiful that you have to stop and pull over to take pictures all the time.

So the day wasn't as restful as I had hoped, but it sure was beautiful and had a fun and surprising end to the night!

The scenic drive had me going through Boyle (I'd been there before!) where I dropped off clothes to be laundered while I checked out the area. I took a similar picture last year and was reminded of how much I liked this area with the river flowing through town and the colorful doors.

I continued onto Roscommon where I went in search of the castle. I turned onto a small street, parked at the end near a gate and entered into a beautiful park with the Roscommon Castle to the right.

It was so peaceful and green and beautiful. I walked into the grounds of the castle ruins and was grateful that I was the only one checking it out.

After the short walk around the castle grounds and the park, I headed into town and ate lunch at a place called Regan's. Regan is a name in my family on my mother's mother's side. Through the little bit of research I'd done, I recognized the name right away and walked inside for lunch, a Guinness and some quiet time to write in my journal.

With lunch behind me, I continued on this loop and ended up at the Strokestown Park House and Famine Museum. I had hoped to enjoy it more than I did, but it was freezing cold where the exhibit was, not terribly interactive and ultimately boring. After walking through the various rooms that held the information and exhibits, I realized that the outside of the museum should have been my first indication that this wasn't going to be all that.

On my way back, I pulled over when these sheep and their reflection called my attention. As I pulled over and leaned against my car to take a few pictures, a BMW pulled over and out came a man in his mid to late 30s wearing a flannel jacket, a cap and wellies. He said, "I should charge ye. That's my land!" He was joking, of course, and I walked over and showed him the picture I was taking.

And then again when I passed the most religious phone booth

After picking up my laundry, I went off in search of the Elphin Windmill- something I unsuccessfully tried to find last year. This is what I learned about it online: Just outside the town is the recently restored 18th Century Elphin Windmill, built in 1720, and restored in 1996. and is in full working condition - the only one in the West, and the oldest in Ireland.

Once back to the B&B later than I had hoped, I took it easy for a little bit before deciding to head back over to the Thatch. The four minute walk is easy enough, but it gets a little dodgy with the cars and the hidden turns. I knew it'd be "dead in the water" as Gene likes to say (who was "up north visiting his girlfriend"), but was willing to take that chance. I figure a slow night at the Thatch will be better than most nights anywhere else!

I wasn't there for more than 30 minutes when gorgeous George walked in and asked if I was interested in going into town for a trad session at a local pub in town, Cryan's. Since there really wasn't anything going on at the Thatch and George was offering to drive me, I figured why not!

It was a great session and I liked getting to know another pub in town. But holy god, I always forget how late things get started around here. George (and Jim Owens, an accordion player I've come to know through the Thatch) didn't start playing until nearly 1030pm. By midnight I was dragging and struggling to finish the first (and only) Guinness I ordered that night and my 1230am I was praying and hoping George would want to get going.

I was home and in bed around 1am, feeling overwhelmed by my very full day, but grateful for all the beautiful things I did see and the friendships I've made through the Thatch and their thoughtfulness in including me in on their evening plans away from the Thatch.


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