Céad Míle Fáilte – A Hundred Thousand Welcomes to Ireland

Before I begin with Ireland, I will insert part of the fireworks display from the 4th of July in Denmark.  Since any followers have already read that post, it is probably best to insert it here, as well as inserting it back into the 4th of July post for any future followers, so here goes:

And now that I’ve added the video, I can continue on to Ireland. The best I could do without arriving in Ireland too late in the day was a 7am flight , so off we went in a taxi at 4am to the Cardiff Airport, flying in another small plane to Edinburgh where we had a 3 hour layover,  after which we finally landed at Knock Airport.

Two hours later by taxi, we arrived at our destination – the Abbeyglen Castle Hotel in Clifden, Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. The countryside was just as green as it appears in photographs – absolutely gorgeous. We also passed fields of grazing sheep, and I noted that patches of their wool had been dyed (in one farm they were bright pink and in another, pink and blue) to denote who their owners were.

The Abbeyglen was a beautiful building from another era, made of stone and lovely woodwork the likes of which you don’t see these days in modern buildings. The dining room was very elegant and our room made us feel like we were in someone’s home rather than a hotel, with a large bedroom and sitting room complete with a day bed and couch.

One thing I did notice here, as well as London, Wales and Scotland was that the showers did not have a glass shield all the way around the tub. A glass “door” only went half the length of the tub and it had to be angled in to keep the water from going all over the floor.

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Entrance and front of the hotel

and a very curious edifice close to the hotel building

Across the street from the hotel was an inlet that turned out to be part of the Atlantic Ocean, so when the tide came it appeared to be a lake, and when the tide went out again, it was a large mud flat.

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It reminded me of when I was in Cameroon with a British charity. We had stayed in a small hotel right on the beach before heading inland. Before going to bed the waves came right up to the small retaining wall at the edge of the lawn. In the morning I was astonished to see people out on the rocks for quite a distance in what had been the ocean the night before.  I had grown up on Long Island in New York State, but had been away from the sea for so long that I had forgotten about the tides! Another thing that was different was the orientation of North vs South; on Long Island, looking out at the Atlantic, north was to the left and south to the right, but on the other side of the ocean north was now to the right and south to the left.

Clifden was a beautiful small town and you could walk around the perimeter in no time at all. Many restaurants,  bars, beauty shops, jewelry stores and a BOOKSTORE!  I was in heaven, and browsed and finally bought 4 books – one of which, of course, was “How the Irish Saved Civilization.” With electronic books taking over, it is becoming more and more difficult to find paper books and book stores, at least in the United States.

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We did walk over to the post office, which was quite tiny. I had been hoping to send the bottle of Akvavit that I had purchased in the duty-free shop in Denmark to my son in Denver, however it was a no-go – at 45% alcohol, it was too potent to go through the mail.  If it had been a much smaller percentage of alcohol, it would have been ok.

However, what we COULD send were gifts we had bought and Brenna’s prom dress and fancy shoes back to her mother in New York. Problem was, the post office didn’t sell boxes, so we had to go next door to the stationery store to purchase a shipping box, then return to the post office and send it off.

Since I had already opened the sealed duty-free bag in which the alcohol was packaged, I needed lots of bubble wrap so that I could put the bottle in my checked suitcase for our next flight.  Unfortunately, the stationery store was out of bubble wrap. They kept telling me “it will be delivered later in the day” and “it will be delivered tomorrow” but that never happened.  We did go into a supermarket across the street and I noticed an employee putting bottles of wine on the shelf, so I asked if they happened to have bubble wrap from their deliveries of wine. Sure enough they did – she was very nice and went under the counter to give me as much as I wanted.

In the morning, we also went looking for a good place for Brenna to get a haircut, and inquired from some of the local people where to go. We finally found a highly-recommended shop and Brenna took her seat for a haircut, and also decided to get highlights. With all her hair, the cut took quite a while, and by then it was time for lunch. The beautician said that we should just go get something to eat and would let us pay for the cut just yet, saying she knew we would be back.

After lunch, we returned and a few hours later, Brenna had her cut and highlights. She had been talking with the beautician during the cut and mentioned that this trip was her 16th birthday gift, so when Brenna tried her best to give her a tip, she absolutely refused and wished her a happy birthday. Everyone we met here in Clifden was so incredibly nice, it was like we were home and they were family….

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Brenna with her new  ‘do

and, of course, eating more salmon

     We did more wandering around and found a shop with, among other things, wool clothing. Poor Brenna still hadn’t found a hat that she fancied, but I found one:

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and so we went back to the hotel.

And now for a little backstory about the Abbeyglen.  I knew when planning this trip that I wanted to go to Ireland, but not sure exactly where to go. My step-daughter, Brenna’s mother, suggested that we go here. Brenna’s great-grandparents had gone and her parents had gone there also, so we would be carrying on a family tradition.

Unbeknownst to Brenna, her mother had called ahead to let the staff know we would be coming and it was for her 16th birthday, and so they planned a surprise for her. Well, it was supposed to be a surprise, but before the waiter brought her cake, he talked with me about MY birthday, and I had to say “No, it’s my granddaughter’s birthday.” Oops!

But it was to be brought out imminently anyway, so no harm done:

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And so, that will end my post for today. The next article will be all about Kylemore Abbey and further adventures around Clifden. Until next time……………….

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