Monday, May 17, 2010
Donegal is a ball.
This past weekend I headed out to Donegal and Derry with my Irish friend John. I met John through my dear friend Wiz, who's been keeping up a splendid long distance relationship with him for the past year. Power to ya'll! Anyway, he picked me up and we drove to the most northernly point of Ireland, Malin Head, in County Derry. The ride up was sunny, lovely and uneventful. We chatted, got ice cream (a gross strawberry crunch bar for me, white chocolate Magnum bar for him--better choice), and enjoyed the long lasting sunshine. We arrived at our hostel at 9:56, 4 minutes before closing time, and John and I were the only people there! It was slightly eerie, but it was a nice hostel nonetheless. Freezing cold, but lovely. We headed to the local old man pub down the road and enjoyed Guinness, hot whiskey and some truly ridiculous company. We met a lady from Galway who married a Donegal man and has been "trapped" up there ever since. She was SERIOUSLY sloshed and told us how she was with child whilst swinging around a glass of wine. Charrrrming. I hope she was kidding. She also informed us that her husband was two timing her, yet her husband was so drunk he couldn't actually form words. Madness! Then a gnarled old gentleman approached me singing some Irish ballad and then informed me that his wife had died 4 years ago "but you just have to get on with life." He asked to see my hands (I assume to check if they were fit for hard labor), told us how he has 500 sheep with only 5 lamb casualties, a huge house with 9 bedrooms and then lastly told us about his knee and how he broke it in 3 places. And then sang to me again. And may or may not have accidentally brushed up against me and then insisted he wasn't a perverted old man. I'm pretty sure he wanted me to be his new bride, and I'm not sure what I was thinking turning him down. It was a crazy night.
But we slept well that night, made eggs for breakfast and then drove around Malin Head. It's really beautiful and has some amazing views of the Atlantic, though we couldn't see Scotland because of the rain/hail that pelted us for 20 minutes. But after that the weather was quite lovely and sunny. The beaches are gorgeous and the water is so, so blue! We visited Banba's Crown (the actual tip of Ireland) where they used to receive messages from America (or something, sorry the details are fuzzy), the raised beaches where you can apparently search for semi-precious stones, though we didn't find any, the "Wee house" and old church remains--according to legend the wee house (a cave) could hold as many people as would enter and is now a big Christian pilgrimage, drove the Inishowen 100--a lovely drive around the coast, hiked around some cliffs, and I suspect we saw the Devil's Hole, a huge chasm in some cliffs, though I can't be sure. Anyway it was good fun and we found a beautiful beach to walk along on a bay. Yay! Then we stopped into Malin for lunch and continued on to Derry!
Our hostel in Derry (in Northern Ireland) was SUPER super nice. It was basically a house and had the most amazing freshly baked bread. I actually may have eaten half the loaf. Ok so I did, whatever. IT WAS SO FRESH. But we hung around the hostel for a bit and watched some of Snatch. We were sooo tired for some reason--probably all the driving. But then we headed to Flamin' Jacks (?) for dinner and I had a delicious dinner of chicken tandoori and BANOFFIE PIE. It was so delicious and I couldn't stop smiling as I ate it. Then we headed to a cool pub-Peardagh O'Conor's?-and hung around with the locals. I got a Smirnoff Ice-I have no idea why, probably because I was too full for Guinness and drinks were CHEAP-and a Baileys on ice. So gooood. Then we came back to the hostel, watched a little of Superbad (I retreated to our room to read) and fell asleep. HOWEVER, I was awoken by the LOUDEST snoring I have ever had the misfortune to hear. At 5 or 6 in the morning. So I tried to fall back asleep but was too hot and ended up reading Cosmo in the kitchen downstairs, home-baked bread in hand. Eventually we headed out and walked around the wall of Derry, a fairly massive defensive feature that circled the entire city back in the day. It's a bit over a mile long and quite wide. It was interesting to walk along it and read some of the history of the city, but other than that there wasn't a whole lot to do.
So eventually we headed on our merry way, stopped in Buncrana, Bundoran and Ballyshannon for food/pit stops/ice cream/beach walks and stopped in Sligo to visit old W.B. Yeats's grave. Then after some pics stops (heh, get it?), we finally made our way to Tuam, where I met John's family and had a wonderful home cooked dinner. And delicious rhubard pie! And so much tea and good craic. And cows! I got to meet the cattle (he lives on a farm), pet some beauties, AND I RECEIVED SOME COW KISSES!! I ALSO got to sample some very potent poitín watered down with sugar and water. Illegal Irish moonshine! So exciting! My street cred is hitting the roof, I'm tellin ya. I stayed the night, slept in a tad and eventually got a lift back to Gort na Coiribe with his brother.
Such a fun weekend!!!!! Now I just have to start packing, fully enjoy my last few days in Galway, hit up Coole Park and get shepherd's pie and an Irish coffee. MAN I can't believe my time here is coming to a close...