I left a big chunk out of my Ireland update. That’s because the Aran Island of Inis Mor was the one place on the trip that was new for me, and it rocked, and hence needed its own entry.
We arrived at Inis Mor by ferry, from near Galway. We’d booked a hostel, online, based on a poster we saw at our Galway hostel – it was called ‘The Artist’s Lodge’, and the poster was pretty.
When we arrived at the hostel (depsite crappy directions and signage), it turned out to be what I can only describe as an old farm house. There was no art to be found in the place. Its ‘extensive Irish literature library’ (as advertised on the pretty poster) consisted of a shelf holding a few books about the Beckhams.
There was no one there.
We went up the road to a pub for some lunch, and wandered back down later, hoping to check in. The landlady was there this time, smoking and packing. She didn’t have our reservation.
‘We booked online, yesterday,’ I said.
‘Do you have a receipt?’
‘Um, no, but I have the confirmation email. I didn’t print it but I can bring it up on the computer for you.’
‘We don’t do email.’
‘Do you see your name in this book?’ She handed me a notebook with people’s names and room numbers scrawled in pencil.
‘And no receipt at all then?’
‘Well, write your name down here, and you can have beds 4 and 5. Then write down a phone number – not yours, someone else’s.’
‘I’m going to Galway, will be back in a few days.’
For the rest of the day other people showed up, wandered around the house wondering if they had a room to stay in or not. When Jenny turned on the hostel computer, a webpage popped up with all of our online reservations noted, our names on a list. The man who was supposed to be running the place for the weekend, we discovered later, was in the pub down the road the entire time.
The bleak hostel was easily forgiveable, because Inis Mor looks like this.
We spent the whole of the next day riding around the island on bikes, apparently missing the one big thing everyone goes to Inis Mor to see. We decided (much like when we just narrowly missed the lava tubes of Queensland in 2000) to pretend it didn’t exist.
No matter. We saw a great deal of countryside, cloaked in a grid of stone fences (Who built these things? How long did it take?), and a lot of sea, random farm animals, and cliffs. Beautiful plunging cliffs.
We’d bought beer to drink in exactly that location.
And because the Aran Islands are the home of Aran sweaters, I had to knit a row or two. It seemed only right.
Oh yes, and this:
The night we arrived, we walked for ages to find a restaurant that was still open for dinner, and found a place on a hill. The service was crap, and they were out of half of what was on the menu. But just as we were finishing our meal people started filing in holding instrument cases; mostly violin cases, but banjos and accordians too. And then this happened.