Ireland & Northern Ireland
Galway to Derry
April 2, 2007
President: Glenn "Wally" Faunce
2923-E Olney-Sandy Spring
Olney, MD 20832
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We got up and left the Courtyard Galway at about 10:30 AM and started towards Derry. It took longer than I expected. We had planned on stopping in Roscommon to see where Matt’s dad was from but our late stop and slow progress changed our plans. We stopped a little after noon and wanted to get something to eat. The first place we stopped at was closed. This wasn’t a good start to the day. We finally found Moran’s Pub and bed and breakfast and stopped for a pint. There was a cute old couple running the place and they looked worn out. We found out that there daughter had just got married this weekend and things had been a little crazy. We were pretty sure their son was the bartender and he looked a little worse for wear also.
We were almost finished with our pint and were going to head on since they only had sandwiches and soup to eat when a group of five guys from Arizona stopped in who had come from Northern Ireland. They were headed where we had just been so we got another pint and shared info on what we each had done. They are going to be back in Dublin at the end of the week so I gave them my card and told them we’d be at the Temple Bar Hotel.
We went on our way and decided to stop for gas in Ireland rather than Northern Ireland because it was cheaper. Of course we stop at the one gas station that has a broken credit card machine and a bathroom whose lock is broken and won’t open. Our next stop was in Balleybofey where we had a pint in Bonner’s Corner Pub. We talked to the bartender and a couple of people for awhile who told us about Aranmore Island where there wasn’t any police presence and nothing ever closed. They said it was just a crazy place. You can only get on the island by ferry so if anyone sees a police car getting on the ferry the word goes out and everyone knows by the time they arrive on the island. We wanted something to eat and were told to go to the Gallery Bar where we had great burgers. I also had a fantastic bowl of seafood chowder.
Matt bought some razors and I took some pictures of a soccer field. A lot of the soccer fields are built right on the roadway and they have these enormous nets behind the goal to keep balls from flying onto the road. It only took us about 45 minutes for get to Derry from Balleybofey and I actually had an idea of where the Travelodge was and found it quite quickly. We arrived at about 4:30 PM and chilled out until about 8:00 PM before heading out for the evening in Derry.
Derry is one of the oldest towns in Ireland and isn’t quite as clean as Galway. It seemed like a ghost town walking around at night but it was a Monday. Matt compared the city to what he imagined Pittsburgh would have been like in the 70’s. We are a couple of blocks from the downtown walled part of the city. There are plenty of plaques and information describing the wall. We will see most of the Tuesday. We stopped at the River Inn and had a pint and got a rundown of places to go in the area from the girl who was bartending. She also told us that the government had just raised pint prices 10 pence yesterday. Our usual great timing. Northern Ireland is just catching up with Ireland on the smoking ban also. There is a huge difference in the pub smells. Cigarette smoke is predominating in all the Northern Ireland pubs. That’s all changing on April 30 when they start enforcing the same smoking ban that exists in Ireland.
We next headed to The Metro and W. Gee’s bar where we had a pint in each and watched some of the Aston Villa – Everton soccer game. Matt’s trying to learn anything he can to help his chances of not losing every game he coaches.
The night turned interesting at the next pubs and the place where we got some food at the end of the evening. We stopped in the Rocking Chair and had a couple of pints. It broke our one pint per pub rule but we had to stay. The bartender took us outside and started showing us what to see tomorrow in the city in regards to “The Troubles” when an undercover police car drove by. He obviously had no love for the police. We both said later in the evening that this was about the time we realized that everyone in this pub was older and they had all had to live through some terrible times in this city. But the funniest thing that happened was this older man who was a dwarf about 2.5 feet tall came up to Matt and I and pointed to Matt first and said, “You can stay”, then pointed at me and said, “But you, you’ve got to go”. The crowd burst into laughter as it was just a hilarious line. The little guy was pounding down some Guinness also. I was amazed he could still stand. We took some pictures together. I’ve got to send a copy to the bar.
We left after our second pint and had a pint at a pub called Bound for Boston which apparently has been around since the mid 1800’s and was a traditional spot for people to have their last pint of Guinness in Ireland before heading to America.
Things really got crazy at our last pub of the night. We had just about finished our last pint of the evening at The Dungloe when all hell broke loose. I looked down the bar and saw this guy walking behind Matt with just a pissed off look in his eye. I started to tell Matt we’ve got to go and the guy with the look starts a fight with another guy right behind us. That year of bouncing told me to get the hell out of the way. The bartender was amazing in breaking the fight up. He threw the instigator out the back door and locked the front. He started arguing with the second guy who had been in the fight and told him, “You’re outta here…..after you finish your beer”. The funniest thing of all was everyone was more worried about Matt and I. We became instant pub celebrities in recounting the fight. We were assured it never happens very often any more but we just caught a bad night.
It was hilarious. We were talking to one guy we couldn’t understand and the bartenders kept looking at us saying they can’t understand him either. I had one kid who was maybe 20 years old started talking to me and telling me he was in the PIRA and gave me a whole diatribe on the problems in the area and how they are getting better. We turned at one point and a guy was doing a Peter Sellers/Pink Panther/Latrouse Letrec impersonation. Matt had finally connected with his roots. Good times. We finally left our new crazy friends and headed back to the hotel.
We stopped at the Fresh Food Express across the street from the hotel and got some late night food. I had a great chicken sandwich and Matt had a Mexican Taco box which he said was French fries covered with beef and cheese. We ran into a group of kids who had a bunch of face piercings and funny colored hair who like most wanted to talk to me since I towered over there friend who was about 6’4” but weighed about 150 pounds. We played around for awhile before heading to the hotel.
The Travelodge door is locked and our key didn’t fit any lock but we finally noticed a sign saying ring for entrance. We kept ringing until someone came down. We apparently annoyed him with our ringing as he opened the door and told us we only had to ring once. Well how were we supposed to know? We got to the room and finished our food.
We hadn’t been in our room more than a couple of minutes when we heard a ruckus outside of our window. There was a fight going on outside the Buddha Bar across the street. Matt watched from our window for about a half hour. It was better than television; we had our own reality television outside of our window. We finally finished watching the shenanigans outside of “Matt’s People” and went to bed about 1:30 AM.
Continue To Derry To Belfast - April 3, 2007
Return To Doolin To Galway - April 1, 2007