Ireland & Northern Ireland
Washington, DC to Doolin, Ireland
March 31, 2007
President: Glenn "Wally" Faunce
2923-E Olney-Sandy Spring
Olney, MD 20832
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Everything went great on the flights to Ireland. I got exit row seats from Washington to Boston and Matt and I got real lucky on the Aer Lingus flight from Boston to Shannon with seats. We didn’t get exit row but the flight had only two open seats that happened to be right behind us in the middle section. I told Matt to make his move early to grab one and thank goodness no one else boarded so we got some extra room. Matt did say the kid that was in the row he sat in didn’t seem too happy that Matt took the seat. He thought he was going to get to lie down and sleep the whole trip.
The flight was fine. We even arrived 30 minutes early. That was nice because we ended up being the first flight into Shannon and the first through customs. Getting through customs took about five minutes. Of course it wasn’t all perfect. The first person Matt had to deal with in Ireland, the customs agent, rubbed him the wrong way. There were three lines, one for Irish residents and two for everyone else. The Irish line was empty and the customs agent started waiving to the back of the line for people to come up from our line. No one came and then Matt made his move. Apparently the guy was annoyed that no one had come over and had a crappy attitude when Matt finally did. It was 6:30 AM though so I cut him a break.
We got our luggage right away and went and got our car at Budget and ran into our second person who wasn’t in a good mood. The agent was really not happy about working and was pregnant to boot. She also was terrible at her job. She explained the insurance terrible and then gave me a bill for almost $900. I checked and she had doubled my rate from 99 Euro to 199 Euro. I also noticed that her terrible explanation of the insurance had us taking about $400 in coverage. I did upgrade from a midsize to full size car for 6 Euro a day. We only took the basic insurance and when we went out to the car noticed all kinds of scratches and the antenna was missing. Our form had no damage marked so I went back in and had her put everything we noticed on the form.
I got back in to driving on the left hand side of the road right away with no problems. Like all rookies though it is freaking Matt out a little, especially when we got on the smaller roads. The speed limits on the smaller roads are 100 kilometers per hour which is just crazy. I’m going about 80 kHz and it seems like I’m flying.
We got to Doolin at about 8:00 AM and there was no one was in town. We got to our bed & breakfast and there was nobody home. We found out later we missed her by about 30 minutes. We got back in the car and drove down to Lahinch where there was also nobody around and nothing open. It felt like the world had ended and there were no people around. I finally found a store open and I bought a coke after hitting an ATM machine.
We left Lahinch and went back towards Doolin and stopped at the Cliffs of Moher. They have made major upgrades to the facilities since I was last here. The have this beautiful, modern visitor center now that they have built into the side of a hill. It just opened last month.
You have to get pay for your parking fee of 8 Euro in the visitor center which is also your entrance fee to see the Cliffs of Moher. We walked up to O’Brien’s Tower and noticed the second big change. They have security now keeping people from going over the wall to the edge of the cliff. The last time we were here everyone just jumped over the wall and would go look over the edge. Not today. There wasn’t one person that had gone over the wall. It’s obviously safer but it does take away from the experience some.
We didn’t stay long as it was a little overcast and we were going to see the Cliffs of Moher from a boat tomorrow. We were both exhausted and went back to check into the bed and breakfast. It was about 11:30 AM when we finally checked into Cullinan’s Guesthouse in the heart of Doolin. It is very nice and seems brand new. Mrs. Cullinan told us breakfast was at 8:30 AM and left us alone as she could tell we were tired. Not tired enough though to go across the street and have our first Guinness of the trip at Fitzpatrick’s Pub. It wasn’t your traditional Irish Pub. It was more of a hotel pub that was very large and clean. I told Matt who was a little disappointed in his first Irish pub that they weren’t all like this. We had two Guinness and went back to Cullinan’s to take a nap.
Six hours later we woke up. Cullinan's is great but we had a few problems in the room. Not with the room, in the room. One because we were jet lagged and two we're morons. It took us awhile to figure out the television, which when I finally got it on only had 3 channels. Next, Matt couldn’t figure out the shower. I laughed as I went in next and saw a switch on the outside of the bathroom door that turned the shower on. I think Matt actually used the attachment they had for the tub to take a shower. After he complained about the shower I came out and told him I thought it was the nicest I ever used just to mess with his mind. The room is very large and the beds are great even for my giant 6'8" frame.
We finally headed out for the evening. One of the great things about Cullinan's is it is half way between the three main pubs. O'Connor's is in one direction near the water and McDermott's and McGann's is the other direction. Doolin is a quaint little village that is known for its music. Doolin is famous for it's Irish music and the three main pubs that all have live music in the evening. We went down to the main part of town first and stopped at O’Connor’s Pub. It was the traditional pub Matt was looking for. I had the usual number of gawkers amazed at how tall and large I am. Of course I also ran into the first drunk Irish people talking at light speed so that I couldn’t understand their English. We politely blamed ourselves and lack of sleep.
Matt and I finally got something to eat at about 8:30 AM. I had fish and chips and Matt had Atlantic salmon. We were both happy with our choices. They finally started playing music at about 9:45 AM which is always a treat to see in a pub. I’m certain that the musicians don’t know each other as I noticed them introducing themselves during their session. The pub was packed and the music was great. It’s also neat how they just take a table to sit at and play instead of using a stage.
We listened for awhile and decided to check out the two other pubs on the other side of town. McDermott’s Pub and McGann’s Pub are near each other across a tiny bridge. We went to McDermott’s first but only stayed for one pub as someone had a birthday and they had a DJ instead of traditional music. We did get to hear Lynyrd Skynyrd and Free Bird before we walked to McGann’s. They had traditional music which Matt and I joked sounded like the same song only played differently. McGann’s also had a portrait in the bar of John and Jacqueline Kennedy. Classic Irish Pub. We were still a little jet lagged and headed back about midnight and had one last Guinness at Fitzpatrick’s. Matt had a good night scotch which will probably be his last. All the bars have measuring balls on the booze that pours exactly one ounce. Matt got his shot and said,”they call this a shot; this is what I throw away as backwash”.
We had got some unsettling news that all pubs in Ireland are closed on Good Friday. This rivals stopping all alcohol sales in Costa Rica the day before, the day of and the day after their election. As we found out in Costa Rica though there are loopholes. Apparently hotel bars will be open. Matt already has a backup plan of buying a bottle of scotch. He truly is the one and only Scotchy.
Continue To Doolin To Galway
April 1, 2007