Ireland

Day 116 – Back Home and Broke – well Maybe!

This morning was a very early one. Alarm went off before 5:45 and then the hotel wake up call came shortly after. We reorganized and headed off to the airport which in Shannon means walking across the parking lot.   It was very smooth going getting through security and then customs.  Some one I know, as usual, complained about taking off shoes especially when the woman in the wheel chair did not have to take hers off.  That is right of course if one were being logical. If we are talking safety then why wouldn’t the person in the wheel chair have to take off theirs as well.  I wonder if she had not been a little old Irish lady but a middle eastern person would they have made that other person take the shoes off for screening???

Anyway, it all went smoothly and they accepted our declaration of our purchases.  Good thing we did not have to list everything we had purchased and mailed home as well.  The plane left on time and United did a good job except for the food.  We had a morning flight so it was weird getting a chicken meal as our first meal on board.  And it tasted terrible. But the TV on the seat in front of me provided me with two decent movies.  I had time for two little rests and we got sandwiches shortly before landing.

In Newark it also went smoothly.  Got off in Terminal C and took a shuttle bus to Terminal A and went to our gate and waited for the plane which was late arriving.  We left almost 40 minutes late but arrived only 15 minutes late so they made up a bunch of time.  Dan was waiting for us at the exit so it was very nice to see him again.  The bags arrived shortly and we were off for home.  A little bit of snow on the ground and the house was all clean and fresh. I do believe someone came over and did some dusting and mopped the floors since there is no dust anywhere.  I am so grateful..

We chatted with Dan for a long while, got a pizza since our time is all messed up.  At the moment it is 7 pm which would be midnight Irish time. No wonder I am beat.  Both my suitcases are unpacked, almost everything put away and tomorrow I will start sorting the various bags I mailed home.  Thank goodness we did all the laundry before we left so I have no dirty cloths.

Skyping with the totally wired little girls was fun this evening. They had just returned home from a day with their friends and their nanny.  I think they said they went some where but they also made Christmas ornaments which they brought home with them.  They just might be a little excited about Christmas and their special visitors –  Denis had a chat with Norah and a short one with Tim so we now know about dinner plans for tomorrow night.

I took some pictures today from the plane and airport. Dan was not expecting me to take his picture so he was not thrilled but was a good sport.  The green  and rainy ones are Ireland and the more populated, brown grass ones are NY State. And the one with snow is our front yard.  Yes, we are home.  Still not sure how I feel about it but I guess it is the beginning of another adventure.  Emails about three meetings already and one outing with the Red Hats to learn about hypnotism. So January won’t be boring.

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Day 114 – One day and counting – tears and sadness and fond goodbyes

Denis was up and out by 4:45 am to go to see the students off.  There were lots of tears and no one wanted to get on the bus. They each sat alone on the bus probably to hide their tears and to go back to sleep on the ride to Dublin.  A few of them were not leaving with the rest and some of their Irish roommates came to see them off. Very nice at that hour of the morning although it could be that none of them had been to bed yet.  Denis returned and went back to sleep.

Arabica for breakfast was our first stop of the day.. Denis wanted to eat a full Irish Breakfast before we left.  It was way more than he would normally eat and he could not finish it all.  Looked good but was way too much for me.  Even the bowl of granola and yougurt was too much for me.  But it was nice to be there and we will probably be there again tomorrow.

We got up to another day of packing, sorting and going to the post office to mail what we thought were just too heavy to put in the suitcases.  The books we bought for ourselves are going via ship so we won’t see them for several weeks. The other items will be at the house in about 7 days.  Wow, what a life.. We also went to the Farmers Market to replace Eleana’s gift and get it right this time. Spelt her name wrong the first time. We were not shopping for food and the temptation to purchase other items was so strong.  We enjoyed that walk and felt better once we had sent off that box of books.

I set up a date to meet Irene for coffee at 2 pm.  Denis went off to the post office again with one more package and then he met us at Arabica.  It was a lovely visit and I am so sad to be losing this new friend.  Irene is so warm and friendly and has helped me so much during our stay.  She is a Kerry girl and so proud of it.  Her sister also came along and we got to meet her as well.  I gave Irene some little gifts and she answered our final questions – things like where to put the keys to the apt, where to store the items we are leaving for the next professor etc.

We then took a walk out on the Promenade, will try to go again tomorrow but if it is raining too much at least we walked a bit there today.  Denis plans to run the distance and kick the wall tomorrow – that is running all the way to Salt Hill and there is a wall there that they say they kicked which signifies that they did it.  We walked back up Shop Street. There are so many people there this weekend shopping. Wall to wall people.  We stopped in a couple of shops and said farewell to some of the folks we have gotten to know a bit.

At 6 we are going to the Spanish Arch for dinner so will finish this when we return.  Just wanted to start now.

We went to the Spanish Arch for dinner. Fish and Chips for our last meal in Galway.  It was very good and we had a lovely dessert which was called something else but certainly tasted like “Death by Chocolate’. It was sooooo good.  We stayed an hour longer to listen to the music and talked about what we liked about our stay here.  One thing for sure was that the time we spent together in evenings was actually more like dating. We shared wonderful walks along the water, and in town and stopping to shop or to have a drink in a pub.  As we left the Spanish Arch we got hugs goodbye which was nice.  We have enjoyed listening to Feedback and are bringing back their cd.

The Irish people have been so kind and welcoming to us and it has been nice as we walked around the town having people say goodbye and wishing us well..  They remember when we were leaving and have been so good to us and helpful all the time.

Well, going to try and post some pictures of Galway I took today of some of our favorite places and sites.

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Day 113 – Two days and counting – but what a fun day today

Woke up feeling much rested this morning.  It was sunny and it felt like a day to get things done.  First on the list was going on the bus to Spiddal to the Craft Village which we both really like and there was something there I wanted to buy for the guys.  We had about an hour and a half so we both worked on some projects- I did some more packing and tried to figure out what we need to mail home that is not a gift for someone.  I may end up mailing home pjs and sandals just to make room in the suit case. OH well, we have bought so much and even with sending at least five packages home we still have so much extra.  should have been sending things home from day one but who knew right?

We got the 11:20 bus to Spiddal. It was a lovely ride along the coast and I saw people swimming in Salthill, beautiful horses along the way, and green grass every where. Ah Ireland, what a gorgeous place.  We got off in town and walked back to the Craft Village.  There are about six to seven shops open at this time of year and the coffee shop.  We went into the jewelry place first, the fellow remembered me from when Rich and Laura and I were there.  There was something I thought we should buy but Denis was not up for it. He is concerned about the packing and how we are going to get things home.

Anyway, we went to various shops and got the things plus some extras items.  The coffee shop was so crowded, the schools let out at noon for the holidays so there were teachers taking up all the tables for their farewell holiday lunch.  So we walked into the town and went into the pub. Unfortunately another schools teachers were in there. We got a table but getting lunch took quite awhile so it was not a relaxed lunch. We wanted to catch the 2:10 bus so were rushed.  It would have been a very nice lunch otherwise.  I quite enjoyed the sandwich but took much longer to get it served to me than for me to eat it.

We walked to where the bus comes and there were quite a few people waiting and more came along.  Below the bridge where it had been a slow moving rambling creek in October there was now a flooded woodland. The water was every where and fast moving.  One area looked like a fairyland with moss and creek and dead trees hanging over. It was quite lovely.

We got back and went back to the apt expecting to go on line to see the grandgirls holiday program at school. Then after all the rushing we found out that they were not live streaming it so we could not see anything.  Ian did send a picture later of Asta not singing but having a good time with her class.  She is such a little imp.

I decided the timing was perfect for me to return my bike to the rental place. So off I went walking with the bike up to the shop. It is about a mile away so it was a good healthy hike.  I remember the first time I walked up that way I got so lost. Now I knew exactly where to go so that in itself was an accomplishment.  I tried to convince them to purchase my bike helmet from me but they were not interested. I am going to try another shop tomorrow where I bought it.  If not I will offer it to them if they promise to give it to some one who needs it, or maybe they can tell me where to donate it. I got my 100 euros back from the deposit on the bike lock so that was good. Then I walked back to the apt and stopped and got myself a hot chocolate at Arabica and boy was that ever good. I think I will have to get another tomorrow. Good thing I did not know about how good they would be before this.

Frank called and wanted to verify when we wanted to go to Shannon as he is determined to drive us down there in thanks for my calling him about our issues with the program.  I love their tours and want to see them be successful.  Tomorrow I will try and find out if I can get our money back from the bus tickets. IF not we will just write it off.

I cooked dinner which was not very good.  We are winding down and using up anything I can find in the cabinets.  Tomorrow night we are going to the Spanish Arch for dinner at 6 pm since Feedback will be playing then and we enjoy their music.

Knitted and watched Tv this evening. Have not done just that in a long while.

Have a question for you all.  If I were to continue to write would anyone still read it – just leave a comment as I want to get some feedback.  What is good about this? Would people be interested if I blogged about family history or day to day life of a retired person?  This diary has been very helpful to me as I know that I have no idea what I was doing back in September since the days have been so full.  So personally I find this a good thing for me and also I have to think about writing style etc. So any comments would be welcome. Especially the new folks who just started following recently who don’t know me at all.

HEre are some pictures from today of Spiddal and the coast and of my favorite Heron who was sitting on the wall where Sheila and I first saw him/her.

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Day 111 – Cha d’dhùin doras nach d’fhosgail doras

Got up later than planned, Sarah had decided not to go to the Aran Isles which turned out to be a very good decision.  She got up and left about 10 to “breathe in” Galway on her last day of her big trip.  Smart woman.  She did not take her camera but has her phone that will help her if she sees something in this rain to photograph.

I stayed in bed until my 70 year old bones felt like getting up.  I heard that Gerald and the guy he hired were upstairs fixing the table which broke but I did not hear them leave so I assume I was sleeping again.  HA!!!;  But I knew there was work to be done so I got myself up.  Twenty or so students are coming to dinner tonight so I thought a little cleaning might be required and furniture rearranging.  So the place is vacuumed, more ice made, bathrooms cleaned etc. Packing also got some attention. Not sure where everything will go in my suitcases even with the five bags I mailed home.  But will work on it a little bit tomorrow. I have souvenir type things I want to bring home for my scrapbook so might spent 10 euro and mail them home. There are things I don’t want not to be home when I get there to take to the girls – I finally found some Irish dolls for little girls. They are soft but the outfits are kind of Irish and they can play with them and if they ruin them it won’t matter since they were not hugely expensive.  The books are going to take up weight and I want to put them into my carryon so am trying to put all clothes etc in the other bag..

Denis came home and then went out shopping for a bit more for this evening.  I am going to read for a bit and then will finish this before I go to bed.  Later guys.

Well it is now midnight. What an interesting evening. The kids came at 6 pm. and were very chatty and noisy really. Unlike the last time when they seemed to be so formal etc.  I think it is the end of the term and they are all sad about breaking up such a good group.  Denis ordered Pizza and the students brought salad, drinks, desserts etc.  It all worked out just fine. It has really been a successful time for all of them and they are nice people. We chatted about their service learning projects and some of their courses, plans for the future etc.  I would love to be able to hear about them in 10 years time to see what they are all doing. Such bright accomplished young folks.  Sarah seemed to have a good time chatting with them as well.

AFter then left Denis, SArah and I went to Tig Coili for a farewell drink, well two actually.  I think Sarah had a good time here and accomplished a lot on her wish list and learned that she wants to come back and see more. I think she would like to find a way to come here to work.  It gets to you in a very short time that this is a special place.

So tomorrow we all are getting up at 6:30 and going to see Sarah off on the bus to Shannon.  Then I will come back and go to bed and Denis will go to work. His last day, cleaning out the office and handing in his keys etc. Sad day.

Here are some pictures. One is of one of the Bog Bodies from the National Museum and then some of the party this evening.

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Day 94- Santa run and other fun

Other than packing our day really started around 11:30 when we walked out to the Promenade for the Santa Run to raise money for childrens hospital or some such cause.   Everyone in the race gets and is expected to wear their Santa Suit or they don’t get a medal when they finish the race.   We met up with three of the students – the two from Union were running and Dan from Hobart was taking pictures and cheering.  He had made two signs, ” the end is coming” and “you will prevail”. it was fun to watch the runners faces when they read this signs.  We took some pictures, before,, during and after. The best part was Denis being the only runner with a real beard so lots of “Hay Look the real santa is here” and questions about why he was not up at the NOrth Pole.  It was lots of fun.  While the others ran Dan and I chatted about the year and what he wants to do when he gets back to school. He is a very nice fellow and I have enjoyed several conversations with him during this semester.

After the run Haley and Mike had a tennis match – they are on the NUIG Tennis team when they are available to play. Mike is on the Union team at home and maybe Haley is as well. She comes from Tiverton Rhode Island where I use to work as a nanny in the summers for Phil and Larry McGourty.  We have chatted about that in the past.  Mike is from Guilderland so is a local guy.  Dan is from Geneva and goes to college in town but lives on campus.

Denis and I went for lunch at Arabica and then back here. I ran up to the drug store to pick up something and he was doing some work.  We have everything we need for Paris we hope. Boarding passes, bus tickets, ride from the airport etc.

Soon we are leaving for our first public Bohran playing. Have to admit I am a bit concerned about making a fool of myself. I am bringing my music with me. I hope to get someone to take a couple of pictures and maybe a little video so I can see what we look iike and sound like.  so will finish this when I return.

What a fun time we had this evening.  We walked over to lower Salt Hill to the Cottage Bar and found out they were changing the location on us. So Jim from our class offered Denis, Julie and I a ride to the Olso right near the water in Salt Hill. It was a great time. There ended up being 8 of us from our class there. The more experienced folks were amazing. Brian is a very good teacher it is obvious… The band was great and at times we had trouble keeping up as the speed of the reels and jigs increased. But even so it was grand fun.  I was hoping to get someone to take a picture of us playing but we did not go up as groups. we all just played together and then two of the advanced groups played something special for us all.

One of the folks gave us a ride home which was so nice. So here we are, eating a late supper, watching Inspector Lewis and thinking about having to get up at the crack of dawn to go to the airport in Dublin.  The beginning of another adventure. Am taking my laptop with me so I can write each night and up load pictures. Cannot wait…

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Day 30 – The Mayor of Seattle and the Galway Hooker

First I need to add an addendum to this posting – I think the fellow who told us the Mayor of Boston was on the boat was incorrect. The Mayor of Seattle is traveling with the Pipe band so I suspect he is the Mayor who was out on the Galway Hooker with the Mayor of Galway. Makes more sense.

What a day, they get better and better. We started the day by going to the Farmers Market. It was wonderful and we finally got the little gifts we wanted for the grandgirls. So they will get their new home gifts and we got some yummy food. We walked down Shop Street and went into the music store. We checked out the Galway made Bodhrans and will probably purchase one of them. They are good. Not all decorated like some of them but will be good to have.  We all walked down to the water and then up the river to the bridge and back home.

We came back to the apt and had some lunch and then put Joyce and Jean in a cab and bid them a fairwell. I think they had a great time, saw some things they had not expected to and all around had a change of pace for a week.

Denis, Sheila and I headed for the museum to see a free program about the Galway Hooker’s. It turned out to be the introduction of a documentary movie about how a group of men from the Claddagh got together in about 2012 and over 18 months of weekends built a brand new Hooker. They documented it on film and through interviews. It was so interesting. I bought a CD of the film because I want Ed Lowans to see it as he is into boat restoration etc.  And I found it fascinating. At the end of the film they told us that the Mayor of Boston and the Mayor of Galway were out sailing in a Galway Hooker.  We have had several great laughs about it this afternoon.

So then we decided we had time for a coffee and a bit to eat so we wandered up an alley to a little cafe and sat outside and ate.  As we were chatting Beverly from our drum class walked by and I called to her and she came over and chatted. She was telling us about Human Trafficking problems in Ireland and throughout the EU.  I later looked on line and sure enough they are bringing in girls from Eastern Europe and selling them in Ireland to pimps. They are working on strengthening the laws here against prostitution and human trafficking.

Our next stop was at Frenneys to watch the hurling championship.  We went to the back lounge area and sat with our pints and cheered for Tipperary to no avail.  The second half it was obvious Kilkenny had come out to win and they did.  Tipperary looked like they had lost their umph.

After that sad experience we walked down to the bay to see if the hooker was back but did not see it. As  we were walking along we heard drumming and found a fellow who was teaching folks to drum, not like we are learning but African drumming.  It was just like we learned this past summer at the Maclaughlan Wood Working Museum in Kingston.  Then Denis called to me to tell me about the plaque that was right by there that states that Galway and Seattle Washington are sister cities.  That explains the Seattle PD Pipe Band being in Galway this weekend.

Decided to go back to the apt for an hour before heading out again. We cleaned up and went up to St. Nicholas Church to a fund raiser for a festival to take place in Letterfrack in Conamara. It was a lovely evening of traditional music, dancing and singing.  At the end I purchased the CD of the music from out there since it is part of our every day life here so by the end of December will have relevance to us both.

After today I am not sure the days can get any better.  Tomorrow we are going to the Church of Ireland to hear a choir that is world renowned. I am sure the Pope will forgive us.

Just having a lemon tea with some local honey and a mixed berry spelt muffin that is just soooo good with butter and raspberry jam.  Denis is already asleep.  Of course he got up and ran this morning.  Sheila was able to increase her beer glass collection this evening. Do you know that the kids drink in the street with glasses from what ever pub they were in and then leave the glasses in the street or on window sills no where near a pub?  Yes, they do….

Well, after a fabulous day I will say good night.

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