Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wed 14th- The Sky Road

We awoke to a heatwave(Irish for not raining) the next morning, it was a brilliant calm, sunny, blue sky day. Refreshed and rearing to go, we made our way downstairs to the breakfast room .........where disaster had struck overnight. A pipe somewhere between the two floors had burst and there was a mini waterfall to greet us. The water was tracking across the ceiling and down the central light fitting and plopping into strategically placed buckets. Very soon it was trickling out a power socket on one of the walls and the lights began to dim and flicker! Ruth placed us in the corner by the front window and we quickly had our breakfast looking sideways at the growing trickle.

Luckily we were the only guests, Ruth would have had a major problem on her hands had all six rooms been full. We felt a bit awkward sitting there like nothing was happening, David wanted to help as Ruth’s husband was away and she was unsure where to turn the water off, she also had a 3 year old daughter running about! Ruth said she'd called a plumber and he was due soon but David insisted on helping her find the tap. As it turned out the plumber didn’t arrive until later in the morning and by then Ruth had made the decision to turn it off (even though she was not convinced it was the right tap!) We came home later in the day to no hot water, in fact no water at all, the floor in the next room pulled up and the swearing and cursing of a frustrated plumber! And no shower before leaving for dinner!

After a lovely breakfast (Ulster Fry again) and probably the best one on our trip we headed off to drive the famous “Sky Road”. The 11km circular route takes you out on a narrow winding road high up on the cliffs with breathtaking views of Clifden Bay, the isolated islands of Inishturk & Turbot, small fishing villages and some beautiful and rugged coastline. Even though it’s only an 11km drive, it’s like the rest of Ireland, it always feels twice as long to drive it. The tiny red flowering fuchsia makes a pretty hedge along a lot of the roads in the area.

Just down the road from the B&B we get our first glimpse of Clifden Bay and the salmon farms. We’ve had salmon twice already since we’ve arrived; it has to be Connemara Salmon(and it goes really well with the crumbly soda bread!). Connemara is the district we’re in, Clifden being the “capital” of Connemara. Most of this area located in County Galway is known as the Connemara National Park and has the Twelve Bens, a mountain range with, surprise, surprise, 12 peaks as it’s backdrop. It’s all very wild, rugged and beautiful. Back to the salmon; this sea farmed fish is a lot tastier than our NZ farmed salmon and seems to be a lot deeper salmon coloured too. Maybe it’s the cold Atlantic ocean that helps in Ireland and the salt water(although our Marlborough salmon are bred in salt water), whatever it is I liked it a lot!

Clifden Bay Salmon Farms

Further along the road we stopped at the summit and lookout area to check out the amazing views.

Lighthouse at the entrance to Clifden Bay

Someone with a sense of humour has added their handy work to a “road narrows” sign.

We then dropped down to sea level and wound our way back inland around a tidal inlet with a mass of rusty coloured beaded seaweed strung out over the exposed seabed.

It was here that we came across our first turf stacks. Dried peat bricks that are used for fuel, farmers and their families cut and dry their own turf from the large peat bogs in the area. Here in the West, there are plenty of stacks of peat, lots of blue smoke from chimneys, and the sweet smell of slow, even-burning turf fires. This turf stack looked like it belonged to the community, it was huge and these two children who were helping their dad load a trailer, came running to see me, firing questions at me left, right and centre. Unfortunately I could hardly understand their accents so I was unsure of what they were asking most of the time. I did manage to get their names though, Liam and Siobhan; very Irish and very cute!

This stack was further down the road, the “bricks” were surprisingly dry and light although very dense. They reminded me of horse dung that had been shaped into rectangles. Obviously they didn’t have the smell of horse poop though! And then a loaded trailer waiting to be shifted at the end of the road. Now all I had to see was how the turf was harvested from the bog…..

Here's a map of the route we have taken since arriving in Shannon two days ago, notice the "slight" detour to Gort! :)  Use the "Zoom in/ Zoom out" in the top left of the map to getter a better idea of the area we are in.

View Shannon, Doolin, Galway, Clifden in a larger map

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