Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Wed 14th- Roundtree Village

After the Sky Road we headed back through Clifden and out on another circular route, the "Bog Road". The plan was to stop for lunch at another famous seafood pub, O'Dowd's, in the small fishing village of Roundstone and also visit the Music & Craft Shop, home of the bodhran (Irish Drum) whose famous customers include Riverdance.

Clifden harbour

As we left Clifden we had the chance to see the town's very small harbour. The scenery then abruptly changed as we followed another very tiny narrow roller-coaster road around the coastline. Everywhere you looked were rocks of all shapes and sizes with houses dotted in and around them, a lot of them camouflaged as they were built out of the same rock. I think it would be subsistent or lifestyle living as you wouldn’t be able to farm or grow much in amongst the rocks. Maybe they are mostly fishermen.

Roundstone was a lot smaller (and quieter) than I had imagined but a very pretty little village with lots of colourful houses and boats to match. Down on the harbour edge we came across a guy painting. I would have quite happily purchased his finished canvas but I suspect that it would have been quite expensive as he was tutoring two ladies whose artwork wasn’t nearly as lovely as this.

We followed the signs for the Music shop down to another part of the harbour where there were more painters set up. So many subjects and scenery opportunities it would be hard to choose what to do.

The music shop wasn’t quite what I expected, it looked like an old school room but I have it on good authority it’s an old Franciscan Monastery!

I was expecting something along the lines of this Traditional Music shop in Doolin

Once inside though it was an Aladdin’s cave! Too late I saw that you weren’t to take photos (why they don’t make those signs bigger I don’t know ;) Around all the walls were hundreds of drums of different sizes with so large a variety of Celtic designs and family crests. Behind a glass screen in the workshop “the master” was making his drums. The Irish word “Bodhar” means deaf or haunting, the drum is made using goatskin stretched over a birch frame. It’s played with a “tipper” or beater hitting the skin in a racing style while the hand presses the back of the skin to vary the tone.

We then headed to O’Dowd’s for lunch, where we had chowder again! O’Dowd’s is a very tiny, tiny pub located above the harbour with about half a dozen small tables and a couple of snugs to eat at. Luckily there were only another couple of diners and a few people drinking at the bar.

We met an elderly American couple who had been coming to Roundstone to stay every October for the last 20 plus years! I wouldn’t have said it was that interesting you’d run out of places to visit in the immediate area after but they obviously enjoyed the atmosphere and surroundings. The wife left to visit a craft shop and I left David chatting to the husband about the world’s problems while I went for a walk out in the sunshine. Across the road leaning on the rock wall with a Guinness in one hand and a fag in the other I came across this character.

He was quick to engage me in conversation, a happy chap who asked where I was from. On learning it was New Zealand he quickly told me to take a photo of a good Irish fellow with a Guinness to show my friends back home and to tell them he could speak Gaelic too! He managed to tell me his life story in 5 minutes flat, his wife’s family was from the area(that’s his wife’s drink resting on the wall) They had caught a bus from Galway using up the secret €100 he had hidden in his shoe after being mugged in London two nights prior, “I was just resting on a bench” Yeah right. They were now drowning their sorrows…..probably with the €100 that was stashed in his other shoe!

By now the smattering of cloud had lifted revealing the beautiful backdrop of the Twelve Bens mountin range.

Back on the road we continued on around the coastline stopping to take another photo across the inland bogs of the mountain range.

This isolated small lake had little stone piers jutting out into it every few feet, maybe for trout fishermen?

Across the road there was an overgrown graveyard with broken headstones and these Celtic High Crosses with the traditional circles. Covered with bracken, the graves were dotted all around and stretched up and over the hills beyond. Sheep wandered about grazing on the available grass. Set under an overhang of rock was a lovingly looked after statue of Jesus.

Another small loch we came upon just before we made it back onto the “main” road and headed back to Clifden.

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