Wednesday, June 12 – Wool, Wind, and Waves

Once again, up early with room service breakfast. Today we are meeting up with a group that I had been corresponding with for over a year regarding shore excursions for these ports. We toured with them on the WOW Scotland tour but haven’t been on a tour with them since, but have spoken with them in the Ocean Bar a few times. We are joining them for the next 3 tours.

Today we docked at Killybegs, a natural deep-water harbor, and home to all the largest Irish midwater trawlers, and a modest whitefish fleet. But it handles all shipping activities including cruise ships. In recent years Killybegs has become the favored port for the importation of wind turbines and is a service port for the offshore gas/oil drilling rigs.

Everyone arrived on time at the Ocean Bar and we left the ship as soon as the announcement said we could. Our driver/guide “Red” met us at the gate and we loaded up into his van. I was on the back seat in the middle. Chuck was in the middle row in the middle. It was a bouncy ride.

We would be traveling quite a bit today on the Wild Atlantic Way. It is 1600 miles long and is one of the longest defined coastal routes in the world. It winds its way all along the Irish west coast. There was a lot of nice scenery but sitting in the middle didn’t allow for many photos.

Our first stop was the Slieve League cliffs. You could consider these cliffs the less popular brother to the Cliffs of Mohr even though these cliffs reach almost three times higher. I guess they just need a better publicist.

I thought the scenery was gorgeous. The wind was fierce, almost making me fall down once and bobbled my camera. I was glad I was using my waterproof/shockproof one. We got there before any other people that morning so it was nice to have all the unobstructed views. I was surprised at the number of sheep roaming around on the cliffs but Red said they are allowed to help keep the grass mowed. They are rarely shorn so they can stay warm on the cliffs.

Eventually a truck pulled up that had a trailer with a sign that said wool sweaters, scarves, and hats for sale. I suspect they do a good business because the sunshine was deceptive. It looked warm but once you got into the wind, you were soon very cold. The other wagon that would soon be manned was a “Lobster Roll and Hot Dog” food trailer. I thought it was a funny combination. Once other tour vans started arriving, we were ready to move on.

As we were driving back down, we noticed a large sign made of rocks on the side of one of the mountains. He said it was a WWII marker that directed the allied fighter planes in the right direction. He said there are only a few left in Ireland.

From there, we drove to the Folk Village of Glencolmcille. Took about an hour to get there. I’m glad I had taken a Bonine that morning as it was again bouncy in the back seat.

The Folk Village Museum is a cluster of several small cottages, called a ‘clachan’, on a hillside overlooking Glen Bay Beach. Red said it was designed, built and maintained by the local people. Each cottage is an exact replica of a dwelling used by the local people in each of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries and had furniture, artifacts and utensils of its particular period. There was also a reconstructed school house, fisherman’s house and tiny pub-grocer. I thought it was interesting that the primary language of this area is Gaelic, not English.

Our guide who took us through the cottages was a young woman who had a very thick Gaelic accent but she was very enthusiastic. She explained the differences between each of the cottages and how the people would have lived. She also talked a lot about Father McDyer and there was even a video about him running in the school house.  He is credited with dreaming up the Folk Village to try and increase tourism to the area and keep the local people employed. Though we didn’t buy any souvenirs, we bought some hot chocolate so we contributed some to their economy.

After touring the Village, we drove to the town of Donegal where we had an opportunity to eat lunch or shop. Six of us opted for lunch while one couple had brought sandwiches so they were going to shop and take more pictures. Chuck and I again chose the fish chowder and it was excellent as was the brown bread.

After lunch, we did have time for a photo op of the Donegal parish Church of Ireland and its old cemetery. I just can’t get over that multiple members of a family (up to 3) could be buried in the same plot – one on top of the other. They don’t practice that stacking anymore.

Since our time at this port had been cut short by one hour, we only had time for one more photo stop at a beach of Fintrah Bay. Red talked about how the tide in the area would go out so far that you could walk across the sand to the little island but you better know when the tide was going to rise or you’d be stuck over there until the next day. I could only see one small building on the island. There were several people walking with their dogs on the beach (on this side) but again, the wind was very strong.

We got back to the ship at 4:15. I am not used to cutting the time so close to “all aboard” but none of the others in the group seem to mind.

The Captain makes his official announcements at noon and at sail-away or 6:00, whichever comes first. As you can’t hear them in the stateroom (unless it is an emergency announcement), I have to open the door to the cabin to hear. He came on about 4:40 and I opened the door in time to hear him discussing the route to Foynes and reminding us that it will be a tender port. He also mentioned that the waves and wind would be the strongest we had experienced and to be cautious moving around tonight. Okay. We had gotten through the North Sea with little problem, would the Atlantic really be worse?

We were allowed to pick up our passports at 5:00 so we presented our receipt and got those back. Took them back to the safe. I was glad there was no issue.

As we headed to the Ocean Bar, which was one floor down from us, I noticed that the sea sickness bags had been hung on the rails of the stairway. Uh oh. Not a good sign at all. I think the Captain has underplayed the significance of what we were going to experience.

We met one of the couples from the tour in the Ocean Bar and they joined us for trivia. We did much better than last night but we didn’t win. They were going to the main dining room for dinner but we decided to go to the Lido. Just as we were leaving, the ship rolled and I heard glass breaking in the bar area. Another bad sign.

The Lido was deserted. Prime dinner time and there was no line at all. I don’t know how many times different waiters were asking if we needed water or anything. I think they were bored with so few customers.

We also heard that the entertainment tonight – a production by the ship’s dancers was cancelled and a singer was going to perform instead. I think people had decided their cabin was the place to hang out.

I love my Bonine. We each ate a steak dinner in the Lido and I was able to eat it and watch the waves outside without beating a hasty retreat to the cabin bathroom.

We decided to skip the singer as the front of the ship is always the rockiest. The waves didn’t bother the Casino so Chuck headed there and I came back to the cabin to work on photographs. I found that the cabin stewards had secured the glassware in the cabin so it wouldn’t break. Another not good sign but I appreciated it because nobody wants to cut their foot on broken glass trying to get to the bathroom.

Tonight’s towel animal is a bear. He has his arms folded like a gangsta. Should have some shades.

View from the Lido

Author: mmmtravelmemories

A retired college administrator who loves to travel. I write to remember the experiences and, I hope, to inspire others to make their own travel memories.

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