Monday, June 04, 2007

Day 10, "Ireland" seminar trip

[These are the daily posts located at Google Maps. Posting one-a-day in the aftermath.]

[Morning entry:

Our first wet day: overcast, with spells of light rain (what the Irish call a “soft” day—meaning the rain is misty rather than lashing). This is another free day, mostly intended for exploring and to cater to those who are shoppers. This morning’s breakfast was Dr Smith’s “experimental” pancakes, so-called because made with self-rising flour (the baking powder already combined within the flour). But, with some borrowed Sleepzone orange juice, the last of our eggs, and some improvisation, acceptable pancakes ensued—or at least that was the evidence of their having been devoured. That, and sausage-and-potato hash, made a suitably stick-to-the-ribs breakfast. And the pancakes did provide a delivery medium for two European inventions that were new to most of our trippers: Nutella, a peanut-butter-like spread made with chocolate and hazelnut, and completely addictive to a chocoholic; and Lyle’s Golden Syrup, a classic Irish sweet, packaged in an ornate tin canister, and of which there is a lyrical description in CiarĂ¡n Carson’s Last Night’s Fun, which we read during the course of our seminar. It was an instant hit, and several trippers inquired regarding the whereabouts of the stores where Lyle’s could be bought. So, friends and families, there may be an imported Irish treat in your near future!

Later on, we’re off to the (new, excellent, and free) Galway museum.

All continue well, in good spirits but (I think) glad of a slow day to read, curl up with a book or the free Internet connection, sleep, and otherwise recharge the batteries before we depart for Clairinbridge, Paddy Burke’s famous seafood bar, and Ennis on Thursday. Will write more again later.


As predicted, a slow/quiet/rest day: opportunity to catch up on sleep, reading, and Internet messaging. After breakfast, several took advantage of the optional walking trip down to the Galway Museum, an excellent, new (and free!) museum detailing the city’s history, folklore, and folkways. One centerpiece of the museum is a 26-foot-long Galway hooker suspended in the atrium. The hooker, a rib-and-plank-built, wide-bellied, lateen-rigged sailing boat, was the principle working boat of Galway Bay and the Aran Islands, used to haul sheep, turf, and other goods to the islands, and bring back fish and seaweed to the mainland. The last working hooker sailed out of Galway in the 1960s, but the museum commissioned builders X and Y to build this boat specifically for the museum, naming it the Martin Oliver over the last king of the Claddagh, the free village on the south shore of the Corrib which housed fishermen, musicians, sailors, and other ne’er-do-wells.

And, some additional very welcome news: old friend and banjo-maker Tom Cussen will in fact be in residence at his Clairinbridge workshop and store, so we can have the visit and tour which is an annual fixture of the tour, before the much-anticipated visit to Paddy Burke’s bar, also in Clarinbridge, and widely acclaimed as one of the best seafood restaurants in Ireland—and a lunch that the trip will pay for (Dr Smith dictum, derived from years as a working musician: “It Tastes Better If It’s Free.”). After said better-‘cause-it’s-free lunch, we’ll wheel our way in a leisurely fashion down through Ennis to Newmarket-on-Fergus, about halfway between Ennis and Shannon, where our students will be housed in B&B luxury for the three nights of the Fleadh Nua.

Even more welcome news: our new friend, stalwart bus driver Marty, is laid on to drive us on behalf of Corduff Travel for our two “coach days” in Ennis, visiting Dysert O’Dea and the Cragganowen Historical Park.

Bus rolls at 10am.

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