When I finally got out and about in Galway, I wandered down the pedestrian streets and came across a side street where artists and crafters had booths set up. One woman was selling homemade pastries, and I indulged in a plum-rhubarb tart, the first thing I’d eaten all day and a little piece of culinary heaven. I ate and strolled, making my way to the Galway Museum. It focuses on Galway’s history, and had special exhibits on Galway’s involvement in the 1916 uprising. They also had a special exhibit of art by students at a local art school.
I see why people like Galway. It’s a cute, sea-side town with a personality. But I was there during their International Arts Festival, so it was a bit crowded for my taste. I would go back, though. The people were nice, and I bet in the off-season, it makes for even better strolls. That evening, I used the hostel computers to transfer pictures from my SD to my USB and to post albums to Facebook. Then I looked for hostels in Dublin for the last four nights of my trip. But they were considerably pricier per night because of the weekend. So I decided to do two nights in Cashel and then two in Dublin. I was annoyed to discover that, again, I couldn’t bus directly to Cashel but would have to bus through Dublin.
When we got to the coast, we boarded a ferry and crossed to Inis Oirr. I took a tour one of the islanders offers on his tractor and trailer. There’s a really interesting shipwreck on the shore. It wrecked in the ‘60s and all the sailors were rescued by the islanders. Their cargo included toilets, and they were the first flush toilets the islanders had seen, which gives you a little idea about how quaint the island is. There are also ruins of a castle and Caomhan’s church, which is below ground level in the middle of the cemetery, and is thus referred to as "the sunken church."
As I prayed, a gust of wind came through the church. There hadn’t been any wind on the island up to then, and there wasn’t any after. I probably can’t properly communicate the mystical feeling that came over me. I know that the wind was God saying He heard me. I’m not big on the mystical. I don’t go looking for it and I’m naturally suspicious of Pentecostal types, so I hope you understand that when I say that I know it was God, I know it was God. I felt better. Not cheerful, but peaceful. I wish I could have held on to that feeling forever. And when I later researched the church, learning that is it called St. Gobnait’s, named for a female saint who, because she is the patron saint of bees, is sometimes Anglicized into Deborah, the double connection seemed uncanny. (The story of Deborah is my favorite from the Bible and my name/ancestry links me with honey and beekeeping. It most certainly can be coincidence but I find it uncanny.)
My moment of serenity was short lived as I had to run to catch the ferry. On the deck, a man next to me started a conversation. He must have overheard me talking to a woman on the tour earlier because he asked, “you are a teacher?” His name was Roger and he was a Quebecois from Montreal. He was an adorably nerdy birdwatcher in his 50s. He had come specifically to see the birds. He pointed out different birds to me as he saw them, including the gannet. This, of course, made me bring up the Monty Python bookshop sketch. He had never heard of Monty Python, if you can believe it, but he seemed to appreciate the humor of the sketch when I told him about it. He also pointed out puffins; I didn’t realize they can fly. I had always thought they were a type of penguin, but I learned that they’re not. We chatted the whole way to the feet of the Cliffs of Moher and back. His daughter trained to be a teacher so we talked about education in Canada and the U.S. I asked him about the Quebec separatist movement. And we discussed travel.
When the ferry ride was over (and the ferry out on the Atlantic Ocean is very different from the ferry to Mackinaw Island, the ferry with which I am most familiar. The waters are rough and you have to hold on to the railing so you don’t get thrown overboard by the boat’s pitch and roll. I’m happy to report that I do not get sea sick.), we stopped at a restaurant for a quick bite before driving to the top of the Cliffs of Moher. Most of the day had been kind of overcast, but the sun peaked through as I reached the cliffs and I got some great pics. The Cliffs are a little nerve wracking the walk along. There’s essentially no barrier to prevent you from going over the edge. They had 8 deaths there last year. Seven of those deaths had selfie sticks in common. Tom told us that that’s the official number for accidental deaths. Because Ireland is Catholic, they don’t release numbers for suicides, but they happen there. For those who don’t know, the Cliffs of Moher are where they filmed the Cliffs of Insanity in The Princess Bride. They really are breathtakingly beautiful and frighteningly high.
On the bus ride back, I was delightfully tired. I listened as Tom regaled us with more stories and advised on things to do back in Galway. As I gazed out the window at the lush green of Irish countryside, I considered inviting him to dinner, but when he started recommending restaurants, he mentioned one that he takes his wife to. Ah, well. As an introvert I wasn’t too terribly disappointed to eat dinner alone.