Thursday October 27, 2011
Saturday, October 29, 2011
Adventure in Ireland - 2 days on a small island
Thursday October 27, 2011
We took a bus from Galway to Limerick, where Edward Horgan met us and drove us to the college, where we had lunch with John Lannon, both of ShannonWatch. They keep data about use of Shannon airport to carry troops and supplies to war as well as rendition for possible torture.
We found out during lunch that Edward wanted us to come and stay with him on an island, to which we said “Yes, we love an adventure!” And what an adventure it was! We drove past Shannon airport and took pictures of U.S. military planes involved with transporting people to war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
We were rushed, though, because Edward said we had a date with a boat to get to the island. I thought he meant a ferry boat. We drove very fast on narrow, winding roads, passing everyone along the way, and somewhere during the end of the drive I figured out that the boat we were catching was Edward’s! We stopped in town for some groceries and proceeded to a very small launch point where we loaded up only the bare necessities into the boat almost an hour after the sun had set. It was getting darker by the minute. No wonder he drove so fast and hurried through the grocery store. He gave us waterproof, windproof suits to wear, which was good because of the saltwater blowing up around the boat as we went, and the wind. Our minimal gear was put in waterproof barrels and a dry bag, and off we went. The waves were rough at times and both Gerry and I had to move our bodies back toward the center of the boat to help stabilize it. Out the bay and into the ocean we went, soon spotting a dim light in the distance. Finally we arrived at the island dock.
Edward announced that this dock was the start of the main island road – pretty unbelievable, but of course there are no cars so it’s a footpath. We followed him carefully in the dark up the road about ¼ mile and past a couple of his neighbor’s houses to his house. He took a 4-wheel-drive bucket / cart back down for the rest of our gear while we lit a fire.
There’s electricity in the house, a fairly recent concession on the island, and the water is from the rain draining off of the roof, collected in two huge tanks and filtered 3 times before coming into the house. We filter it one more time in Britta-like filters if we’re going to drink it. It’s really clean, and Edward says just a little bit salty, although I can’t tell.
Friday October 28, 2011 Turbot Island, Ireland
After a lovely breakfast we took a walk around the island. It’s windy today, so we won’t be taking the boat back to the mainland for our main backpacks. No matter – we aren’t suffering in the least. Edward has warm clothes we can borrow, so the walk wasn’t too cold for us. The house was pretty simple and smaller when he and his wife bought it 25 years ago. The walls were thick solid concrete and he built another wall outside of the existing one that’s insulated and put in new double-pane windows and doors. We saw a couple of examples of how his house originally looked.
You can see the mainland from here as well as some other islands. It’s low tide, making it easier to walk around the end of fences that keep the cows mostly where people want them. People gather the rocks to make walls, and the rock-free places are good for gardens. Because of the wind, you have to build a rock wall around the garden. There had been more soil on the island – now there is a lot of bare rock. That situation was caused by irresponsible use of the turf for fires in people’s homes. Edward burns driftwood exclusively.
We saw what looked like crab pots but are really used for lobster. People do sell the crab as well and are supposed to throw the small ones back in the sea but sometimes just leave them on the shore to die. We saw quite a few crab shells near the lobster pots.
We saw lots of cows. The wind was surprisingly warm, so by the end of the walk I had my gloves off and my jacket partly open.
It was nice to be without internet and phone service for a couple of days and we're back safely on the mainland with the wonderful cooperative household that hosted us last week.