August 2007

On the Road to Westport
County Clare & County Galway

The next day we drove up to Westport. Below is the car that we spent most of our time in... along with Craig who did all the driving! Craig got the hang of driving on the left side quickly. We were worried about the roundabouts... there are very few stoplights in Ireland. Most of the intersections use roundabouts instead. But we found that we LOVE the roundabouts... much more time efficient than regular ol' stoplights. The only thing we never did quite embrace is how SKINNY some of the roads are (especially when you meet those big fat tour buses coming the other way)!

Me not littering.

Craig standing on one of the thousands of stone walls that cover the country of Ireland.

I found the walls so fascinating. The Irish express themselves in their stone walls. There isn't a huge variety of architectural styles in the Irish housing... they tend to stick with a few standards that they've been using for centuries. But the stone walls are an endless assortment of designs. Many are densely packed, each stone painstakingly fitted together, while others are piled together so loosely that you can see sunlight around every stone. The stones are placed horizontally on most but we encountered a few built by rebel artisans who stacked stones vertically. Some have jagged edged stones lined up vertically along the top or single squared off stones standing upright at regular intervals. Every single wall was unique in some way.

The roads are often very skinny. This is actually a very WIDE (extravagantly wide in fact) road in Ireland. Shoulders are an occasional luxury. The greenery grows right up to the sides of the road and is cut back with chainsaws at straight perpendicular angles to the road. So you are often driving through a square tunnel with greenery on the sides, road below and dramatic Irish sky above. Almost every single road that we saw was framed by stone walls on either side (they are hidden in the bushes here). The Irish don't seem to tear anything down (a good trait in my opinion) and so the width of the roads simply depends upon the amount of space between the ancient walls. Even main highways will often shrink down to the width of a car in some places.

A beautiful lake and island along the side of the road to Westport...

A traffic jam in Ireland. The sheep farmers brand their sheep by spraypainting different letters and colors onto their backs.

The Partry Mountains, County Galway - Joyce's Country

Along the road to Westport...

We stopped in Galway for lunch and to find an internet cafe for my daily email check. For some strange reason, we kept seeing naked mannequins in shop windows... not sure if there was some significance or purely a coincidental aligning of window display changes. Here's a pic of me and a nudist mannequin quartet.

Westport, Ireland

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On the Road to Westport
County Clare & County Galway
"The Quiet Man" Village
Cong & Ashford Castle
Croagh Patrick
Climbing the Mountain in County Mayo
Grace O'Malley's Castle
Rockfleet & the Road to Dooagh on Achill Island
Mizen Head
The Southernmost Point of Irelend
Dingle Peninsula
The Celtic Sea, Beehive Huts & Galorus Oratory in County Kerry
Co. Kerry & Co. Clare
Shannon Ferry, an Irish Cemetery, Lahinch & the Cliffs of Moher
Mooghaun Ringfort
Magic in County Clare
Online Resources About Ireland
Cliffs of Moher
Computer Desktop Wallpaper