So here's a quck wrap-up ...
Wednesday - I finished up at the internet cafe and dragged myself to McDermot's. It turned out to be a great night. The band that was playing was amazing, and we had a table close to the musicians. It was the first time this week that the musicians weren't just playing background sounds.
Thursday - Most of us headed to the Aran Islands. Rented bikes, and rode up to Dún Aonghasa, a bronze age fort on the cliffs of Inishmore.
Friday - We had planned to do more hiking, but it rained all day. Drove to Lahinch to watch the surfers, but it was cold and windy and messy, & I wasn't the least bit tempted to join them. Then it was up to Inistymon, a market town, to get fish for dinner. We got smoked haddock, pickled herring, mussels, and shrimp. I thought that was enough to cook with, but Dad supplemented it with pounds of rib eye. We were full enough that night! That night I skipped the pubs. It was the same deal - I would have joined them all for a pint, but wasn't up for a whole night. We stopped by Poulnabrone , a pre-Celtic portal tomb, on the way back. It was cool, but much, much smaller than I had thought from all the pictures.
Saturday - We packed up and moved to Enis for our last night. Stopped at Dysert O'Dea en route, an archaeological site with a restored round house, a ruined 8th century church founded by St. Tola, and a beautiful 12th Century high stone cross. Enis was a nice change, for me - a real village with it's medival core intact, and full of micks instead of tourists. Jeff and I got scolded by one old lady for not being active in partisan politics back home, and she ordered Jeff to join up with Irish Northern Aid.
So. Ireland. I'm still not sure what to think of it all. It was different travelling with a large group. A lot of our interactions were tourist:local instead of person to person. People were cool, but I noticed a certain gap. I'm not sure if everyone saw it. Maybe, living in a tourist area, I'm more aware of it.
Professionally, they're miles ahead of us. Our town planning and local architecture sucks ass compared to theirs. It's an embarassment. In other areas we're doing alright. Ireland is still, with all their money, still a conservative farming society. People were nice, but always a bit formal. It was nice to get back to the west coast and see people laughing and joking. You could feel the difference even at the airport - things were just a bit more casual and relaxed.
And now it's time to look forwards ... 'cause look who's coming our way: