Tuesday, December 18, 2007

as mo dhialann Gaeilge--15 Lúnasa, 2007


A dhialainn, a chara...

tá agallamh ag teastáil ó Raidió na Gaeltachta agus ní fheadar an inniu atá sé nó amárach. nó an Aoine. ach pé scéal é, caithfidh mé a rá go mbraithim mar pháiste óg ó thaobh na Gaeilge de, tar éis an líofacht chomh láidir atá le cloisint sa cheantar so agus ar an gcúrsa seo.

muinín, a Mharcais, muinín. bíodh muinín agat.


do chuas go dtí Dún an Óir—níl mórán le feiscint ach amháin an radharc (atá ana-dheas ar fad!) agus tá “leac cuimhne” (???) ann leis. is cosúil gurbh insan séú aois déag rinneadh ár uafásach ar slua mór saighdiúirí ag airm Cromwell. Gearradh na cinn den gach duine acu, is dóigh.

Bhí madra ann ar mo bhealach go dtí na háite, agus chonacthas domsa go raibh sé ag iarraidh greim bia a dhéanamh de mo chois! faoi dhó a rith sé chugam—ar an mbealach sall agus an bealach anall. (ó scríobhadh an píosa seo, rith sé liom gurbh ag smaoineamh gur caora mé a bhí sé, agus bhí sé ag iarraidh mé a bhuachailleacht!)

cad eile—ó sea, amárach—bhuel ar dtús caithfidh mé insint duit, a dhialainn, gur bhuaileas le Maidhc Ó Cealaigh, an fear a mbuaileas leis ar an idirlíon roimhe seo! B'ionadh mór é sin, gan dabht! Mar sin, amárach, tar éis an sois, beidh agallamh á dhéanamh orm agus ar Mhaidhc, agus beirt eile. ag an stáisiún raidió de chuid R na G.


Monday, December 17, 2007

15 Lúnasa, 2007--an tríú lá den chúrsa

Ok, what happened today? I was feeling pretty inept as far as my Irish was concerned. I was finding out how NOT fluent i was, especially after talking to some of the locals. Of course they had really thick accents so i guess i should give myself the benefit of the doubt there.

Classes as usual. I found out it was the following day that the interview would be done on Radió na Gaeltachta in Baile na nGall (Ballydavid.) That was nerve wracking, but it was nice to find out that another guy, Mike Kelly, whom i had been speaking Irish with online for some time, and who lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, was also going to be undergoing the grilling. He saw my name on the whiteboard in the assembly room, recognized my name and went a'looking for me. It was nice to meet him face to face! He's an amazing old fellow, in his 70's but still traveling and kayaking and all that.

I also went over to a “ruin” or whatever you want to call it, called “Dún an Óir,” The Fort of Gold, i suppose in English. there's really not much there—it's more of a memorial or monument to the lives lost when Cromwell's men attacked a group of Irish, Spanish and Italian forces who were holed up there in the 17th century, i believe. After surrendering, all but the Italian commander were slaughtered. Here's a picture of the monument that stands at the parking area.

I remember that on the way, a sheepdog tried to herd me. at first i thought it was trying to make a meal of me. I realized my mistake later. Also on the way i saw a brilliant rainbow. Tried to get a picture of it but it's pretty hard to do—they tend to go away.

I also saw this old chapel on the way to Dún an Óir—Dún Úrlann. A 15th century structure that was unearthed in about 1991. a lot of the architectural elements were to be found there, like the stones carved as rain gutters, a nice window sill carved from rock, and the holy water font, also stone-carved.
that's about it. i think we can all assume that i ended the night with Guinness. Let's just leave it at that.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

More to Come

I've been busy with the holidays, a side job translating Irish for a software company, teaching and other things, but I haven't forgotten about this here blog.

A new post is in the works! I have to get on it or i'll forget the whole trip. Ah--ain't old-age great?

Friday, October 19, 2007

As mo dhialann Gaeilge--14 Lúnasa, 2007

Right, so táim i gCaife na Cille ag ól cupán caife agus bhí Tomás Ó M. i m'aice le haghaidh an dinnéir. Níl mórán le rá agam inniu. fuaireas síob go dtí an Daingean chun airgid a fháil, agus stampaí...chuireas cúpla carta poist sa bosca agus sin a bhfuil. ach amháin gur usáideas ríomhaire ag an caife idirlíon.

anois a sé a chloig. níl faic le déanamh agam go dtí go bhfuil a hocht ann.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

14 Lúnasa, 2007—an dara lá den chúrsa

Well, today I went to my first session of this trip, but i'll tell of that later....

I wish I could remember what we studied in class or what have you, maybe i can go look through my notes and figure that out. But for now let's just say that day 2 of the course was a lot like day 1, only less unfamiliar. I did forget to mention the activities that were planned for the evenings--the reason we had a “break” from half three to eight is because it wouldn't be a break without something required to do on either side of it! At eight each evening there were various activities planned—lectures, trivia games, performances, that sort of thing. On the first day of the course, i forgot to mention, there was a trivia game called “Tráth na gCeist” in Irish, meaning “The Question Period.” It was sort of a contest to see who knew the most about various pop culture things, only most of the references were to Irish TV and politicians and sports figures and such, so i was at a distinct disadvantage. I wish I could remember what the activity was the second night. I believe it was a lecture by a man named Ferriter from the area, obviously, who introduced us to some of the features of the peninsula using stories and maps and the like. It was all done in Irish as well, as was everything having to do with the course at all.

The notable events of the day—hmmm, let's see—I got a ride with Fergal into town to get some more cash. (where did i spend what i had before???) and i put a couple postcards in the mail. I may have mentioned that the Ballyferriter Oifig an Phoist was closed due to the death of the poor postman! Small town excitement. I used the computer at the internet café as well.

I was approached by Máire Uí Shíthigh at some point during the day about whether or not i would mind being interviewed on the local radio station. She said that Raidió na Gaeltachta usually did this sort of thing when the course was runing, and were especially interested in speaking to people who are living in other countries and learning Irish. The program is called “An saol ó Dheas” (life in the south.) I said yes, naturally.

I finally managed to spend a little time with my friend Tom Moriarty, who lives in the next town over from me here in America, and who is a retired professor of history. I was surprised that it took me a couple days to track him down in such a small town! But i ran into him in a place called Caife na Cille, which in my opinion had the best food in Ballyferriter and the cheapest to boot. Nice wraps and salads and tasty tasty good stuff. And good coffee as well. I highly recommend the place if you find yourself in Ballyferriter.

Tom and i had dinner and then he went off to take a nap before the evening's events. I wrote in my journal and was generally bored. I don't think i did more than ride back to the B+B to hang out, maybe i didn't. But after the lecture at 8 we all went to Tigh Ó Murchú for a session. It was an open session, but the guests of honor were “Na Fraincigh”--a group of French musicians who go to Ballyferriter annually and play for a couple of nights at Murphy's pub there in the village. They were great. Some people who were taking the course got up and sang songs as well. I like that in Ireland it's ok to just get up and tell a story or sing a song if you want to. Seems that's what pubs are for. The craic, they call it. No it's not a drug. Craic means fun. Simple as that.

This is the group "an Francaigh" playing at th pub, along with other local musicians. It was beyond loud in there!

This is the same pub. I thought i'd be funny and take video of my friends on the down-low. brilliant stuff, really. move over, Geraldo.

I didn't write much in my diary today, and I only took about 4 pictures and as many videos. I must have been too busy! I did see these cute old ladies dancing together as the band played a waltz.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

As mo dhialann Ghaeilge--13 Lúnasa, 2007

ócé so bhíos ar tí ruda a scríobh ach tháinig cúpla seanbhean chugam chun cainte a dhéanamh liom. sin ag leathuair tar éis a seacht. anois tá leathuair tar éis meán oíche ann agus mé tar éis teacht abhaile ón pub. bhíos i dteannta Feargal as Corcaigh thiar é, agus Sinéad, agus Tomás (Ó Muirtheartaigh) agus duine eile a ndéarna mé dearúd ar a ainm.

bhí an-lá againn insna ranganna. ar dtús bhíos i rang a raibh bean darbh ainm Bríd i gceannas air ach d'aistrios go dtí ranga níos airde níos déanaí ar maidin. bhí an rang nua sin...em..ceart go leor. ní raibh mórán comhrá déanta againn. táim ag smaoineamh ar athrú eile a dhéanamh—dul thar n-ais go dtí an chéad rang, b'fhéidir...

in a dhiaidh sin bhí am lóin again, agus i ndiaidh an lóin bhí léacht le Phádraig Fitréar mar gheall ar an cheantar seo—Corca Dhuibhne—agus i ndiaidh sin, sos fada ó leath a trí go dtí a hocht. bhí dinnéar agam le Robeard agus Máirtín agus Liam. Ansin—Tráth na gCeist.

níor bhuamar aon dúiseanna.

is cuma.

réitigh cúpla piúnt sa phub an fadhb sin.

ó-rinne mé dearúd ar mo thuras go Trá an Fhíonna—Trá is ea é atá ana-ghar do Thigh bhric, agus bhí a lán daoine ann. Tá a lán grianghraifeanna glactha agam den áit, agus tá cloch ógham ann chomh maith.

Sa phub, bhí an-chomhrá againn.

sin é faoi láthair.

13 Lúnasa, 2007--an chéad lá den cúrsa agus Trá an Fhíonna

The first day of the course. I met Áine, who was staying in the room next to mine, in the dining room for breakfast. (that's her on the right in the photo, me on the left.) We sat together every day for breakfast, speaking Irish and eating our meals. She was very kind and offered me a ride almost every time. Even after i told her i had rented a bike she always asked when it was looking like rain! Very nice person.

Off on my bike with me after breakfast to the first class, or the first meeting or what have you which was held in the primary school in Ballyferriter. That's a strange building! But we got the general idea of what to expect from the week and we got our class assignments and were told how to find our classrooms. The classes were spread out all over the village, which isn't big. It was no more than a 2 minute walk to even the most remote class. Mine at first was in one of the boarding houses—a small room at the front of the house. Bríd Úna was my teacher. I liked her—she was a fast talker, very animated and it seemed like the class was going to be fun. She asked us at one point to say a few words about what we hoped to get from the course. When it was my turn i said something like “to push the limits of my fluency by engaging in conversation with people who are a bit more fluent than myself!” right. I think that’s pretty much what everyone wanted, i just put it in those really blunt terms. I mean, you don't learn much from people who are LESS fluent than yourself, so the remedy is obvious.

At lunchtime i was approached by the indefatigable Máire Uí Shíthigh, the queen bee of the program. She's the one who organized the whole affair. I'm sure she had lots of help, but frankly, without her it wouldn't have been nearly as good. Anyway she said she'd like to put me in a class one level higher because Bríd Úna mentioned to her what i said and she thought i'd benefit from going up a level. Wow. They really have it all together, these people from an Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne! They were really listening to what the students were saying, apparently! So i moved up to the next level for the afternoon and proceeded to flounder for the rest of the day. It was Tough! Very hard. The first day is always hard but i just sealed it by being a loudmouth!

The one thing that worried me was that there wasn't much conversation in that first class. My teacher's name was Róisín Ní Gairbhí, and she was super smart. I kept thinking how small her head was to hold all that knowledge! She had poems, songs, idioms coming out of her ears. So much wonderful knowledge. So in the end, actually, well before the end, i was enjoying the class immensely because her teaching style suited me quite well.

So my head was reeling by dinner time. But i had made a few friends—Fergal, Sinéad, and a couple people whose names I've forgotten, though i mention Máirtín in my diary. I forget who he was though. Anyway i think we went down to the pub at the hotel later on—Óstán an Bhuailtín i think was the name if it. Not really a traditional pub atmosphere, actually more for the folks who like a little tacky elegance. But the Guinness was good and we had a right nice time talking it up.

Earlier, though, i should mention, we had a break from about 3:30 on to about 8. this gave us a good chance to rest or in my case to head out on the bike to explore the immediate area a bit. Directly across the road from Tigh Bhric was a small road that led off to Trá an Fhíonna--Wine Strand they call it in English. It’s a very popular swimming and camping destination for a good number of folks. I rode over and took a few pictures. It’s a lovely beach, actually just one in a set of beaches that stretch for a few miles on Smerwick harbour. There's a lot of really thick tufty grass up higher above the beach, and that's where i found myself when i came across the first ogham stone i've ever seen. These stones were erected, they say, to mark territory, generally. I got a nice little book detailing the location and inscriptions of all the known ogham stones on the dingle peninsula. Anyway it was pretty nice, covered in yellow lichen and little yellowish snails. The writing was pretty worn, but still fairly visible. And the setting really gets your imagination going.

A bit later i saw some folks down on the beach, one of which was a topless little 11 or 12 year old girl playing with her equally topless brother. Hmmm, i thought. There was no one else around except a woman who was maybe 100 yards down the beach, slowly making her way toward them with her arms outstretched as if she were pretending to fly.

Well that was day one at the course—a very satisfying one overall. I was extremely glad that it had begun and that i had some structure to my days for awhile. It helped me familiarize myself with the area so later in the week when the course was over i knew better what i wanted to do with myself.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

as mo dhialann Ghaeilge--12 Lúnasa, 2007

Bricfeasta—yum! Rice Krispies, caife, úll, yogurt—agus cúpla Gearmánach insan seomra liom—mé im' aonar mar sin féin--

ó diabhal an rud—oíche aréir—tháinig an leanúin béal dorais isteach an-déanach, agus ansin chaitheadar dhá uair a chloig ag bualadh craicinn! Yikes!

Ok, seo agam anois an chuid eile mo bhricfeasta.

Bainfidh mé an-sult as!

Níos déanaí--

am dinnéir anois. Do bhíos in ann caint le cúpla duine inniu as Gaeilge, ach rudaí simplí a rá den chuid is mó.

Agus shiúl buachaill le súil amháin tharam díreach anois—aisteach! Ní raibh paiste air ach bhí poll in ionad a shúl! anois—cén fáth sin? Is cuma. Ní cuimhin liom ainm an tí seo. (Tigh an tSaoirsigh, b'fhéidir) á, tá an bia anseo cheanna féin...

so cad tá déanta agam inniu? bhoil—d'éirigh mé agus d'itheas mo bhricfeasta. Tar éis sin, chuas amach chun dul go dtí an Daingean ar an ordóg, agus do fuaireas síob láithreach, nó geall leis (ba luath go bhfuaireas síob) teaghlach as Baile Átha Cliath ab ea na daoine a thóg mé, agus Gaeilge acu, bhoil ag na tuismitheoirí—bhí beagán ag na páistí. D'fhagadar i lar an bhaile mé agus do shiúlas timpeall go dtí gur aimsigh mé na háiteanna a raibh á lorg agam.. fuaireas Caifé an Ghréasáin, tigh óstán in a bheith mé in ann fanacht ar feadh cúpla oíche an seachtain seo chugainn—sin The Goat Street Cafe (Caifé Sráid an Ghabhair??). Agus fuaireas rothar ar cíos ón tsiopa ag Paddy...

agus mé ag an gcaifé, do bhuaileas le bean darbh ainm Claire—bhíomar ag roinnt boird le chéile mar gheall ar an méid daoine a bhí ann, agus tá an áit sin chomh beag.

Ok, bíodh leor a rá go thugas an rothar ar ais go mBaile an Fheirtéaraigh—turas 12 km a bheag nó a mhór, agus anois tá mo chroí fós ag preabadh! Agus tá mo thóin chomh pianmhar is a bhí sé inné!

Ok, sin é go fóill...

12 Lúnasa, 2007--part 2--ón Daingean go Baile an Fhéirtéaraigh,

Okay, so off i went , not sure how long it would take but ready with my bottles of water and my snacks from the Super Valu grocery store. i figures it would be a moderately difficult ride, given that this part of Ireland is rather hilly, and i hadn't really done any exercising since Boston Logan airport, but i was ready to take my time and enjoy the scenery.

i took the Slea Head Drive to the second turning past the rotary west of Dingle, which was a longer way through but i figured by the map that it looked less hilly. i didn't want to kill myself, you see. This took me off the main road and dropped me off in Ventry, after about 3 or 4 KM. i REALLY liked being on a bicycle in Ireland--it felt good to have my mobility and to be "on the ground" so to speak. really a part of the landscape--not just watching it whizz by in a car. i really appreciated the differences in the landscape as well--the different birds and plants, the feel of the air, the roll of the hills. very fun. anyway, i arrived in Ventry, but i didn't stay long except to have a look at the beach. on that grey, cool, rainy day it wasn't much to see. i hung out a while though, because after all, i don't get to hang out at the ocean much. eventually i headed off to find another back road to take me "home".

i took the first right turning out of Ventry. this would take me directly toward Ballyferriter. more precisely it would dump me back on the Slea Head Drive at its north loop, very close to Tigh Bhric. nice. and through a gap in the hills that wouldn't test my heart health too strenuously, i figured. i hadn't gone too far when i was heading up a pretty steady but shallow incline, and as i looked up to get my bearings i saw my first castle. well the first castle on this trip anyway. Caisleán Rath Sheanáinn. Rathanane Castle. a really beautiful ruin, destroyed by Cromwell. to get to it i had to pay 2 Euro to a woman who owned the field through which you had to walk to get there. i left my bike at her place and walked up, dodging cow and sheep patties on the way.

the castle is situated in the middle of a 2-walled circular earthen enclosure which predates the castle by 1000 years or so. it would have been the location of a farmer and his family and the location of their dwellings, probably stone huts, and their livestock. mostly it was to protect the farmers livestock fro cattle raids that were common at the time. (300 - 1000 AD) it was a really beautiful and fascinating site, anyway.

i took quite a few pictures of that particular site, some of my favorites from the entire trip.

after that i continued home. it really wasn't as far as i thought it would be. i made it well before dark, decided to grab some supper in Ballyferriter. At the pub there i had nothing special to eat, but i did see a lad who had one eye. the other eye was gone and he just had the empty socket there--kinda cool, kinda creepy! he didn't seem to care and i wasn't going to stare, so i forgot about him shortly.

i guess i walked home after that, had a pint at Tigh Bhric maybe and watched a bit of Irish television, talked to Steph on the phone and looked forward to starting the course next day.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

12 Lúnasa. 2007--An Daingean, pt 1

Panic woke me up the following day. I must have been crazy to arrange things the way i did. i had a place to stay, the course would be fine and keep me busy for the next week, but after that i'd basically be stuck at the B+B. i could take a cab to places. yeah. but i didn't even know how far i could stretch my money at this point--did i have a lot of money or was i broke? i was clueless, and immobile, not having a clue or a means of transportation. i had thought about renting a bicycle for a week, but again i hadn't any idea if i could afford it. well it was either that or only see what was within walking distance of Tigh Bhric for the rest of my trip. so i had no choice--it was either rent a bike or, or, or--not. and if not i'd be so not taking advantage of being in Ireland.

(looking back on the trip now--i wish i had rented a car for a couple of days, though i would never ever give up the experience of being on the ground--ar a bhfód is the expression in Irish. but i would have liked to drive to galway or Dublin, i think, maybe over Connor pass. anyway...next time)

i decided to hitch into Dingle (an Daingean in Irish) and find out about renting a bike, see whether there was a place i could access the internet and to get some money for the week.

remembering to situate myself on the wrong side of the road--the left--i stuck out the wrong thumb--again the left--and watched a car go past every few minutes. there wasn't much traffic on this part of the Slea Head Drive--perhaps it was too early, or perhaps most of the tourists decided it wasn't worth driving past Ballyferriter. who knows? it wasn't 5 minutes before i got my lift, however, and in my excitement i asked the driver "An bhfuil sibh ag dul go dtí an Daingean?" forgetting that there was every chance they were German or English, and wouldn't know what the hell i just said! its lucky they were from Dublin.

the man and woman driving seemed in their 40's. they were awfully friendly. their three kids, about aged 9, 13 and 17 or so, were quiet and i'd say a bit startled by the randomness of my sudden presence in the car. the father and i spoke in Irish. i was so excited to be trying it out on people who really spoke the language in Ireland! it went pretty well, i suppose, and i think i quite impressed them when i told them i was from the US. in fact, throughout my trip i found that people were pretty stunned to hear that someone could learn Irish in America without having gone to a Gaelscoil, or our equivalent of grade school and middle school, except that all classes are conducted in the Irish language. they were curious about what resources are available here, so i told them about Daltaí na Gaeilge, and Ár dTeanga Féin and the like, and about the regular immersion programs that are conducted by those groups.

anyway we talked in Irish about this and that until we reached the Dingle. i mean Dingle. whatever.

they dropped me off on Strand Street, i think. with a blurry map of the town in my head--i had done a little research online before i left--i set off up Dykegate Lane to see what i could find.

it was actually pretty early for Dingle. not too much was open just yet. i did manage to locate Paddy's Bike rentals and determined to come back when he opened a bit later. The Cafe Litertha is directly across the lane from the bikes, so i stopped in for a cup of coffee. a bit of Irish later i had a cup to go. i walked up to the Main Street and found an ATM and the post office. i did my business of buying postcard stamps there in Irish as well, and even managed to get in a joke about how it was a pity to use the stamps because they tend to be so beautiful. i think the ones i got had flowers on them or something. by then it was time to get the bike.

Paddy is a quiet man. oh he'll talk, but quietly. he has an air of calmness and patience about him that seemed contrary to the fact that he runs a bike rental shop in a pretty hopping tourist town. his shop is little more than half a room, with what seemed to be a sort of storage courtyard behind it. anyway he had a mountain bike that i was happy to rent for 50 euro for the week, plus 5 euro for the helmet that i knew i should rent but knew i wouldn't use, and the pump was free, as was the lock and key.

off i went, down to the harbour. i went out to the end of the main key, happy to be near so much water. we really need to move to the coast. we're both Pisces so of course it makes sense! in any case the view was of course great and i took some pictures to remember it by. there was a boat moored there that i was told was a famine ship--the Jeanne Johnston--it took passengers out of Ireland during the famine years. beautiful old sailing vessel--i don't know a schooner from a corsair so i can't tell you what configuration it was, but it had a bunch of sails and it looked as though pirates were going to come storming off of it and take all my booty. (NOTE--further research of my own photographs of the ship and of the internet have revealed that this is a replica of a ship that carried immigrants from Ireland to America during the famine years. it sailed out of Tralee--mb)

well i rode around a bit until it was hungry, so i went back up to the Main Street to get some lunch. i found the Goat Street Cafe, on Upper Main Street. i noticed they had accommodations there so i decided to try to get a room for a couple nights in the town near the end of my stay. that way i could take in the "city life" and be nearer the bus when i would have to take it back to the airport. it happened that they did have a room for the time i wanted. so that arranged i sat down to enjoy lunch.

that place was smaller that Paddy's Bike Rentals. i ended up changing tables twice at the suggestion of a friendly 30-something Irish woman by the name Claire--a local singer--and she and i and a friend of hers who had a cute little daughter sat and had a friendly lunch. claire ate alot. i felt a bit like i should be eating more because i was being out eaten by a small woman, but really--i needed to take it easy because i had to ride the bike all the way back to Ballyferriter without throwing up. we parted ways and i set off on my journey back, hoping to catch a glimpse of some ancient ruin or other on the way.

Friday, September 14, 2007

11 Lúnasa, 2007--Bus Éireann agus Tigh Bhric


Shannon Airport seemed extremely small compared to the behemoths that are JFK and Logan Boston. of course, i didn't see much of Shannon. i felt relieved, displaced, alone, and a bit worried that my bag didn't follow me. it did. great. so now i have to find the bus, because i had a ticket to Dingle town, and no clue when the next bus left, or even where to catch it.

it wasn't too hard to figure that all out. i saw a bus go by. i followed it to an outdoor bus shelter. it happened to be my bus, so i got on. this is 10 minutes after i got my bag.

Bus Éireann's schedule turns out to be pretty tight--except for Limerick, where i was able to walk into town to get a SIM card for my phone and a quick fish sandwich, it was off one bus and onto the next almost immediately. i didn't talk to anyone. i took some pictures, which you can see HERE at my photobucket site. mostly what i saw was highway. i was sitting on the left side of the bus, and i kept having these flashes of panic because the cars were passing us on the wrong side! i also kept looking out my window whenever we went past something i wanted a second look at, as if there were a rear-view mirror mounted on the side of the bus--i'm used to driving! anyway, it was an odd feeling, everything being flipped around like that.

after Tralee, there was a marked improvement in the quality of the landscape and views to be had from the bus window--more nature, some ruins flashing by, more cows and sheep. moo moo, baa baa. hedges, narrower roads. the real Ireland at last.

the bus dropped me off in Dingle about 3-ish, i guess. i don't really remember. at that point time was moot. i had been awake and in motion for so long that i wasn't registering much. i walked around a bit, sort of aimlessly getting my bearings. finally i decided to get a taxi in to Ballyferriter, where i knew there was a warm and cozy, if slightly expensive room waiting for me, and most importantly, once i got there--i had nowhere further to go!

i managed to get a ride with "Dolphin Taxi" service, and the driver was a pleasant fellow--a local, but i don't remember if i tried the Gaeilge on him (that's the Irish word for the Irish language, for those of you who don't know.) we were at Tigh Bhric in about 10 minutes. it was during this ride that i noticed just how narrow the roads on the Dingle peninsula are--barely room for 2 cars to pass, much less for 2 tour buses. and the cars are quite small in the green land, i have to point out!

we zipped around a bend and bang! there was Tigh Bhric. a pleasant, multi-colored building which contains a pub, a restaurant, B+B accommodations, a small food and off-license shop, and a really fine restaurant. The bean an tí, or woman of the house--Adrian (hope i spelled that right!) is not only a fine person but a fine artist as well--her sculptures, mostly metal abstracted interpretations of the human figure and the landscape or buildings and the like, are to be seen throughout the main dining room and pub, as well as the entrance to the lodgings. The fear an tí, or man of the house, Pól Ó Bric, is the one with the Irish, and the excellent suggestions for warm whiskey drinks on days on which you've been caught by the rain while riding your bicycle. both of them work tirelessly to make sure everyone is well taken care of. i was glad to be staying at the place for so long--9 nights altogether--because it gave me a chance to get to know those two a little more than the average guest probably would. Adrian insists that she's an old crank, but i swear to you she's not--she's brilliant, and loves a good conversation about art--particularly her own!

anyway, back to the account. i put my things in my room after checking in, and unpacked a bit. i felt restless, as if i should not be wasting time sitting in my room watching TV because after all i travelled a long long way to get to Ireland i damn well better get off my ass and see some of it! dinner wasn't to be served till half 6 anyhow, so i decided to have a pint and take a walk into Ballyferiter. i wanted to see the town and get a sense of how long it would take to walk to my morning classes during the next week. i had my pint out on the patio behind the pub. there was an incredible view of the surrounding fields and the distant hills and there were peacefuly grazing horses 20 feet from where i was sitting. absolutely beautiful.

oh. my. god. i LOVE drinking GUINNESS in Ireland!

thus bolstered by my first real Irish Guinness, i set out for Ballyferiter to find out just what sort of town i was to take my course in.

it wasn't far. a mile or so. took me 20 minutes to get there, maybe 25 as i was stopping and taking pictures of the part of Smerwick harbour i could see to my right--that being north. three small mountains--hills really, dominated most of the views i saw during my entire trip, as i ended up renting a bike and didn't really travel too far from Ballyferriter. "The three sisters" is the name given to these three hills collectively. They are also called Binn Hanraí, an Bhinn Meánach, and Binn Diarmada. there's a story behind why they are called the three sisters. but i don't know it. time for a little research... another view i often found before me was that of Sibyl Point, or Ceann Sibéal, which is very near the three sisters.

i walked into the town of Ballyferriter itself. on the way noticing the brightly colored Fuscia and another crazy orange flowering plant that grow commonly on the hedges in the area.. in the town itself there's really not much but 6 or 7 pubs, most of which offer accommodation as well as food. there's a hotel. there WAS a post office. trouble is it was closed due to the recent death of the postman. go raibh a anam ar thaobh dheis Dé. that made it a bit harder to get stamps and money, as the office had the only ATM in the village! there's a wee food shop, but honestly the one at Tigh Bhric was much better at 1/10th the size. Ballyferrriter is also home to the Dingle Peninsula Heritage, or an Oidhreacht Chorca Dhuibhne, an organisation that promotes the culture and heritage of the peninsula through events such as the course that i was in Ireland to take. they particularly promote the Irish language, especially the local dialect. there is a museum in the village associated with the organization which houses some of the archaeological artifacts found on the peninsula, as well as the local history and legends. There is a handy little bookshop and cafe there as well.

but this particular visit i was not aware of any of these fine features of the village--i was there to take pictures and get another pint!

after the pint i was pretty spent. back to the B+B with me, where i basically waited an hour or so before going to bed, because i didn't want to be waking up at 6 in the morning the next day. i had a tentative plan to go into Dingle town somehow--maybe i'd hitchhike, maybe i'd get a taxi--i wasn't sure. all i was sure of was that i was going to sleep very well that night and wake up the next day to get this rip fully underway!

Sunday, September 9, 2007

an céad lá--Friday, August 10--the herding

So often these days you hear that travel, especially by plane, is more difficult than its been in years--for obvious reasons. Since 9-11, the airline industry has had to cut back services due to reduced demand. now, however, it seems that people are becoming bold again, since no major atacks have happened here on american soil, i suppose, and the demand for service has increased faster than the airlines can provide it. just one reason, i suppose, that delays at airports are the worst in 17 years or so, at least thats what i heard on NPR. i'm sure the weather has alot to do with it at times as well. al lthis was in my mind as we drove to the airport about 4 hours before my flight. My sister Sarah drove me, and my girfriend, partner, best friend, whatever you wish, came along to see me off safely. i was nervous as hell!
that day the weather was not cooperative. it was cloudy, rainy, and visibility was low. i left from Boston Logan airport. my flight was scheduled to leave at 4:35pm. i was to catch a connecton at JFK at 6:something pm, to arrive in Ireland at about 9 in the morning local time. very good on paper. very clear.

so they anticipated that my flight may be delayed and i might miss my connection, so they put me on standby for an earlier flight so that even if the standby flight was delayed it might be in JFK on time for me to connect. so i waited. that flight WAS delayed, of course. but inexperienced traveler that i am, i kept waiting even though i should have been going to the other gate to get my original flight! which actually boarded on time! if i hadn't heard the final boarding call for my original flight, i would have been in Boston Logan airport to this day. i'm sure of that. especially in light of what happened on my return flight. but that's another story.

so i ran.

i wasn't carrying much. just a backpack--not too heavy. so that wasn't the reason i nearly had a bleeding heart attack when i finally got to the proper gate. no. i was out of shape. waking up your heart and lungs with a quarter mile sprint through an airport carrying a backpack isn't really recomended by doctors as the best way to start an exerise regimen--and that for a reason i reckon.

in any case when i finally stumbled into the right gate, i whisked myself onto the plane, and plopped into my seat panting and shaking, desperate for water. no sooner had i sat down when i heard the flight attendant announce that there was to be a further 2 hour delay. excellent. and that we all should get of the plane if we were making connections, because there would be representatives waiting for us at the gate to help us figure out how we were going to work it all out. which basically meant that i had to get out of the plane and stand in a huge line while the clock ticked off the time to my flight from JFK to Shannon.

in spite of my mood at that time, i was having a pleasant conversation with the man behind me in line--a frequent flier who seemed not to be too worried at the prospect of spending the night in a crappy Delta-provided hotel in Boston. whereas i--i was pissed. i spent the whole summer working out the details of my trip! i got a bus ticket online from Shannon to Dingle for the next day. i booked my accomodation 2 months in advance! everyting was arranged, god dammit! this wasnt fair.

well the next thing i knew we were all being herded into the plane again. baa baa. moo moo. the flight to JFK was to be 45 minutes. my flight to Shannon left in about an hour.

we got to JFK just in time for me so jog, not sprint, to my gate and get directly on the plane. the original sprint must have done me some good because the palpitations weren't nearly as severe this time around. and international flights generally leave on time, or so i hear. and so we did.

the flight. if i wasn't nervous enough about missing my flight, i was terrified of the flight itself. i hate flying. at least i did at the time. the flights themselves were pretty good, so i think i have a better idea of what kind of turbulence is ok. i think the worst thing about the flight was that i was already braindead from all the hassle in the airport, and it was night, and i was tired but so nervous that i knew i wouldn't sleep. because if i sleep on a plane, the plane will crash. after all, it's my will that keeps all the planes in the air. it's not physics. its me. staying awake. keeping everyone safe.

no need to thank me.

i took melatonin to try to put me to sleep, which works great here a home. i'm out in about a half hour when i take a pill. different story on the plane. for one thing, you're not in your bed on a plane. i think they should create a "Sleeping Class" in addition to first and coach, because i think it would be very popular. also, there's all kinds of stuff going on in the cabin--food being served (thank GOD for that!!!), movies flashing on multiple screens, people noises, plane noises, flight attendants joking and getting to know each other, or catching up on travel stories--all sorts of distractions. at least i had a row of three seats to myself, right at the back of the plane, so i guess i had the most peaceful spot possible, not counting the fact that the food prep area and the flight attendant break area are right there as well. so i got to know them sort of vicariously. i wonder how they're doing...

anyway the melatonin didn't work. i dozed but didn't sleep. i read alot--nearly finished the book "The Amber Spyglass" by Phillip Pullman--part of the "His Dark Materials" sequence. (http://www.randomhouse.com/features/pullman/) The first book, "The Golden Compass," is coming out as a movie this Christmas. Look for it in theaters near you. The movie they played on the plane really sucked. and it wasn't just that i didn't have the sound on. i tried watching it for a while with the sound on, and it really really sucked. some cheezy murder mysery with tacky cinematography.

that brings me to Ireland and the next day of my journey, which i guarantee will be just as exciting as the first! tune in next time for my bus ride, Tigh Bhric and my first pint of Guinness in Ireland. Sweet.
From my journal...
8-10-07, JFK
Jesus—ní féidir liom na heachtraí a tharla dom a mhíniú. Ar dtús—bhíos ar feitheamh (standby?) ar éitlt uimhir a 5513, cé go raibh an fíor éitilt agam uimhir a 697, nó pé rud. Agus 5514 ag an ngeata 14. rinne mé dearmad dul go geata 14 ag an am a ba chóir. Agus ba bheag nár cailleas an éitleán agus bhí sé déanach goleor leis! Thángas go dtí an aerfort go díreach, agus iad ag ligeant na daoine ar an eitleán. Anois, mé m' shuí i ndeireadh an eitleán, ag tnúth go mór mór go dtí go bhfuil an turas thart.

Tá súil agam go mainfaimid Éire amach go sabháilte!
an lá dár gcionn...
...beagnach in Éirinn. Beimid ag teacht i dtír i níos lú ná uair a chloig.

...tá pían, AN-phían, im' thóin. Tá sé briste!

Uh oh, turbulence. Is fuath liom suaiteacht.

Níor chodailmé ach cúpla néal—so, tuirse orm. Ach, tá m'fhiacla scuaibthe agus braon caife ólta agam.

Uh oh, tuilleadh suaiteachta...

agus b'shin a méid go dtí an dara lá déag den mhí...slán go fóill!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

welcome to ya...

"Coicís in Éirinn" --a fortnight in Ireland. two weeks for you american speakers out there.

i recently went to Ireland for about 2 weeks and i intend this blog to be sort of a post-event travelogue based on a journal i kept while i was there. lots of photos too. check out http://s240.photobucket.com/albums/ff20/fearfeasog/ for 80 some-odd of the couple hundred i took. i'll probably refer to them as i write, and post some within the blog as well--just to make it look interesting.

going to ireland was an amazing treat. i worked my ass off all summer (thanks for putting up with THAT, Steph! xox!) and made enough money to live more or less like a king. B + B style. ate out every meal. bought books and CD's. rented a bike. the only thing i didn't do was rent a car. or buy a house. though i would love to buy a house in Ireland!

anyway. i hope you enjoy reading about my trip as much as i enjoyed living it. i'm sad it's over but i won't soon forget it! i want to give a hearty anerican-style howdy to Fergal, Patricia, Sinéad and Elaine, members of the gang i hung out with during the better part of my trip. there were others as well, and i'll mention them as i go along. do bhaineas an-sult as bhur gcomhlúadar agus tá súil agam go ndeachaidh sibh abhaile go sabháilte. cífidh mé sibh an bhliain seo chugainn--geallaim daoibh!

slán go fóillín!