Saturday, January 10, 2009

20 Lúnasa, 2007--Slán ag Tigh Bhric

It's been quite awhile since my last post and it's been over a year since i went to and came back from Ireland. But I'm nearly finished so hang in there.

The 20th was the day i had to leave Tigh Bhric. By now i felt like i lived there, like the pub abd restaurant was my livingroom and dining room, and the hearth was mine too. I wish. Anyway Adrienne gave me a nie deal on the stay, we chatted awhile and i got a ride into town with Martin who was going that way anyway.

Slán agat a Thigh Bhric! Go n-éirí leat!

I had already made arrangements to stay at the Goat Street Cafe, so i went there for a cup of coffee while i waited for my room to be ready. I still had the bike so i had to leave that outside for the time being. I'd be returning it the next day because today i needed it to do a bit more exploring. I'd seen this weird tower on this point on the other side od Dingle harbour so i thought i'd check that out.

Once i was settled in i went off to find the tower. It wasn't particularly far. the whoe peninsula is surprisingly small—if i'd had a road bike i could have gone further than i did, but i wouldn't have been able to go off-road like i wanted to. Maybe next time i'll bring the Surly Cross Check i'm hoping to buy next spring.

anyway, the tower. theres a road running down the point from the main Slea Head Drive, not more than a few miles probably, that leads out to the tower. the tricky part is that it's on a really really steep hill, riddled with sheep and cows. and bulls. lots of signs warned tourists and would-be tower seekers not to go through particular fields because of the presence of bull. might have BEEN bull too, because you have to pay to use the “official” trail, which i did—partially. I had less than a euro in my pocket, please forgive me if you are the owner of that land and you are reading this through some miracle of Google technology. I swear i was very low impact, and did not intentionally scare the sheep, although this guy scared ME a little.

It was one hell of a steep climb. Lovely. the trail switched back on itself numerous times and went through a couple gates. The tower itself was pretty impressive—not for its size or design really, but for the fact that you knew that a bunch of famine era guys had to gather the stone and pile it up just so in that remote location, on that super-windy hill. for all i know they had to haul the stone up the hill from the bottom. anyway, the tower's called Eask Tower and its purpose was to guide ships into Dingle harbour—the harbour's mouth was hidden in a way because of the way the land sort of protects it, which could be why they called the town “An Daingean” in the first place, which means “the fortress.” there was once a big wooden hand pointing toward the harbour. That's apparently blown away, because there's no sign of it nearby.

The view from Carhoo hill on which the tower is situated was incredible. I could see seaguls wheeling around far below me, and hear the waves smashing the rocks. and the wind was madness on the climb up. see THIS video and THIS video too.

After i left the tower, i was ooking for something else to see and I noticed that there was a little red dot on the map i had near my location. so i decided to go ahead and try to locate it. you never know what challenges are ahead using this “wing it” aproach. Turns out it wasn't a red dot at all in reality but a ring fort. It was out in a field, and there were some guys building (yet another) new house nearby so i asked if they knew who owned the land as i'd like to get permission to cross their land. they said not to bother, so i left the bike, hopped a wall and walked. Windy here too. It was a really interesting fort, nice and lumpy, suggesting the presence of something below the surface. There was a hole in the ground that looked like it may have been the entrance to a souterrain. These pictures will tell you more than i can say in words, but even the pictures don't quite get the feeling of being there.

After the fort i was ready to give up the bike. I brought it back to Paddy's Bike Rentals and paid my balance—i had the bike for a few extra days over what i'd paid for. It was a decent bike, definitely not the lightest frame out there, but really great for exploring off-road. and i never got a flat, luckily.Thank's Paddy! I highly recommend you pay Paddy a visit if you're in the market for a bike in the Dingle area.

As i walked trough town i noticed a place caled the Dingle Music School. They apparently give lessons in tin whistle, fiddle, bodhran and the like. I brought my bodhran with me on the trip, thinking i might get a chance to use it at a session or something, so i thought i'd see if they had someone at the school who could give me an advanced lesson so i could improve my chops, or at least know what i was supposed to be doing so i could practice on my own. they didn't have anyone there who taught at the advanced level, so they gave me the phone number of a guy named Eric, who's French, and who is, or was, THE bodhran player in Dingle. I called but had to leave a message. he never did call back but i ended up meeting im at a pub called Ó Flaitheartaigh's, where there was a regular (day of the week) night seisiún. We agreed to meet the following day. I brought my drum to that session but he never did step aside to let me play. looking back, i think this was a hint of what i was going to experience at our “lesson.”

in this photo, Eric is on the right, me third from left, then Dan and then Maria is to Eric's left. I met Dan and Maria on the boat to the Blasket Islands, but that's tomorrow's story.

So that's it for the 20th. my first night at the Goat Street Cafe was a little noisy—the sounds of the nightlife in Dingle filtering in through the sky light. but it seems to end early over there anyway.

one other thing—i bought a ticket for a trip the following day on the boat The Peig Sayers. The Peig Sayers sails from Dingle Harbour out to the Great Blaskett Island – an Blascaod Mór – and i knew that if i didn't go to the island, i'd get no end of grief for it when i got back home, considering the fact that of the folks who lived on the island all those years ago, many of them ended up in the Springfield Massachusetts area – my back door. Honestly i would have gone anyway.More on that trip next time.

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