Friday, January 28, 2011
Beating the Icy Fields
Leaving a city is an easy thing. How quickly you leave the city can be quite a different matter. We left our hotel in Athlone around mid morning, helped ourselves to the continental breakfast and headed to our next destination of Kilnaborris House in Banagher. We found the correct road to take out of town thanks to a city center map next to Athlone Castle and began to walk. When hitchhiking it's best to walk to the road that leads to your destination and then start thumbing, otherwise someone might pull over take you one mile and dump you at your turn off. Not the ideal situation. The walk to the turn off was a bit further than we anticipated (I don't think that map was to scale) and along the way a professor at the Tech College gave us the directions we needed. He then went even further, got in his car and drove us to the turn off we needed because he knew how long of a distance it was. I'm pretty sure he saved us at least twenty minutes.
When the professor dropped us off, he advised we stay there at the intersection and hitchhike there as the road ahead was narrow and curvy. Colleen and I did as he suggested for about ten minutes, then decided to start walking. (Would you rather pick up someone who is standing still, or someone who is walking determinedly to their destination? This is a debate between us that is still unresolved). So we walked and the further down the road we went, the more we realized our lives may have been more jeopardized with each step we took. A couple of times we had to step off into the hedge to let large trucks go by. Once a big truck didn't even bother to move over, despite the lack of oncoming traffic. I think my nose was three feet from being roadkill.
About thirty-forty minutes later, we decided to stop at a place where a driveway into a field provided a safe place to hitch. About five minutes passed before a car pulled over. We were picked up by a welder on his way to a job, but had to stop at his house first. We were in no rush, so that was fine by us. He invited us in for tea, where his place was not as filthy as Jimmy's in Glen Colum Cille, but probably will be in about 30 years. We continued on and felt our way to the Kilnaborris House.
Michael and Louise are very warm people, easy to get along with, great parents and busy between a dwindling business, an aspiring PhD, a second business getting underway and four children. They handle it all remarkably smoothly. They make it look easy. Our job while we were there was to turn the flower patches, and weed the herb garden for 5 hours a day. Turning the dirt was more difficult than usual as the ground was frozen at least one inch deep. We felt like our five hours a day were not being used efficiently as it took us to three days to get all the patches done, when usually it might have taken one.
We ate dinner with the family every night, and cooked for them on our final night there. All the kids are very friendly towards each guest, and their youngest daughter, around age 5, couldn't get enough attention. She attached herself to Colleen, which I'm sure she didn't mind at all. I would play games with their eldest, and got used to the feeling of being shot in Call of Duty when we played against each other.
Michael drove us to Ballinsloe so we could catch the bus to Galway. Galway has been an entertaining city, with incredible structures and lovely walks along the River Corrib. We spent some time in Garvey's Bar last night, wrote in our journal and listened to a few comedians. Some were okay, some forgot their bits and walked off the stage. I guess that's show business. Today we shopped a little (finally a place that sells men's hats and gloves) explored the city thanks to a lady who was inspired to paint by the local surroundings of Galway and ate the best fish and chips in town.
Tomorrow we head to Drogheda so we can see the ruins at Newgrange. I'm looking forward to them. Anything bigger and older than Stonehenge should be pretty cool.