Wednesday, August 28, 2012
Our ship rocked and rolled all night more than previously. Books turned over on the shelf.
Early this morning, I awoke, when the captain announced over the loudspeaker that a water pump was broken and that we would seek to have it repaired shortly. He implied there was somewhere off the ship to repair it, a mystery to me since I didn’t know we would pass any islands. Just then I heard crew loudly talking and someone shouted “An oily!” which I understood meant “whale.” What followed were a series of shouts and movement as I heard male voices then calling out the oaring: “ONE! Pull! TWO! THREE!” I felt the ship pull strongly to starboard and when I looked out the porthole we were quite close to a beach. Again my amazement because I didn’t know there was an island in the North Atlantic, much less one where there were boats moored. Then the captain said again “We’re passing some junks.” And again I was amazed because I never had heard of Chinese junks sailing in the Atlantic.I went back to sleep and when I later awoke, I was amazed at all that had passed in the night.But I was suspicious. I checked. No captain had spoken over the loudspeakers that evening.I had dreamed it all.Yet how true it seemed – I think it’s called a “lucid” dream.Galway, Ireland
August 31, Friday – After returning from a day in Galway, Ireland.
I awoke this morning at 5 to lights on the Irish coast, not imaginary ones this time. It was the first time in seven days that we had seen land and then a short time later, walked on it. At breakfast, excited voyagers walked outside on the deck where it was foggy and drizzling to snap photos of the lights on the land. By the time we went ashore, the day was gray but not rainy.
One of the most interesting parts of this trip was getting to and from the ship which was anchored offshore. We were “tendered” in our lifeboats this morning from the ship to the dock in the port area, and back again tonight. The lifeboat is covered and enclosed. Its benches would hold approximately 66 people each plus the crew. The lifeboat captain sits on a platform above the passengers with an open area for him to see out of the boat to steer. Smooth going in but tonight coming back to the ship, we were rocking and rolling with the waves. The crew was fabulous helping board and disembark safely.It turned out to be a lovely day, overcast and cool but not too cool and not hot. With the Boeschensteins, Linda and I explored the City Museum, walked through the Spanish Arch, where Spanish ships would land with their wares of wine to sell in the market. Wending our way down narrow streets and away from the water, we came to a pedestrian mall where historical buildings from the 14th -19th century blend with new construction for a vibrant area of shops and restaurants. Street band playing and singing Irish tunes; harpists plucking out the Celtic notes of long ago, and a banjo player singing and playing “Hey Jude.” Later another street singer was doing his Dylan repertoire.A wood nymph – dressed in embroidered green outfit garlanded with flowers and wearing green face paint and green leaves for her hair, stands silently as passersby take pictures and even donate money.
Lynch Castle, once a focal point within the ancient city walls, and home to the Mayor, is now a UBI Bank where I sought some euros. While mayor, Lynch had a son who killed a Spaniard. He was brought to justice, tried and found guilty and sentenced to death, while his father presided over the court. Yet no one was willing to be the executioner because his father was the Mayor. So the Mayor became his son’s executioner, hanging him from a window in the castle, after which time, the father went into seclusion – a sad, sad story.
In the City Museum, we learned about Padraic O Connair (born Patrick Conroy in 1882), who became a storyteller and advocate for Irish independence. In 1916, he was accused of being a spy around the time there was a huge uprising of the Irish nationalists against the British. Despite his prestige as a writer, Connair died penniless in the 1920s after years of loneliness, alcoholism and isolation. The town had a statue made of him, but after it was beheaded in 1999, the work was reconstructed in the City Museum. (I must read some stories of Padraic O Connair).
We stopped for lunch at Griffin’s Tea Room around noon, parting from the Boeschensteins at this time. Linda and I both had a wonderful seafood chowder with huge hunks of cod, salmon and other whitefish, and a delicious brown bread. Later at dinnertime, we ate at McDonagh’s where Linda had traditional fish and chips (cod) and I, a grilled mackerel, which was good but much fishier than the Spanish mackerel that thrives along the Outer Banks. In between, we stopped at An Cupan Tae for tea and – for me – a raisin scone. Very nice.