Saturday, July 30, 2005
Athboy, County Meath, Ireland
We took it easy today, and stayed close to home. We spent a couple of hours hiking around a lake, where we got to see 2 swans, 4 cygnets, 5 donkeys (pronounced the way that Shrek says "Donkey", 'cuz that's the only way we say it now), and the boys' favorite, a dalmatian. The dog came trotting down from a nearby castle, hung with us for 10 minutes or so until we posed for a photo with it, at which time he trotted back off toward home. LOL!! The gardens and lake on the castle grounds were lovely. We took many, many pictures. I'll add one here when I get new batteries for the camera.
We also got up close and personal with a bog, even walking up onto the moss. Because of all the rain, the bog was, well, BOGGY. I was wearing sandals (my foot's still too swollen to cram into tennis shoes), and with every step, bog water came oozing up between my toes. We saw lots of shiny brown frogs, and some sort of very weird creature that Darren had the nerve to pick up. It was almost like a slug, except that it was round and about the size of a walnut. Strangest thing we've ever seen. We got to see where they've cut the turf, and how they've laid it out to dry. From the peat that's drying, they'll make peat bricks, which they burn for heat.
After dinner at home, we three adults went in search of some more traditional Irish music. We stopped first at a pub in Trim that Tracy recommended, and had some good laughs there with the locals. I tried my first pint of Guinness, and liked it more than I thought I would. Even so, I'm not a beer drinker, and I didn't even come close to finishing the pint, even after Darren and Nancy took a sip or two each. But I appreciated the slow draw, the manner in which it was poured, and the frothy top which almost, but didn't, spill over the glass. Pouring a pint of Guinness is almost a religious experience here.
There was no music, so when the pub got crowded, we decided to leave and head back to Athboy, where we found a session at another pub. There, I ordered a Bailey's on ice, and savored every last drop. The musicians asked if there were any singers in the room, and a group of women said, "The Americans will sing!" There was a lot of good-natured joking between us, and the more Guinness they consumed, the funnier they got. We didn't sing, though, since we're not real up-to-speed with traditional Irish songs. But we did get excited when they played something called "Red Rover", a song about spending all your money on whiskey. We'd heard it the other night in County Clare, and remembered enough of it to join in on the chorus and clap in the right places.
Tomorrow, we'll go into Dublin, where we've promised the boys a ride on the Viking Splash Tour. Dani and I will check out the Irish Writer's Museum, too. And we'll all experience Temple Bar (which isnt' a "bar", but a strip of land along the River Liffey, that's known for trendy shops and pubs, street musicians, artists, etc.)