Doug McLean World Tour 1999-2000
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Date: Wednesday, September 29, 1999 7:56 AM
Subject: Sept. 16-21 : Emer's Ireland: Shannon, Ring of Kerry, Dingle, Cork & KILKENNY!

Sept 16, 1999...continued...
...Clare and I took the bus from Galway to Shannon...where we were met by
Emer!!!!

Now...let me tell you...it is a lovely thing to be greeted by a friend in a foreign country and taken in and taken care of! I want to emphasize to all of my friends, family, and fellow travellers (who know this)...when on the road backpacking, when someone goes out of their way to help you it is not  only appreciated...but it touches you immensely!

I will never forget how Emer met us at the bus stop...threw us in her car...took us to her house...and practically force-fed us an incredible Irish stew and Rhubarb tart that her mother had made for us...talk about Irish Hospitality!!! Sniff...sniff...no kidding...both Clare and I were deeply touched...and we weren't even hungry...but it was soooooo goodthat I had a huge helping of stew and 2 helpings of the Rhubarb tart and custard...incredible.

Emer had only arrived home herself a week earlier (a little history for ya'll who don't know...I met Emer in New Zealand on March 16, 1999...she visited me in LA in April when she swung through the USA...and now it was my turn to visit her...merely coincidentally exactly 6 months to the day after I met her...wierd...insert Twilight Zone music here...) ...she had been on the road for 17 months!!! ...and you guys think that I love to travel! ...this gal understands the way of the backpacker!  ...anyway...one week after returning from her huge trip...she is taking time  out of her life (and avoiding looking for a job for a few more days...can you blame her???) to give us the deluxe tour of Ireland...quite a gal.

...she threw her stuff in the car...and we were off to the tiny town of Brandon on the West coast of Ireland...Emer's VERY good friend, Brenda,was staying in her parent's house there...and Emer was sure it would be no problem for us to just show up and crash with her...ummmm....sure...

...2 hours later...we arrived at the house in Brandon...no Brenda...but, did we panic??? No...we looked for Brenda in the only logical place she could be in Ireland...the closest PUB! ...and that is exactly where we found her and her friend, Adrian. ...she was estatic to see Emer...and us as well...ahhhhh....that welcome feeling is such a warming attribute of the Irish. We talked...they killed some pints of Guinness...and we played pool...and got in the car to go back to Brenda's house...

Well...being the sober one...I offered to drive the 400 meters from the pub  to the house...Emer agreed...and being somewhat unaccustomed to the vehicle...I asked if reverse was down and to the right?...she saidyes...but no matter what I did, I couldn't get it in reverse...hmmmm...Emer tried
across the seat...and eventually got out and simply pushed the car back so we could just go forward...when she opened the door to get back in I noticed that the diagram showed that reverse was up and to the left! ...now, I am not saying that Emer was too drunk to properly put the c ar in reverse...I am
sure she could have done it if she was driving...BUT...I am saying that she pushed the car backwards rather than figuring it out...that was the  highlight of the night...then we crashed...ummmm...I mean went to sleep.

Sept 17, 1999
We got up...had an incredible Irish breakfast! Like I said...the hospitality was awesome...and Emer was taking over the thinking for us. Now you at home may think this is bad...but let me assure you...while
travelling you have to think constantly about where to go, where to stay, how to get  food, when the trains leave...a million and one things...now we were letting Emer do our thinking for us...it was such a luxury!

We headed down across the Dingle Peninsula...awesome views of the super-green countryside...and arrived in Dingle. It is a lovely little seaside town...very picturesque...like anything in freaking Ireland
isn't picturesque...the whole place is a darned postcard...unless it is raining...which it would do intermittently (sp?).

Then off to the beginnings of the Ring of Kerry! This is what they call the drive around the Kerry Peninsula...it is lovely. We arrived in the northern end of the ring that night...and drove into Glenbeigh...they were having some sort of festival...and we were just in time. They had the absolute
cutest parade of youngsters down the middle of the mainstreet...with everyone around cheering for the kids...and a pipe band (bagpipes)...and then off to the pub! We listened to a band in a pub for a while...and it  started to pour rain...the heavens just unloaded on us! We were in a pub...but wanted to go to the town dance...so we ran down the street to the  car..I got in to drive...we went to the dance...only Clare and I went  in...Emer was somewhat tired...we danced and waltzed a little...then  left...and I drove to our hostel in Cahirciveen...now, this sounds  easy...but it was at night, on the wrong side of the road, and in the DRIVING RAIN...whenever I would see an oncoming car...I would slow andpull to the side of the road...it was really slow going...but we got there!

Sept 18, 1999
While I was in Dublin, I had been told I could see TEXAS while in Ireland!  ...and I believed them.
Now, before you think I am the most gullible darned human being that ever walked the earth...the discussion was about TEXAS...the Scottish musical group...performing today in Cork...I had talked the girls into going to the concert...it was free!

We all got in the car...and headed out to complete the ring o fKerry...and the plan was to see the ring and then to drive to Cork and catch theconcert that night.

The Kerry Peninsula has some really dramatic landscapes...cliffs...islands off the coast...old circular forts...standing stones...quaint old towns...castles...lots and lots to see...we saw it...went through
Killarney...and headed to Cork...to see TEXAS!!!

...now it was raining during parts of the day...and we started to wonder if the outdoor concert would be a problem for us...and the radio confirmed our thoughts...they said..."if you are driving to Cork to go to the TEXAS  show...turn around...it's canceled" ...sniff...sniff...it was my only chance to see TEXAS while in Europe...and I was denied.

...anyway...we arrived in Cork...checked into a hostel...Clare cooked us an awesome dinner (it pays to travel with gals...and don't forget, I screwed up the pasta on the Aran Islands...hmmmm...quite a good move, eh? :) ). It was rigatoni (sp?) and salad...mmmmmm...

Sept 19, 1999
We got up...and headed out to Blarney Castle to kiss that disgusting Blarney Stone...yes, touristy...but, hey, whatelse am I???

It is actually a lovely castle. The grounds are very nice, it is a very tall and ominous castle...we climbed to the top...and then were prepared to kiss it. Now, let me explain...the rock is kinda on the underside of
the outside wall...hard to explain...but you have to lay on your back, hang over a gap in the top wall, and kiss the stone behind your head, while someone holds your feet so you don't fall...guess you gotta go...really funky...you'd think that they could picked an easier stone to kiss than that darned one...

...anyway...I kissed it...but, funny...I still talk about as much as I always have...guess that says something...hmmmm?

We returned to Cork...toured the city...went pubbing...crashed.

Sept 20, 1999
Left Cork...went to Cashel to visit the "Rock of Cashel"...it is a huge Cathedral from the 12th century built on a huge limestone rock in Cashel...we toured this open-topped structure in the rain...hmmmm...notice a
them here on the Ireland trip??? Really...it rained a lot...they had flooding and everything...really.

From Cork we went to Kilkenny...at my urging...for the sake of Southpark I wanted to visit...silly...but, hey...

anyway...we got there...checked into a cool hostel...and went out...pubbing...whatelse??? We enjoyed the pubs and the late night cuisine (fish and chips) of Kilkenny...crashed.

Sept 21, 1999
Toured Kilkenny...did a walking tour...it was interesting...learned about how Kilkenny used to be a British city...and the Irish were not able to live in the city walls...literally exiles in their own country...second class
citizens. Hmmmmm...I do not agree with the IRA...but after visiting Ireland, I do have a betterunderstanding of the reasons for historical animosity between the Irish and the English.

Drove like heck to the Ferry terminal...but, before Emer would let us board, we had to get out the hurleys and play a little...let me explain. A huge sport in Ireland is Hurling...not the same sport that most American
college kids try (drinking as much as possible and then reverse drinking in the streets...on their clothes...or wherever...)...no, hurling is kinda across between lacrosse, baseball, and rugby...you gotta see it...can't be described...

...anyway...we hit the schlitter (the hurley game ball) around in the parking lot...and then kissed Emer goodbye and boarded the ferry.

...Sniff...sniff...it was hard to say goodbye to Emer...she was a lovely guide...and a great friend! THANKS EMER!!!
ferry...this time bound for France...passed time...had the child's plate of fish and chips for dinner...watched a really lame ferry cruise ship show...saw a movie (can't remember which one)...and crashed...and dreamed good dreams about Ireland.

Doug