Tuesday, January 19, 2016

9/28 - Inishowen Peninsula

9/28 - Inishowen Peninsula
More pics here.
Road trip leg 4 here.

After Slieve League and dinner in Carrick, we made the drive up the Inishowen Peninsula (the north-west corner of the country and island) to Buncrana, arriving after dark. Perhaps because my body was so tired, I don’t recall being too sick from the ride, thankfully. Our lodging here was at Harbour Inn Hotel, and while it would have been perfectly nice before our B&B experiences, it now felt a bit cold and stiff. We had a giant room, but it felt like a Travelodge on I-5 compared to staying in these lovely homes.

The hotel restaurant and bar felt like something out of a business convention nightmare, but we found a pub up the road still open and with interesting reviews and “the best log fire in Ireland”. It turned out to be only open for drinks, not food – a theme for this area that would come back to haunt us. Tonight we’d already had dinner down near Slieve League so could do without snacks/dessert, but the ambience at the Drift Inn was more like Joe’s Crab Shack! The fireplace was being hogged (and surely not the best in Ireland) and the d├ęcor was claustrophobic, but we decided to stay for a drink and then call it a night early. It had, after all, been a really big day. Ty tried gamely to talk up the local barstool warmer, but he wasn’t interested. We tried to talk to the bartender, and he wasn’t interested. Finally, as we were wrapping up our drink, they both decided to talk to us and it turned out we couldn’t understand a word they were saying, due to the thick Gaelic accent! But we felt loved by their efforts. We never got their names, but it didn’t matter, because, again, Gaelic.  

Just as our ears were starting to adjust and the conversation started to take off, a group of rowdy people roughly our age and roaring drunk butted in, adopted Ty (or rather, cuffed him about the shoulder shouting “what’s the craic?” to which Ty, not quite catching the words through the drunken irish tones, answered “I’m Ty!” which endeared him to everyone), and cornered us for the rest of the night. We were bought drinks, educated about all of their family in America (mostly in Chicago, but in case we ever met them… although they may be former neighbors with the priest who married Will and Keely? We didn’t have the heart to tell them there might be more than one priest by his name in California, and that if it was him, he was an ex-priest doing non-catholic weddings). We learned about their jobs, their drinking preferences, their kids, their childhoods (this group turned out to be two brothers and their wives who had all grown up together). I don’t think we’ve ever been privy to so much joyous drunken blabbering – half of which was too Gaelic to follow. Eventually we pulled away to try to get some sleep – after all it had been a big day. It still took a good half hour of extracting ourselves, but we had finally found the craic. Or rather, it had found us, and had us pegged in a fisherman’s themed bar in the tiny town of Buncrana on a Sunday night.

I can't find any photos from this day. But here's a nice one of Buncrana a few days later.
And another of various house-warming fuel options for sale at the grocery store. You can see the peat logs on the bottom right. 

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