boats in Galway Harbor
Irish castle


Arrival (1995)

Shannon was the easiest and fastest airport experience I’ve ever had — customs and baggage (re)claim included. We found our rental car, and laughed, and got in. It’s a teeny little Ford Fiesta, which barely fits all our luggage. But this is actually a good thing. G’s reaction, faced with a steering wheel on the right of the car and instructions to drive on the left, was hilarious. (Granted, at that point, having gone for 36 hours without sleep, everything was hilarious.) But he dealt with it adeptly and we didn’t have any collisions.

We decided to head for Ennis, which had been highly recommended. The problem was that despite our mini-library of assorted guide books and maps we didn’t have a detailed, small-scale one, and signs here are, well, a bit vague.

We started looking for B&Bs. Both our sources agreed on a couple we were seeking. But there didn’t seem to be any road signs in Ennis at all, so trying to find them based on the descriptions in the books proved impossible, persistent though we were. At length we asked directions, were told “just take a left at the little white house down a ways and you’ll find what you’re after,” took a left and got lost all over again. We saw one sign that looked promising. We parked in the wrong driveway and had an argument with a very yappy little dog. The proprietor of the B&B, which was full, kindly told us of another, the Avonlea, “just a stone’s throw from here,” where we could get a room.

After a cup of tea and a chat with the owner of the Avonlea, Thomas, a sweet old Clare native, we headed for bed, to nap for a couple of hours. It was 10:30 am. We were going to use the afternoon to explore the amazing limestone landscape of the Burren.

At 3:30 (three hours later than we’d planned to wake up) I tried repeatedly, groggily and with mounting frustration to turn off the alarm on G’s watch, before realizing that it was the phone that was ringing. And, as G explained carefully, it’s a very good watch, but it doesn’t have any effect on the telephone.

Later we returned for a quiet night, to look over books and maps and get some ideas about where to go next. G, try as he might, couldn’t get his bedside lamp to work. (He’s been having difficulties with small mechanical things, like door keys and bank cards and money machines. But getting accustomed, and learning from experience.) An hour later, when he got into bed and winced, I assumed it was a little chilly under the sheets. Quite the opposite, in fact. His lamp hadn’t worked because he’d plugged in the electric blanket.