Sunday, July 08, 2007

Ireland- Day 8- Connemara and Killary Fjord

This day was rainy and cloudy for most of the day. It was still pretty warm though, so I didn't complain. Our first stop was the Celtic Crystal Factory. A lady much like a Catholic school nun (I can say that. I went to Catholic schools!) gave us a tour of the crystal work and then led everyone to watch the actual creation of a piece. I skipped that part so I could see what I wanted to buy. Sadly, I didn't find anything for me. This place is different from most crystal factories because they use color in their crystal. The work and detail is so strenuous on the eyes, the guys can only work on a handful of colored pieces A YEAR.

Next stop was the Connemara Marble Factory. Again I skipped the presentation and went shopping. I managed to find several things I wanted, but my purse wouldn't let me get everything. So I settled for a few worry stones (one for me, one for my CP and one for my Christmas bag for my local RWA gift exchange), a pair of earrings and a necklace of black marble with Celtic designs.

After the marble factory, we drove through Connemara. The scenery was by far the best! Hills, rock fences, lush green grass, mists. Apparently it's really poor farming land, but words and pictures can't do the scenery justice. I only took one picture because we stayed in the bus and I wasn't sure if the pictures would come out. Just imagine miles and miles of this scenery.

We also took a catamaran cruise along Killary Harbor, a 9-mile fjord. It was cloudy and breezy when we got there and it rained while we were on the boat.

On our way back to our Galway hotel, we stopped at a peat bog. In Ireland, they don't call it peat. They call it turf. Our guide explained the history, uses and process for gathering turf. This was an interesting part of the afternoon. I've read a lot of historicals with references to peat bogs and I did research on peat bogs for my last manuscript, so I was thrilled when the guide pulled over to the side of the road and let us get out to explore! A bunch of us did so, along with the guide. We picked up pieces, jumped up and down on the turf (it felt very springy) and listened to more stories. I confess I went a little camera crazy, but I won't bore you will all of my peat pictures. Just a few. This first one is our illustrious leader and another tourist.

Dominic told us when they cut the peat they have to leave it on the field to dry. To protect it from the weather, they stack it in a special way that protects most of the bricks. The picture with the feet shows this. It may not look like it, but there is a method to this madness!

This last shot is just to show you how it looks before they cut it.

From there we went back to our hotel for our dinner. An older lady joined us and talked quite a bit about Irish culture. She lives in Dublin and often takes these tours. She'll pop into the tourist office one day, find out what tours are happening and she's sometimes off the day after that! (What a life, huh?) Anyway, she taught me how to pronounce some of the Gaelic terms I've seen so often. We invited her to the bar with us after dinner, but she declined. Another evening mixing with the locals, sipping pints of Guinness and watching soccer. (I'm pretty sure I had at least 2 Guinness drafts a day!)

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