Monday, 24 September 2007

The Emerald Isle

We have just spent the weekend in the west of Ireland, where counties Roscommon, Sligo and Mayo meet, in order to visit Mrs F's relatives. It was a fascinating contrast with Bury. Right from the start the land seemed greener. Here is the M11 above and the land around Knock airport below.
From the start everyone was friendly and helpful. This nice man at the Hertz desk greeted us with a cheery "How are ya?" before insisting on writing out the most detailed directions to our hotel in Swinford.

Having been quoted what we thought was quite enough for Kelly's Gateway Hotel (based on glossy pictures of its interior on the web) you might imagine our disappointment when we arrived.This didn't appear to be the luxury we were forced to pay for because there were no other rooms available in the area.

But appearances can be deceptive. Inside was a completely different story:

Service was also good. Here is cheerful Claire.

Below is Durkan's Bar in Balaghaderreen, where Mrs F spent happy hours as a child. In those days of course children were not allowed in pubs in England, so this was a special treat.

I decided to treat myself whilst there, to the obvious drink of course! (Mrs F was driving.) She had her turn back in a bar in Swinford, as you can see. There is a funny story about this bar. On Sunday at noon we thought we'd go for a farewell half, but by ten past, none of the many bars in Swinford was open. I asked a man why, and he immediately took us through a back door into a bar full of drinkers who had not just arrived. It wasn't until later that we discovered the opening time was 12.30pm!

No it's not Mrs F's aunt waving goodbye, but one of several street statues we saw. Here the plaques explain:

This part of Ireland is very reminiscent of rural France, much of it run down. Here is one of many boarded up shops of the sort that people so dislike in Bury.

And here is a thriving establishment with the most dubious car sign in Gaelic and English. Click on the picture to read it.

Follow that!

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