August 20, Thursday
Night's Lodging: O'Mahoney's Hostel
I had the most delightful conversation with Paddy, our hostel owner, and in spite of my difficulty even with odd American accents, I could catch nearly all of what he was saying. He told me about his wife's recent return home from a Dublin hospital where she had undergone brain surgery; his daughter's return home from England with an 8 month old baby girl.
"They go away, and then the come back," he wisely counseled me.
He told me of his buying of this house two years ago from the Church of Ireland-it was the rectory; and his work down at the Glengariff ferry. We talked about the weather...it was overcast with patches of blue and the clouds looked to be moving our direction (east). He assured me that it wouldn't rain, at least not for a while. He ran one of the ferry boats, and claimed to be a weather expert. I told him we'd see him later down at the ferry. He was a flirtatious "old guy" with clear pale blue eyes.
Having had the chance to chat with him was what travel was all about for me. As tourists breezing through with tents or hostel stays, we tended to meet only other tourists. The joys of B&Bs were getting to meet (mostly) the locals. And this hostel was like a B&B, just most pleasant.
Paddy had a sheepdog, Shep, that he worked, keeping 200 head of sheep in the hills, saying that's about the minimum number you needed. The EEC paid them to keep their sheep, although the price of wool dropped from £10 to £5 and then down to £2 per stone weight (14 lb.) (1992) He also ran lambs for meat. Shep was a border collie - like we had seen yesterday - 9 or 10 years old, slowing down a bit. Shep lead the life of Riley as a sheep dog in near retirement. At night he slept curled tightly between the wall and desk, ignoring 15 noisy hostelers, eyes tightly closed.
(As I write, Paddy is playing in the living room with his fussy granddaughter.)
Down at the ferry to the island, Paddy took our boat fare. When Tracy asked about student rates, he charged us each £3 instead of the £4 tariff. I tried to give him back £1, "You gave me too much change."
"No, no," said he with a twinkle, "you're a student too. We're all students of the world," he continued, coming out of his ticket booth, looking very dapper with his captain's cap atop his head.
Ilnacullen Garden on Garinish Island. Boat across-wind whipping our hair. Small gathering of seals on the rocks. Odd! Seals in Ireland?
The Garden - huge rhododendron bushes which weren't in bloom, but burst forth, we're told, in floral glory in June. Many species of botanicals which we also had at home in California. Well designed. Round tower fortification-good view of Bantry Bay. Drizzly.
We all wandered around town-not much to see. One main street with a few pubs, a couple of B&Bs, a market, and tourist shops. Managed to consume nearly an hour dithering over what to do for lunch and whether to bike on or stay the night.
When we saw Paddy at the dock we told him he might have us for one more night. He seemed pleased. I need my off biking day. Tracy got depressed in drizzly cloudy weather, he said (new information to me), and wasn't too motivated to move on. Jack was always willing to get off his bike for a bit. Once we had rather decided to stay, I wasn't anxious to pack up and leave. I was mentally "put" for the day. However, our timing and time left was such that we would probably regret this lack of physical exercise - not biking on.
Glengariff wasn't the most exciting nor interesting place to kill a day. Cork would have been better. I got restless after having explored town and the Eccles Hotel (Queen Victoria); I found a hike to take into the hill area.
Rainy evening. The hostel was full and we had a tent village out on the lawn. Where there were four tents last night, there were eight. 15 folks were inside at £5 per person and £3 per person for tenting. In addition, another 50p for a shower.