This morning I returned to Galway after three enjoyable and relaxing days on Inis Mór. While I was there I didn’t have internet access, so it’s taken me a while to delete all the spam – both emails and comments – that’ve been flooding in. Of the 220 messages in my email inbox, only about 30 or so are genuine messages – this is a fairly typical ratio.
On previous holidays I’ve avoided computers altogether – I normally spend all day in front of one, so it’s nice to have a complete break from them. The disadvantage of doing this is that there are usually thousands of messages to sift through when I return home.
Anyway, back to my Inis Mór adventures. On the bus to the ferry, I got chatting with a bloke from Spain and a girl from Canada. They were sitting next to me and were babbling away in Spanish. I eavesdropped on their conversation, was able to understand most of it, and jumped in at a suitable moment. My Spanish grammar and vocabulary still need a lot of work, but I can at least conserve in the language, which is encouraging. Sometimes when I’m studying a language, I wonder if I’ll ever get to the stage when I can converse freely and fluently in it. When I have opportunities to use what I’ve learnt, I’m often pleasantly surprised by how much I can say and understand. For me, this makes all the effort worthwhile.
The ferry ride over to Inis Mór was uneventful – apart from a all too brief sighting of dolphins on the starboard bow, and a cameo appearance by a seal in the harbour at Rossaveal when we were just about to set sail. Quite a few jellyfish were also visible in the amazingly clear waters.
On arrival in Kilronan (Cill Rónáin), the principal settlement on Inis Mór, I wandered off in search of my B&B. After going in completely the wrong direction, several times, I eventually found it. It was quite a way from Kilronan up a substantial hill, but well worth the effort – the views along the way and from the B&B were spectacular, and the B&B itself wasn’t bad either.
I spent my time on Inis Mór exploring the island on a hired bike. I visited most of the sights, inculding the most impressive Dun Aonghasa, an ancient cliff-top fortress. My favorite place was the beach at Portmurvey – white sand, clear blue/green sea and hardly any people. Actually, one afternoon a large party of school kids showed up on the beach. I overheard their teachers saying that they were there to learn Irish. Some of them were talking amongst themselves in Irish quite naturally, others, the majority in fact, had to be reminded regularly to speak Irish rather than English.
One afternoon while sitting on a wall eating a banana outside the supermarket, I got talking to a couple of itinerant accordinists, one from Cork and one from Mayo. They were on the island in the hope of playing in one or more of the local pubs. Later that day I saw them playing outside a pub with some other guys and went to listen. At some point I mentioned that I play the tin whistle, and they insisted that I give them a few tunes. This I did, and they seemed fairly impressed.
Few of the people I met on Inis Mór were Irish speakers so I didn’t get to practise my Irish as much as I’d hoped. Never mind, I’m off to Glencolmcille tomorrow for a week of Irish language studies, and I know there’ll be plenty of people there to speak Irish with.
Time for lunch now.