Saturday, August 18, 2007

the land of little green men, part six

day six: of pottery, poetry, and potatoes stuffed with salmon

our first stop this morning was at the ulster american folk park in county tyrone. the park focuses on the emigration of thousands from ulster to north america in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. in addition to several displays housed inside the museum, there are also a couple dozen buildings outdoors, which illustrate the way of life for both the (mostly well-to-do, from the looks of things) ulsterians (is that a word?), as well as the new americans. the star of the park was financier thomas mellon.

three residents of the ulster american folk park

the park was neat, but the two and a half hours we spent there was about half an hour too long, as evidenced by the large crowd waiting for the bus long before our scheduled departure time.

we stopped in belleek for lunch and a tour of the pottery factory.

lunch was excellent, though under slightly cramped conditions. after walking up and down belleek's main street, mama and i settled on dining at the thatch coffee shop.

i can't remember what mama had, but i had a very reasonably priced baked potato with smoked salmon and "seafood sauce" on top (i'm guessing it was some sort of ketchup/mayo/lemon juice sort of concoction), as well as a small side salad and coleslaw. i'd worked up an appetite, so i basically hoovered my food down, then wandered over to the factory for the tour. mama stayed behind, enjoying her pot of coffee (they didn't serve guinness), and still made it to the factory in time to join the second half of our group on the belleek tour.

the last stop before heading to our hotel in castlebar was at drumcliffe, burial site of the poet w. b. yeats. in addition to being yeats' final resting place, drumcliffe is notable for its irish illuminated cross, which dates back to the 11th century, as well as a round tower dating back to the same period.

after spending a few minutes wandering around the grounds and taking pictures, i decided it would be a good idea to make use of the facilities, which featured all of the necessities, except two out of the three stalls were missing toilet paper. since i'm occassionally sensible and industrious, i got the bright idea to wait for the stall with paper to open up, grabbed a handful, and then toted said handful into one of the undersupplied stalls. others followed suit, so maybe i'm one of those "natural born leaders" after all. (yeah- doubt it)

our hotel for the evening was breaffy international sports hotel in castlebar. it was easily my least favorite of the hotels we stayed in during our trip. the hotel was the latest addition to the breaffy house hotel complex, and had obviously opened very recently, as the trim in our room was unfinished and kinks still needed to be worked out.

this was also the first time i'd encountered an electrical system that required insertion of the room key into a slot in the wall for any of the lights or outlets to operate. had mama not encountered this sort of setup recently, i'm sure i would have wound up either calling the front desk (a lesson in futility, as we learned when we requested a sewing kit for our room), or showering in the dark.

this problem resolved, mama and i got settled in before heading to the restaurant for dinner, a journey that took slightly longer than expected, because mama got turned around somehow and tried to lead me to dinner in the small sports arena attached to the hotel. (thankfully, she'd straightened out her sense of direction by her third guinness of the evening, eliminating the need to dispatch a search party.)

dinner was good, though many in our group had issues with being served on couches. i can't recall exactly what i had for dinner, though i'm quite certain salmon was involved. each table also had a large bowl of veggies, which went untouched by many. (it was hard to witness such waste.) mama and i wiped our bowl out, and omehow still had room for dessert.

after dinner, i headed over to the breaffy house hotel, where rumor had it, they had free internet.

was it free? yes. did it have the lightning-fast speed of roadrunner? uh, not so much. it tok me half an hour to send three short emails. fortunately, when i went back an hour later, someone had restarted the computer, and it no longer took five minutes for a webpage to load.

so much for the plan to launch my very own pay-per-view website from the road.*

in the next exciting installment: i find the perfect gift, though i can't figure out how to haul it home without breaking it, travel all the way to galway to eat at mickey d's, and launch my musical career.

*calm down, daddy- i'm only kidding


Kal said...

Sounds like a cool trip so far. Wicked jealous...

just some dude said...

Sign me up for that pay per view site! You know, if you really weren't kidding. ;-) Sounds like a great trip, I'm jealous.

duff said...

kal: just wait- by the end of the day, you'll be able to feast your eyes on the gift i would have gotten you, had i been able to figure out how to get it back home.

just some dude: as far as all of my relatives are concerned, i was totally kidding. however, since the situation at my full time job has gotten a little distressing........