Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Warm Velkommen

We started this blog as a bit of a travel journal for us to write together... to capture with words and images the adventures on which we hope to embark, and the Adventure of life which we have chosen to share. In the ensuing year (the first one, I'm told, is the hardest... which is strange to me. It seems like the last one would be the hardest), we have not had the money or time to really enjoy as many adventures as we had hoped, but our Adventure has been both stressful and rewarding. We have nearly opposite work schedules, we have a five month old puppy which we adopted three months ago, and we are still figuring out the best way to get through, but every day brings a reminder of why neither of us would want to try this without the other. I mean, honestly, if I tried to do this alone, who would make sure my bills were paid, and there was food in the fridge... and if she was alone, who would... I don't know... bother her all the time, or.... um... oh, who would put the pillow under her knees and get her a glass of water every night? (fair trade, right?)

So, to celebrate the successful completion of one full year together, and all of the learning, loving, and growing we've done together, we decided to take off for Europe for a few days. Then we remembered we're struggling newlyweds with a bouncy pouncy puppy and figured it was better to just go to Solvang.

We occasionally have difficulty finding leisure activities that suit both of our tastes. I like beer, she likes wine. I like Star Wars, she likes Sweet Home Alabama. Even food, which is a passion for both of us, can be a problem, considering I'm mostly Irish and Scandinavian, and she's mostly Mediterranean. Compromise is really what it's all about... so I'm glad that she's willing to do so much of it, otherwise this would be much more difficult for me. We got engaged and married in the mountains, honeymooned in Ireland, went to an Irish Rovers concert and Solvang for our first anniversary... I guess our next stop should probably be Italy or Spain if we're going to balance the scales a bit here. Or maybe I'll just pretend I haven't noticed this trend and we'll hit up Iceland next.

Solvang really is a bit of a compromise for us though... not in the sense that either of us is giving up anything in favor of the desires of the other, but in the sense that there is plenty to accommodate our often differing tastes. And, in any case, it really is enough to just have the time away together.

Having not taken the travel journal with us, I'll only be able to summarize the trip a bit, but I don't expect that will offend many of you.

It's fortunate for us that almost everywhere in and around Solvang is dog friendly (though the hostess at Firestone Walker brewery in Buellton seemed confused about what that term meant when I called, "Um... I don't... let me ask my manager............ we can give you food to-go and then you can eat it outside with your dog, if you want."), and most of the places we wanted to visit were open on Mondays and Tuesdays, which we did not expect.

We stayed at Wine Valley Inn, went to Zaca Mesa, Fess Parker, Coquelicot (pronounced CoKleeCo), and Roblar wineries; ate at Cecco's, Paula's Pancake House, and Solvang Brewing Company, and fairly well enjoyed it all. I should note, however, that while the beer, atmosphere, and staff are all very pleasant indeed, as was most of the food, the mashed potatoes felt and tasted like they'd come out of a Stouffer's frozen meal. There was absolutely no substance or flavor to them apart from the gravy which was in too poor supply to cover the potato's inadequacy. Everything else on either of our plates was borderline incredible... and the Julefest ale tasted like Christmas and felt like magic. I'm pretty sure it's what Santa gives the reindeer to make them fly.

I've heard it said (though I can't remember, and you probably don't care, by whom) that marriage is a constant learning experience, and I learned two very important things on this trip. Firstly I learned, or rather confirmed an earlier suspicion, that we were incredibly fortunate with the puppy we adopted. She is adorable, intelligent, loving, sweet, obedient, and is only becoming more so as time goes on. We had her off her leash at two different wineries and she would walk beside me when I asked her to, or would sit and stay until I called to her. Everyone was surprised that she's only five months old, considering how well behaved she is. She has a little trouble listening when there are squirrels around, but other than that she's pretty much the perfect dog. Secondly, I have learned that I have nearly forgotten how to talk to anyone about anything aside from my dog. I'm going to be one of those parents. I understand that no one cares... no one wants to hear about how smart or cute your kid is, or, if they do care, they don't fully believe you. And that's fine. They don't have to. My dog is cuter and smarter than yours just like yours is cuter and smarter than mine (only mine really is). I suppose, considering I've never really been good at conversation as it is, and I don't like sports... I really should figure out some other topics for small talk if I'm ever going to be a tolerable human being again.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Fare thee well, sweet Anna Liffey


I can no longer stay... though not for lack of desire, or lack of trying. I kept telling our hosts that I wanted to live and work here, asking if they knew anyone who needed someone with cooking or construction experience. Nothing. 
This morning, wouldn't you know it, Dublin gave us snow as a parting gift. Unfortunately, it was not enough to keep us from taking off. We are now in the air. Having just taken our last glimpse of the southwestern coast we've come to love so much, we are officially out of Ireland. But, I think, Ireland will never be out of us. As the song goes, "No time nor tide, nor waters white, could wean my heart away..."

Ireland, I've heard, is called a country of poets, priests, and warriors... And how could it not be so? How could a person write of Ireland without it coming out like verse? The land writes the poetry, and we have only to record it. How could a person see this land, and breathe this air, and not feel called to worship, and thank God for His blessings? How could a person have this country and it's people in their blood and not be so passionately disposed toward them as to be willing to fight to keep them? I believe that the reason the Irish are so notoriously unfortunate is that God realized he'd already blessed them too much by making them Irish, and he had to balance it out somehow. Whereas, the English were blessed with the ability to build an empire that spanned the globe (granted, the Irish sort of did the same, only through infiltrative breeding instead of conquering and subjugation), but God balanced it out by making them live in England. And, being ever jealous that we got the beautiful island, the personality, and the good looks, the English spent most of their time trying to kill us. 

I'm glad that I seem to have received different traits from both the English and Irish parts of my heritage. From the Irish, I've inherited a love of the land, alternating passion and stoicism, the aforementioned good looks, a love of music and literature, as well as a taste for good beer and whiskey, and a, "treat me well and I'll treat you well, leave me alone and I'll leave you alone" kind of attitude... And from the English I've inherited a desire to travel the world, and a desire to claim Ireland as my own. 

As the sun began to rise over California, I was sitting in the air somewhere between Iceland and Newfoundland... Either of which would have been more favorable for me than my actual (though temporary) destination... New York City. I wondered if there would be anywhere to get some good salsa during our layover... but, given that we had been in a rush checking in at Dublin, we did not think, until out over the Atlantic, that we should have had the agent check us all the way through to San Diego. So there was not likely to be a chance for salsa hunting. I guess we'll just have to settle for Pace Picante when we get back. 

Despite a few misadventures, not having enough time or money to do everything we'd want to do, and the sneaking suspicion that tour guides and Bed & Breakfast owners kept intentionally sending us to places where they knew we'd meet more American's than locals, we found the Ireland we had hoped for... and I think talking with Americans (and playing a little bit of country music on the drive back to Dublin yesterday) helped Erika fight off homesickness. I'm going to have to find something to help me with that when I get back to California. I just hope I'm not all like, "I just can't use Irish Spring deodorant anymore. It doesn't smell anything like the real thing." Y'know? I did get a kick out of the traditional Irish band the other night playing a Celtic version of Jimi Hendrix's "Foxy Lady" though. Oh, and, for those who are interested, we did not see any leprechauns (barring the fat Asian guy dressed as one at the hotel bar last night), but we did see more than a couple rainbows. One actually led us right to Dingle Brewing Company. Oh, and no pots of gold either. I think that may have been something the Irish came up with (much like the Mayans, or the Incas, or whoever it was, with their El Dorado story) as a way to distract stupid foreign invaders. Only, unlike El Dorado, the pot of gold was probably less of a "go searching way over those mountains instead of trying to kill or enslave us" thing, and more of an "if they're busy chasing rainbows, we won't have to share our delicious, delicious, whiskey or beer with them." I'd make up stories about leprechauns too if that was the case. 

After our brief and salsa-less stop, we took off from New York with a plane full of people who seemed happy to be heading to San Diego, and it feels very lonely. And what a place to stop off on the way. The only way I can think of for New York City to be less like Ireland would be to move New York nearer the equator. There is no gradual acclimation here, no slowly getting used to coming back to city life, no time to let the delusions and dreams fade out, and the cold realities seep in. Close your eyes on rural green pastures, open them on the stark grey expanse of man's supposed dominion over the earth. As we swiftly slipped toward the clouds, which hung over the city without touching it, as though not wanting to dirty themselves upon making contact with the urban wonderland, I gazed out across the city which so many seem to love (at least, according to the t-shirts) and it made me glad to know that there are so many people who would prefer this over my Ireland... That they would probably be bored by my Ireland... Because if they are happy to keep their New York, they are less likely to ruin my Ireland. And just before I caught  my last glimpse of that famous skyline cutting like a saw blade into the grey murky sky, I couldn't help thinking two things: first, I thought how much more fortunate I am than Irish who made their way to New York throughout our history... And second, I thought, "Hey, Spider-man lives down there."

Slainte, Happy Saint Patrick's day, and Eirin go bragh. 

The Rocky Road to Dublin

The sun coming up to the left of us laid it's first fingers on the hills across the bay as the fishing boats headed out to work, sliding across the top of the peat steeped water, leaving it looking like glistening crocodile skin in their wake, but bringing about no sign of the lone dolphin who has, apparently, made these waters his home for nearly thirty years. The locals all wonder why an animal that typically travels in packs would suddenly break off, and choose to live the rest of his life in Dingle Bay... But I know why...
As the sun arced higher through meandering wisps of cloud, it strikes a light on the trail of simple white farm houses that line the one road on the peninsula across from us, and I am reminded that Nature's first green is gold, and that it is her hardest hue to hold. Just like Erika and myself on this wet and rocky lump of paradise, nothing gold can stay.

I'll see you when I close my eyes
and in my own reflection.
My face, though vacant in disguise,
will, on further inspection,
bear the map that leads me home
to these far rocky shores.
My mind will sail across the foam,
My heart is ever yours.

The drive back to Dublin felt like the longest drive of my life... including the time my best friend and I drove from Missourri to California in just over twenty-four hours without stopping except for gas and food. Though it only took about four and half hours, it seemed I had eternity to contemplate what I was leaving, and what I was leaving it for. Really, if not for the fact that,after two weeks of spending Euro's while also not earning any dollars, I am in dire need of more money, I don't think Erika could have brought me back to Dublin.
Now that we're in Dublin, we are both exhausted, and ready to leave. We got to town with plenty of time to gas up the car (by the way 1.55 Euro per litre ends up costing $107ish to fill up. Ridiculous.), check into our hotel, return the car, then head to Temple Bar to meet up with my friend Forrest and his wife, who came over from Scotland to see us... or, at least, it SHOULD have been enough time. Just finding Agassi station in Dublin (without running over 10,000 drunken Saint Patrick's Day tourists) was enough of an adventure... Then we spent two hours or so with the hotel, trying to get them to give us the room we had booked. After we got that all sorted, and took the car back, we asked the lady at the hotel desk where we could find an ATM. A ten minute walk in roughly 39 degree weather (Fahrenheit), then ten minutes back to catch a bus into city centre... which did not work because ATMs only give out bills like 20's and 50's, and the bus only accepts exact fares, and only with coins... which the lady at the desk was kind enough not to tell us when we asked for the locations of the ATM and the bus stop in the same breath. So we started walking, hoping to get a taxi along the way, but none were lit up. By 9:45 we decided it was not going to working, meeting up with Forrest and Sami, who had arranged to meet us at the Trinity Bar at 6:30. I'm sure they still had a good night, but ours did not go at all according to plan.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


Remind me (or don't since you probably won't have to) to look into minimum wage, unemployment rates, and cost of living for Dingle and the surrounding area. If we were to open a pub/B&B/Sheep farm, this seems like a great place to do it. We could be the place that all the locals send the Anerican tourists "looking for an authentic Irish experience" to keep them from crowding the places where the locals like to hang out. I could even do my best Irish accent and the Anericans wouldn't be able to tell the difference.
I have absolutely fallen in love with the Dingle peninsula... which is unfortunate because the twelve year old boy in me still wants to snicker every time I say Dingle. We met an older couple last night who are from Washington D.C., but spend about half of their time in Ireland, and most if their time in Ireland is spent in Dingle. In talking about Slae Head Drive, they told us, "It's about a one hour drive if you don't stop, but you want to allow for at least two." I think it took us closer to four... Mostly for the same reasons that this entry could just as well be titled "Jacøb takes pictures of rocks and sheep while Erika stays warm in the car." The benefit of being the driver is that you can stop to take pictures of whatever you want to.
We saw what our tour book told us is the far western edge of Europe and, in fact, by all appearances, it may well have been the western edge of the world. Soft green and gold sloping hills veined with an irregular geometry of stone walls on the right side of the valley were met and echoed by the gradual slopes on the left. The only note able difference between the slopes to left and right was that where one set would crest and roll, leading off to more hills or valleys, the others ended abruptly and dropped off into the emerald blue waves, as though perhaps phantom hills still remained on the other side of the salty mist, where the ghosts of long dead sheep and farmers may wander through eternity beyond space and time. I wonder how it must have looked when these hills were complete, when the nearby Blasket Islands and Skellig Michael were part of the landmass. Was there a time when these hills sloped peacefully down to meet the sea, or have they always been such strong opposing forces?
More than any place we have yet been, this peninsula hurts to leave so quickly. It has sunk it's roots deep into me, and I pray continually that I will soon be able to repay the favor. We plan to save up, and return in 2018, but I'm not sure that I can last that long.

We stayed at Greenmount and Pax Houses here on upper John Street (so named, I think, because everyone running a Bed & Breakfast here seems to be named John), both of which are wonderful. I don't think either proprietor has taken me seriously when I said I'd trade places if they wanted to take a break and go to San Diego, or that I hoped to be their competitor soon. I regret not bringing copies of my résumé like I'd talked about. Not that it would have got me a new job, but I might have built contacts, in case we ever do move over here.

I have not done spectacularly well at abiding by all of my own rules of travel. I'm getting better though. The rules (more like guidelines, really), at least what I have so far, are:
1) Seek adventure.
2) Avoid the familiar (particularly when it comes to food and lodging... Unless you are familiar with the local specialty).
3) Fear no conversation.
4) Eat or drink at any pub, bar, or restaurant which bears your name (first, last, maiden, mother's maiden name, grandmother's maiden name if you wish).
5) Take it slowly.
6) Try to blend in.
7) Don't be afraid to look like a tourist when you don't know where you're going.
8) Get lost.
9) Eat, drink, and shop local.
10) Relax.
11) Document it to remember it better.

This list may need to be added to or honed, and I will keep working to perfect it. Obviously, there are items on the list that are easy for me, but not for Erika, and some that are the opposite... but I think we are working on that.
I am not good about starting, joining, or maintaining conversations. Erika is much better. Today, when we went into a local bar/hardware store/bicycle repair shop and a local man (are they called Dinglers Dinglites?) named Kevin started talking to me, despite the fact that I really was interested in getting to know him, and hearing what he had to say, there was a fight within me to keep from cutting the conversation short. Fortunately, Erika returned from the ladies room and by the time I came back from my trip to the restroom, they had a conversation in full swing, which took us from family to farming, to pubs, to locals and tourists, to pubs, to church (which took us back to pubs), to Saint Patrick's Day, and many other topics. When I told him where I thought my family might be from, he called me "a mean Cavan bastard" (which I like. I might put it on a t-shirt), when I told him I want to move here and start a pub, and raise sheep, he told me everything he knew on both subjects. If not for my wife, whose gifts are different than my own, I would miss out on much of what makes life full... and for that I am more grateful than I may ever be able to show.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

My green Heaven.

Just like I'm having trouble deciding which has been my favorite town, I cannot figure out which has been my favorite portion of the drive. I would ask Erika, but she ends up sleeping through sections which strike me as being among the most beautiful and interesting. And I'm not complaining about doing all of the driving, I honestly don't mind it, and I know it wouldn't be good on her back... It's just a shame that the person who's free to look around and take in all the sights is also the person with nothing to occupy their mind and body (like driving) and, as such, is more likely to doze off and miss the views.
We drove the inland portion of the ring of Kerry, and finally did a bit of hiking. Inside the National Park, we came across Torc Waterfall. A beautiful, multi-tiered display of natural power, I could only imagine the ferocious glory it's ivory cascades must exude when the snow is melting off of the surrounding mountains, filling it's crescent track to the brim. I wish that I lived near enough to see it in all seasons, and devote more time to hiking it's winding trails. If I were to stay a year, I would surely find the time to wander the full length of the trail from Kenmare to Torc. After all too brief stops at Muckross house, Muckross abbey (or cathedral... I can't remember what it was called), and Ross Castle, we were on our way... not because we were rushed, and not because they weren't each filled with enough beauty to spend a day discovering and still have more to find... but because we couldn't do the tours (which are the only way inside Muckross house, and Ross Castle), and because we seemed to be chased by a very large tour group of Canadian high schoolers. We will come back, and we will go on those tours... and maybe take a Jaunting Car tour around the grounds.

The angels charged with orchestrating the welcome to Dingle must have been hand picked by God as the best of the best, because I have never seen, except in dreams, a more beautifully crafted depiction of Heaven than when we rounded the mountain and caught our first glimpse of Dingle bay. The rolling, wandering grey and white dappled clouds overhead seemed to mirror and mimick the mass of contented sheep speckling the hills on all sides, as if God had called his flock to the lushest of the pastures of the sky, and set them to graze in lazy unhurried joy... The hills and meadows before us, with the ancient forest to our backs, spread out like a blanket on an unmade bed, in shades of green too vast and numerous for words, and too intricate and soft for any camera lense to hold. But it was the bay herself... the bay set the tone of the welcome chorus that sang through my eyes to the depths of my soul. She spread out before us with the narrow end point toward us like cupid's arrow taking aim at my heart, with the cloud greyed sunlight shimmering across her waves like silver chainmail, and across the mouth of the bay, where the clouds parted to make way for the setting sun, was a brilliant track of light on the water like the fiery blade of a golden sword barring the entrance to my green Heaven... like that sword of the angel left to hold Adam and Eve back from the entry to Eden.

To Leave the Land I Love

My soul is forty shades of green,
my heart is rolling hills.
My blood, it flows like sweet potcheen
from secret peat-fired stills.
My mind is filled with stories, full
like whiskey in the jar.
Why must I, from this country, pull,
and leave behind my heart?

~ Jacøb Smith.

To sum up: Doolin to Dingle

We've made our way to Dingle Peninsula. From the west coast in Doolin, where we went to the top of the Cliffs of Moher, visited Doolin Cave, traveled round The Burren, dined and listened to trad music at 0'Connor's pub, we headed southwest through Cork, to Kinsale. Kinsale was part of a wine fleet that transported wine from France and Italy to other parts of the world. So if you know me at all, Kinsale would be my favorite town. It being a wine port, how could I not fall in love!? Unfortunately, the castle containing the wine museum, was not open this time if year. Thus making our trip back in 2018 that much more necessary. We enjoyed our stay in Kinsale very much. I was grateful we found a B&B that was open and had availability. You see, as we made our drive into Kinsale, we drove right through a mild snow storm that followed us all the way into town. When the locals are taking pictures of the snowfall just as you are, you know it's a rare occurrence. We settled into our B&B, I took a shower and we sipped on cider before we headed out to dinner. We got a few recommendations and found ourselves at the White House. An excellent pub/restaurant/B&B that served amazing seafood dishes and of course my new found favorite, Bulmers Cider. I believe Jacob already posted about the Americans, so I'll skip that. We turned in fairly early in hopes for a somewhat early start the next day. We wanted to tour the town a bit before heading out to Kenmare and we needed a post office .....which ended up being closed. However, we did find a chocolatier, Jacob bought a new flat cap, and I got a wool throw blanket. We did the most shopping we've done so far, in Kinsale. I loved this little town and can't wait to go back. There were many places we saw and plenty more we would love to discover! We got on the road around 12:30 (earlier than our past departure times) and after a couple of detours, thanks to our gps Garwin, we were finally on our way! Traveling through beautiful countryside and mountains dotted with snow, we eventually made our way into the small town of Kenmare and checked into our B&B, Riverville House. It was just off Main Street right along side the river. We had an excellent dinner that night, no live music that evening and we turned in pretty early. Our drive from Kenmare to Dingle was pretty pleasant. It wasn't as far as other drives and it was all scenic. We took the northern part of the ring of Kerry, through Killarney National park. I'm glad we took this route for two reasons. 1, it was shorter, so it wasn't an ALL DAY drive. And 2, the scenery was gorgeous! We stopped to view Torc Waterfall, Muckross House & Gardens, Muckross Abbey, and Ross Castle. Torc Waterfall was stunning. I imagine even more so once the snow melts and sends the water careening down the mountain. We, or I should say Jacob, took plenty of pictures from all views/angels of the waterfall and down the mountain overlooking the lake. We dint hike all the way up to the top. Jacob went farther than I did, I didn't want to slip and fall on the muddy trail. We skipped the tour of Muckross house and the gardens. Mostly due to time, but also because we had already visited the beautiful Victorian walled garden at Kylemore Abbey. The grounds around Muckross House were quite beautiful though. And we will be returning because the Traditional Farm was closed during this time of year, and we'd like to go back. We didn't tour Ross Castle, because we didn't want to arrive in Dingle to late. However, we did walk around the grounds and along the water's edge. The tour did seem pretty awesome, so we will have to go back to do that. Finishing the drive through Killarney, more countryside and mountains, we found ourselves in Dingle Bay, and we arrived at Greenmount House around 5:30. Stupid Garwin got us on a bit of a detour, again. Thankfully it didn't get us turned around much and we were already in town like we needed to be. I love Dingle. It's a bigger town, compared to Kinsale and Kenmare, but it still has a small town feel. From what I gather anyway. We are having a bit of a lazy day, cozy'd up by the fire at Greenmount House. I'm enjoying the relaxation and not being stuck in the car. Dingle As I look down from Greenmount Upon the harbour scene, I cannot but stand still and gaze At beauty all men must praise. The tourists speed on road below And miss what now I see; A little town at the water's edge Sheltered by hills serene. Brandon and Blasket beckon on, They call and call and claim A rugged and splendid shore and sea And, yes, they deserve that fame. But see, the harbour, the pier, the hills, The church, the road, the streets: Are the cradle, the nurse, the place, the scene Where the father first called me to be. Sr. Canice Barrett


It is growing increasingly difficult to decide which town we will be moving to when we come back to Ireland. We are moderately sure it will not be Dublin or Cork, and almost certain it will not be Galway... But between Westport, Connemara, Doolin, Kinsale, Clonakilty, Bantry, and now Kenmare, every town we come to provides a hundred new reasons to stay, as if we needed them. If we had a month to tour the five south-western penisulas, and $500 a day to spend doing so, the money would be sufficient, but the time would not. Next time we come out here, I would like to rent a house (as would Erika, I know) and spend at least three weeks taking day trips out to tour every penisula, and being able to stop whenever we wanted.

The air was crisp, though by no means frigid, as we walked the streets of Kinsale this morning, soaking up it's seaside charm, letting the welcome sunlight melt the cares away as it melted the night's residual snow from it's few remaining shady foot holds.
One day proving to be at least two too few, we did not leave til 11:30, if it was even that early. Having told the lady at Rivervill House in Kenmare, we'd be in around 4:30, and then leaving so late, meant only one short detour, and very few stops... which did not exactly fit the schedule I had in mind. My schedule started earlier, had a little less walking around Kinsale, and included the Ring of Beara, and the great Blasket Island. Due to weather, all sailing to the island was closed... Not that it matters, since we left too late to make it out to the peninsula. The good thing is that we're giving ourselves things to do on our next trip out here. We will have to do Beara, and Healy Pass, and Blasket Island when we return or move here. From what I've heard about the island, nobody lives there anymore, but the town remains. It was once the home of a village of incredible story tellers who only spoke Gaelic. When a couple of guys came over from the main land and helped them translate and record all of their stories in English, they almost instantly became the people group with the densest population of published authors in the world. I cannot personally vouch for the quality of any of the stories, or the writing, but regardless, that's pretty impressive.

Along the drive up to Kenmare, though we didn't take "the most beautiful drive in Ireland" (as the Welshman at The Old Presbetery Bed &Breakfast called the Beara peninsula), we did take in our fair share of beauty. We even stopped off to see Drombeg stone circle. The portal stones (essentially the entryway) stand almost as high as my shoulders, with the stones decreasing in height on both sides until they get to the low point, opposite the portal stones, where a wide flat stone stands to about the bottom of my rib cage. The two bowls carved into the top of this stone lead historians and archeologists to believe this circle to have been of Druidic ritualistic and sacrificial use, and the bones of a small boy, found in the earth inside the ring, seem to confirm this speculation.
About thirty yards distant, in the same field, sit the foundations of two small huts. One is a typical circular stone hut, with nothing unusual or extraordinary about it. The other, just down hill of the first, has it's floor dug almost two feet down into the turf, and a stone hearth raised up on the uphill side. Where the small stream that crosses the boggy field trickles up to the hut and across the floor, there is a trough cut, leading into a two foot by three foot rectangular stone basin, dug deeper into the floor. The plaque on site says this would have been used for cooking, brewing, and bathing (though not at the same time). The basin would be filled with about 27 gallons of water, while rocks were being placed on the hearth to heat up. When the rocks glowed red, they would be moved into the water and, after about 20 minutes, would bring the water to a boil... Keeping it hot for about three hours. Then they could remove the block from the downhill side and all of the water would flow back through a trough into the stream.

We did make it to Riverville House in Kenmare, though we were about 45 minutes late. It's a cute house, and Margaret is very kind. Kenmare, with it's two organic grocery's, weekly farmers market, and two vegetarian cafes, might be where we have to move, if we want my family to visit or join us. Maybe we could buy a large house here and start a Bed & Breakfast/Brew pub with +Benjamin Englesmith  and +Jaason Englesmith  that would feature standard Irish pub and B&B fare, as well as vegetarian and vegan versions.