What made the garden feel particularly authentic was this roundhouse reconstruction, which had been a project of Martin's. This was the first time he had seen it in a completed state.
Here are the images of our party taking the bog-oakwood throne in the garden:
At a small headland was a craft and gift shop. I was interested to see how local craft products were branded and promoted. There was a large selection of woolen goods so I took photographs of some of the labels. Here and at other woolen outlets we were to visit, it was clear that the locally-made or Irish-made goods were promoted at a premium and badged accordingly, but little or no evidence of that the wool had come from local sheep. Even this label is carefully worded:
We were now tracing a route along the serrated Atlantic coast. We stopped at a stone jetty and went beachcombing. In my excitement of being once more on a tidal shore I found an old canoe helmet and put it on. Immediately I was almost overcome with a nauseating smell of rotting excrement. A brown semi-liquid slime oozed from the helmet, into my hair and on to my shirt. I quickly plunged my head in the sea and washed my hair, removed my shirt and washed that, too, until all traces of the evil ooze had gone. Resuming the beachcombing, I found pieces of calcified seaweed, and along with Gille, a host of shells and pebbles. These were items to contemplate. Two flashbacks occurred. One from an old Donovan song (and this area was somewhere he knew well), and the other, more coherent, from William Blake.
"little pebble upon the sand,
now you're lying here in my hand,
how many years have you been here?"
"to see the world in a grain of sand
and a heaven in a wild flower,
hold infinity in the palm of your hand
and eternity in an hour"
Before we left, I was able to sit on stone steps and watch the tide in flood. The quiet suck and swell of the limpid water reminded me of seeing the sun glinting on a painted clinker boat moored to a similar jetty in Kinsale harbour. The spooky thing about this was that I would only have been about seven years'-old.
Our next stop was not much further on in the fishing village of Roundstone. I was enchanted by the lines of a traditional boat in the harbour. After a conversation with a fisherman filleting his catch on the deck of a small modern trawler, I discovered it was a Connemara hooker. He had his own smaller version alongside, so invited me aboard for a closer look. He explained that the Galway and Connemara Hookers are regularly raced in regattas along the coast. His boat was at least a 100 years' old, but just about every timber had been replaced.
Our stop for the night was a guesthouse in the town of Clifden. I sneaked out quickly to find a bar, live music and a TV showing the World Cup England/ US match. We only managed a draw after our goalie's mistake, but I enjoyed some good-natured banter with visitors from San Francisco. It was remarkable to find so many people of different nationalities in this place. Later, Martin and I went to see and hear a live band in another bar. This was grungy blues crossed with Van Morrison. It was impossible not to dance to it. By their last number, they were playing from the bar-top. I suppose the soaking I received on my walk back to the guesthouse in the pouring rain was a good way to cool-off and draw a stimulating day to a close.