Westport to Longford
6 Jul 2006
|We slept in until 10.30 the next morning after our Croagh Patrick pilgrimage. Our bodies exhausted after such a momentous effort. We also missed out on an intimate performance by Luka Bloom at Matt Molloy's the previous evening. Instead, after a delicious curry at John O'Malley's pub and restaurant (very vegetarian friendly with several options on offer), it was back to the hotel room where we stretched our aching muscles on the comfy bed and watched the DVD of 'The Field' that I had bought in Leenane.
After breakfast in the very warm hotel conservatory, we walked around the town for one last time. The coffee flavoured dishwater that was served with the hotel breakfast was lacking a certain ingredient (real coffee beans) so a stop at 'The Stuffed Sandwich' was required for me. A great sandwich café that also serves an excellent espresso and not only that but they use Fair Trade coffee which is a bonus as well.
Then it was back to the car park of Croagh Patrick where across the road in a park overlooking Clew Bay was one of best Famine memorials I had seen so far. As we drove into the car park, we marvelled at the height of Croagh Patrick and our achievement of attaining its summit the day before. Kevin the walking stick man was there renting and selling his sticks to a new bunch of Pilgrims. We watched them as they started the climb and wished them well, personally knowing what lay ahead.
The Famine memorial is an incredible steel sculpture of a 'coffin' ship (they called them coffin ships because of the amount of people that died on them while sailing for America) and it has ghoulish skeletons stretched out between the masts and along the helm. A frightening spectacle but as an art work, it was a wonder to behold.
It was 1pm as we drove back through Westport and even though we had planned to drive the long way home along the Mayo coast, we decided to leave that journey for another day and take the shorter inland route instead.
We were almost home when approaching the village of Tulsk I spotted a sign for a visitor centre and café. It turned out that there was a stone age Ring Fort in Tulsk and a Visitor centre had been built nearby. The Irish countryside is literary littered with Ring Forts but they are mostly grassed over humps in the middle of farmer's fields. Fortunately this one was being excavated by a large group of archaeologists and we were able to walk up close to their diggings. There we saw the remains of a stone tower base and ramparts that they had already uncovered.
We knew we were back in County Longford when the sweet smell of pig slurry suddenly descended into the car and up our protesting noses. That stuff should be banned I later said to our friend Derek Craig, a part-time farmer but I suppose it is good for the soil.
"No, in fact, it's not." Derek replied. "You see, these days the pigs aren't fed natural food so the slurry actually kills the worms in the soil."
I didn't speak them aloud but my thoughts were, 'well if the pig excrement kills the worms, what is the bacon and ham (the flesh of the pig) doing to the people that eat it?'
Ignorance is bliss...until it sneaks up and kills ya!