Republic of Ireland - Round The World Tour 2 2003 Day 176

Athenry

Thursday 4th September

I had originally thought that we would stay a second night in Doolin but the weather was once again overcast and drab and we didn’t feel much like spending the entire day just sitting in the brick, slowly getting bored. We packed up, said goodbye to our Welsh neighbours and off we set in the general direction of Galway. Since we’ve decided to stall our progress northwards in favour of a trip across the country towards Dublin, it seems that Galway will be the last of the major towns that we will hit before reaching the nation’s capital. The main reason for this change in direction is because we are planning on leaving the island of Ireland via Belfast, as this will provide us with the shortest and most direct ferry route to Scotland. If we continue north, we would reach Northern Ireland before Dublin and then would have to back track.

The town of Doolin is actually a bit scattered. Individual houses are strewn all over the countryside with two main streets over a kilometre apart. After we left Doolin, twice, we drove towards Lisdoornvarna where we were going to track down the spa wells. A couple of people have told us about these spa wells and how the minerals in the water are so good for the skin and so on. When we got there, it was a major disappointment. I imagined something like a large, open-air, spa pool of warm water into which we would sink but the closest you could get to the spa water was in a bathtub with the cold water from the spa diluted with warm city water. Not at all what we were expecting. The spa complex also looked quite run down and sorry for itself and the whole idea seemed to just lose its appeal once we arrived. Oh well. There was a sing posted referring to some re-building of the site that was in the works so perhaps it will look better in a few years from now.

Onwards we plodded, then, towards Galway through a region of the country called the Burren. The Burren is a geological feature that was made millennia ago when the crust forced huge hills of rocks upwards. Instead of rolling hills of green countryside, the Burren consists of rolling hills of rocky outcrops and escarpments. There are no trees and barely any shrubbery to be seen and the whole area looks quite odd. The place is riddled with walking and cycling trails but you’d need to be quite fit to make it up and down all the hills (well, up anyway). When we reached the coastline again, there was a Burren visitor centre and we were initially going to go in and see the exhibition and audio-visual display. However, the absence of ready cash soon put an end to that idea. Instead, we made lunch in the car park and were shortly thereafter on our way through the remainder of the Burren and ultimately into Galway.

We weren’t just aimlessly heading for Galway. For the past couple of days now, a toothache has increasingly afflicted Sandy and we were going in search of a dentist to have a look at the problem. Galway was the nearest place to us that is big enough to actually have a dentist. The first place that we tried was unable to squeeze any more patients in for the afternoon but the nice receptionist was good enough to go through the local yellow pages to track down a few more options for us. We ultimately were able to book an appointment for this afternoon at one of the dentists in the middle of town. It turned out to be the dentist capital of the region with a cluster of about five different dentists' surgeries all within a few doors of each other just off the main shopping parade in town. Perhaps the competition will drive down the cost of whatever work Sandy needs having done. Wheel clamping seems to be a popular pastime for the local parking authorities in Galway and we had to stop at the local tourist information office to get advice on where we could and could not park the brick. Luckily, we were directed to an open-air car park just around the corner from all the dentists’ offices.

After a bit of a wait in the waiting room (isn’t it always the same), Sandy went inside to see the dentist. She came out just a few minutes later having already been given an anaesthetic injection in preparation for the replacement of a filling. I don’t do dentists very well and we both decided that it would be best if I would venture out into town for a half an hour or so whilst Sandy was being taken care of.

As it happens, Galway was good to me. Much like all the other major towns, it has its own charm but otherwise not too dissimilar from the next place or the previous. The exception was that I was finally able to find a DVD shop which had my long sought after Star Trek Deep Space 9 season four box set and I snatched it off the shelves having given little thought to the price tag – ah, remember the good old days when I used to do that sort of thing regularly without a second thought.

I returned to the dentist to find Sandy still in the chair. After another half an hour, the wait was over and out she came, still a bit slurred from the anaesthetic. I paid the €90 bill willingly. Had we been in America, it might have cost this much just to get through the bloody front door. We then went back into town to pick up some food supplies and were soon bidding our goodbyes to Galway. We are now going to spend the next day or two driving clear across the country to Dublin. We may stop every now and then at the odd castle or other historic attraction along the way but I suspect that we will reach Dublin in good time. We managed about half an hour on the road before we reached Athenry where we are now parked for the night next to what looks like the ruins of an old abbey. We will inspect this more closely tomorrow morning along with the Athenry Castle that is also just around the corner.

Now, I must finish the remaining episodes of DS9 season one before we can begin to enjoy season four.

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