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Ireland Archives - Away She Goes
Hurling in County Clare: Up the Banner!

Hurling in County Clare: Up the Banner!

Our first full day in Ireland turned out to be the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Championship, between County Clare and County Cork. As we drove west from Dublin to Galway, we kept passing cars decked out in blue and yellow flags. As we got to Clare, we started seeing homes with all manner of decorations. Since we were in Clare at the appointed time, our Vagabond guide, Wendy, asked if we’d like to stop into a pub to watch the match. This is a great example of the benefit of a small, personalized tour–they can be nimble in the way a large tour never could. Chatting with strangers in pubs while getting a glimpse of every day Ireland was really our top priority, so we were happy to go with Wendy’s improvisation. Like everywhere in Ireland, people were friendly and welcoming, answering all our questions about the sport. Hurling is like a blend of field hockey and lacrosse.  15 players on as side try to get the ball, or sliotar, through the uprights, either above the crossbar for one point, or below it for a goal, which is three points. They whack the ball with a stick called a hurley that has a bit of a clubbed end, which is scooped on one side. It looks rather like a field hockey stick. Wendy had gone over the basics of play and scoring, but it was interesting to learn more about hurling as a cultural institution.  Played for over 3,000 years, hurling is one of the Gaelic sports, governed by the GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association.)  All the players are amateurs (one...
Going Local in an Irish Pub in Dingle

Going Local in an Irish Pub in Dingle

From the beginning, the main goal of our family trip to Ireland, aside from great outdoor adventures, was to soak up daily Irish life. The Irish pub experience was a priority, talking to locals, buying rounds and listening to sessions of live music, whether traditional or contemporary. My dad and brother would have hooked themselves up to a Guinness IV drip if that was an option.  Luckily, Vagabond Tours focuses on local, small-town experiences and really allows travelers to direct the priorities of the tour, so we spent every night in one Irish pub or another listening to live music and sampling stout. Perhaps the best, though, happened completely by accident. We were in Dingle, an amazing little seaside town just over the Conner Pass. We started our night at a pub that many had recommended to us, but it didn’t take long to realize that the only Irish folks inside were working the bar or playing the session. It was a nice enough place and the music was great, but we didn’t come to Ireland to hang out with other Irish-Americans. Instead, we headed toward the infamous Dick Mack’s. All night I had been insisting that there’s no way an Irish pub of  such infamy would close early on a weekend, so of course when we arrived at around 10 or 11, the place was shuttered. Our hopes of Dick Mack’s smashed, we walked back toward our hotel, giving up on our plans for an Irish pub for the night. We met up with Kevin and Michelle, my brother and sister-in-law, who had gone ahead to scout seats...
Surfing Lessons in Ireland

Surfing Lessons in Ireland

Surfing lessons in Ireland? Yes, you read that right! On our way toward Dingle, Ireland we stopped in Castlegregory to take a surfing lesson. It was a dreary, disgusting day, and I was not surprised that only three of us wanted to go–my brother, one half of a nice young couple who got stuck traveling with us, and me. Luckily, our traveling companions were more than happy to cheer us on from shore and take pictures. Even in the cold, Brandon Bay in County Kerry is a lovely place to spend a few hours. It was cold and rainy, and I have a feeling we were warmer than them in our wetsuits and booties. The wind was so strong that day that I could barely get myself and the board to the water without becoming a sail and blowing away. Our instructor, Jamie Knox of Jamie Knox Water Sports, was very understanding with my brother’s and my status as complete beginners during our surfing lessons. He went over safety rules and explained a few different technique we would use, and focused on getting us in the water early and often, to make the most of our lesson. Both my brother and I have terrible vision (I clock in at -8.00) and I can’t imagine that helps us in our aquatic adventures. Kevin was flying blind, and I wore some outdated contacts. There were several times when Jamie would be gesturing and we just looked at each other and shrugged because we had no clue what he was trying to say, but nobody got hurt so I guess it turned out...
Sea Kayaking Dingle Bay: A New View of Ireland

Sea Kayaking Dingle Bay: A New View of Ireland

Sea kayaking in Dingle was one of the things the drew us to Vagabond Tours.  We are an outdoorsy crew, owning two canoes and a kayak back home.  We knew we were going to be sea kayaking this trip, come hell or high water.  It was also one of the keys to a successful family trip–you are who you are, no matter where in the world you go. Irish Adventures was right on the waterfront in downtown Dingle.  Our guide, Noel, was funny and informative.  He also took some great images, although he didn’t seem to understand why it would pain me not to be able to take them myself.  Someday, I would love to have a camera or rig that can survive sea kayaking, but this was not that day. A few people were in tandem kayaks, but most were solo.  There was a quick lesson and continued instruction for those brand new to kayaking.  Michelle was a complete newcomer to sea kayaking but she was able to learn the techniques quickly from Noel and had no problem with the paddle.  We paddled along the bay in search of the famed Fungi the Dolphin.  I had read about him ahead of time and my bullshit detector lead me to believe there were a  few dolphins off the coast and on the rare occasion one was spotted, they were called Fungi.  Or that Fungi was a bit like the Dread Pirate Roberts or a child’s goldfish, secretly replaced every time he passed on. It turns out there was no need for the cynicism–Fungi is the rare lone dolphin, and he...

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