Yesterday proved to be the highlight of the holiday. We'd held out all week for good enough weather, and finally yesterday it arrived. In the freezing cold sunshine, we drove a massive 2½ hours out to a village called Carrigaholt, on the south side of the Loop Head peninsula in West Clare, and took a boat out into the mouth of the Shannon to go and watch the dolphins. A first for all of us, and an amazing sight. We probably saw three or four pods, maybe twenty or so animals, with the most playful swimming alongside and then under the boat. But boy, you've got to be quick to see them - of course I was fully armed with camera, and haven't downloaded the shots yet, but I suspect that most of them will show a patch of sea where a dolphin was a split-second earlier! But hey, I took something over 200 photographs so I'm sure at least one will be good.
Despite the long drive, I made sure we got to Carrigaholt in good time, so much so that we had time for lunch beforehand, and the pub, the Long Dock, was well worth a mention. Coming in from the cold to a massive open fire, my liver and bacon was delicious. This particular pub has won awards and I'd have to say that the standard was excellent, especially so for a pub out in the back of beyond. But then Carrigaholt itself really was my kind of place. This is really desolate country, where the elements for sure dictate the pace of life. If ever I achieve my ambition of becoming reclusive (damn, I forgot to buy a lottery ticket again last night!) this is the type of place I'd be. (Well, maybe southern France would be in with a shout!)
So anyway, if you're ever in the area I can highly recommend a meal at the Long Dock followed by a trip out with Dolphinwatch - but make sure you wrap up warm!
We got back into Carrigaholt just after four (now that the clocks have gone back it is getting dark really early), and we were back in Dromineer for 6:30pm. While I think on, one surprise we did get yesterday was when the woman who runs the place came over and read the meter - a massive €70, for just a week's power. If ever there was a statistic to damn electric storage heaters, (we have used the oven a little, but only these god awful heaters and the immersion over long periods) this is it. But still, we didn't come on holiday to sit in the cold, so I had to cough up.
Overcoming my shock, however, we celebrated out last night in Dromineer by taking Alice out to the local pub for a meal. They had live traditional music on, which was excellent. Alice, of course, loves anything musical and protested quite strongly when, at 10:30pm, I said that we had to come home to bed. An excellent meal once again, but way too much. Poor old hostess looked offended when she saw than none of us had managed more than half of our meals, but what could we do? We needed to save some room for pudding!
Today I'm up early, the rest of the house is still in bed, because I wanted to get this entry done. Packing, for the most part, is complete, though the woman yesterday told us that there was no hurry to get out since we were the last visitors of the year. But in any case I'd like to set off sharpish since we've tentatively said we'll go to Cahir Castle, then have a look around Wexford on our way back down to Rosslare. We've certainly seen a lot of Ireland this week and I'd love to revisit at some point. Excellent.