We boarded the bus at 9 a.m. and have pretty much been on the run ever since. As our Travelodge didn’t have a breakfast, we drove to a hotel in Clare that was on the way for another rousing Irish breakfast. That food almost makes it worth getting up early in the morning.Then on to the Cliffs of Moher, about an hour away. Another soft day, so the clouds were low and the mist high. All shades of green on the hills around us, and large patches of the bright yellow furze bushes (previously referred to in the blog as “gorse”—it apparently has different names in different countries.)
We were intrigued by the old ruins that are standing in pastures, by homes, in the middle of golf courses, next to modern buildings—they are seemingly everywhere and anywhere. We also quite liked the highway built fairly recently that diverted around the fairy tree. The engineers thought the road should go through, but the construction workers thought not. It is apparently not wise to anger the fairies in Ireland, and they like to gather at that tree at night.
The ground grew more rugged as we approached the Atlantic coast. I loved all of the breeze walls made of slabs of stone that are simply stacked on each other with no mortar, which allows the strong winds to blow through without ripping them apart. And let me tell you, there are strong winds! By the time we walked up to the top of the overlook by the Cliffs of Moher, it was difficult to stand upright at times. The wind was even able to splash the surf over the wall at one point, and the ocean really wasn’t that close. And it was COLD. Getting back on our coach was a relief.
We stopped in Ennis for lunch, which not one of us really needed after that breakfast. But who can really pass up the chance to try new foods? Cute town, too.
After a brief photo op at Bunratty Castle, known for the banquets it hosted in medieval days, we came back to our hotel long enough to change and head back out to the Millennium Theatre at the Limerick Institue of Technology.
Finally, our first concert not involved in the festival. Our host treated us so very well, and we rehearsed and then had a delicious dinner of Irish stew, this time made with lamb. With the equivalent of three concert programs from which to choose, Dr. Staheli is able to tailor the program to the hall and the audience. The concert was a good mix of serious and lighter music that the audience seemed to truly appreciate. All three graduate students conducted, as did Sister Hall. The applause was generous and enthusiastic at the end, and the choir sang an encore.
Singers mixed with the audience after the concert, and it was humbling to realize how very far many of the audience had come to be there. I met people from Cork and Galway, each about 90 minutes away. There were 20-25 nationalities there; Ireland is quite diverse these days. It was wonderful to sing a concert again, and great to meet with some LDS members and the missionaries who were there.
Now we are back in our rooms, with some making phone calls home (I hear them in the hallway) and others packing so that we can get the bus loaded first thing in the morning.