Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Going West

I spent the Easter weekend in Sligo on Ireland's West coast, home to wild and dramatic scenery, neolithic sites, surfing, and shockingly bad boy bands such as Westlife and Boyzone...

It's a good place to do much and nothing at all, so in between long lie-ins and reading on the cane sofa looking out at the sea I managed to fit in horse riding, a boat trip, shopping, bar-haunting and a few decent walks.

Sligo is somehow quaintly rugged. A very short drive from the rocky, windswept beaches will take you to a 200 year old stone and thatch pub, where the decripid looking picture of Jesus is barely visible in the dark, damp inside. You know you're in a 'real' pub in Ireland when there's no stereo system, only silence waiting to be filled by singing old men red with whiskey, or the sound of fiddles on an occasional Trad session.

There's another rather old pub near Sligo which (at least in theory) simultaneously serves as a convenience store and undertakers, and the hooks from the ceiling serve as a reminder of its old days as a butcher shop. I was a little disappointed to find that the can of condensed milk that had been tempting me all night on the shelf was actually not for sale, but rather for decoration. Still, the Guinness was good.

It had been awhile since I last rode a horse. There's nothing quite like galloping along a beach at full speed, even with a creeping hangover and the realisation that this is the first time to do real physical exercise in actual years.

I left feeling very relaxed and happy to have seen a bit of this beautiful part of Ireland.

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