Large campervan, small ferry

Trip Start May 30, 2010
Trip End Aug 15, 2010

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Flag of Ireland  , Donegal,
Monday, June 21, 2010

We're camping on a beach on Aranmore Island off the western coast of County Donegal. On the mainland we drove through a crazy jumble of rocks and sea called The Rosses; impossible to believe that anyone would build a road through that!  On a whim we decided to see if the island ferry from the coast of The Rosses could handle the camper van—and it could.  We were wedged onto the ferry with a Land Rover, a small car, and a tiny track-hoe.  The ferry maxes out at six or seven small cars.

Andy was at first quite disappointed with this island.  Skellig Michael made him think that all islands off Ireland’s coasts would be desolate, extremely steep, and wild.  Aranmore Island has a solid wall of cliffs on its west coast and a peak in the center at 700 feet, but the eastern coast where the harbor is alternates cliffs and beaches.  We drove to the south coast and turned off the tiny road onto an even narrower one, heading for a second harbor and a road that is paved with asphalt but covered with sand.  A few boats have left the harbor this evening, though I count five fishing boats at anchor now.

My view as I write is of the sunset over the mainland visible across the channel.  The mountains rise very near to the sea in County Donegal, emphasizing their relief.  The sky is pink and gold below the blue and then a band of purple and gray above the horizon.  The only sound is of the waves lapping against the beach and seagulls crying.  I heard one bird whose call surprised me.  It was larger than a seagull and its cry sounded like a dog.  In fact, while I was outside walking I turned to see where the dog was and watched the birds coasting above the end of the island.

The weather is unusually mild:  blue skies and no rain for us since last Sunday in County Wicklow.  It’s great weather for a holiday but not so great for Irish farmers.   After a horrendous winter they’re having a drought this spring.  We’ve seen dry potato fields with tiny plants that should be much larger.  Andy and Liam appreciate the mild weather; they consider every beach a giant sandbox for their castles, towns, and roads.

Note added later--Coming back on the ferry was even more crammed!  This time there were five cars and the camper van. The ferry skippers are master packers.  There was less than an inch between our right side and the car next to us.  I couldn't believe it.
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