Just recently I stood on a wind swept hillside where neighbouring hills faded in and out of view because of the fine rain and mist, this was the middle of July in the wild and beautiful location of Connemara on the west coast of Ireland, jump into the sea here and your next stop is America. It’s a scary place, the kind of location much loved by Alfred Hitchcock and the people who made the ‘Hammer Horror Films’ They lived their own real horror here during the great hunger of the 18 40 's A music hall balad about these times is familiar to me and my brothers, it's called Dan O' Hara about a man who is destroyed by the famine.
Imagine my shock to find that he was a real person, it was all true, the old man sang this maudling balad but we never thought it was real. My brothers were astonished to get a post card showing the 'Dan O' Hara' homestead and history museum, they laughed themselves silly over this, for my part I was amazed when I found the place.
We were out on the hills on a tour and the land 50 yards behind you could disappear quite quickly, from where we were the guide told us that an area quite near was where Alcock and Brown landed on the first flight from America to Europe, landed in a Connemara bog no less, with minor injuries, these guys were the Marco Polo’s of their time and courageous doesn’t begin to describe them.
In Connemara and nearby Galway you can find out all about the first transatlantic flights in flying boats, the aviation history of the area is fascinating, we visited ’Moynes’ on the Shannon where the first European terminal was located because of the river and surrounding hills which kept the water calm, you can wander around a huge flying boat at the museum which is a must see.
The lady curator spoke to us over tea and she bemoaned the past style and adventure of the flying boats.
I was able and delighted to tell her that the flying boat had made a come back in Glasgow, I told her of the admittedly small craft which flies between Cambpbeltown and Glasgow she was delighted to hear this and said she would include it in their literature so, I’ve helped our tourist industry.
During our excursion to Connemara we were shown a demonstration of ’turf cutting’ which serves as fuel in these parts it takes hundreds of years for turf to be ready for cutting and burning and the excavations sometimes turn up other fascinating vegetation. On this occasion a ’Red Oak’ had been exposed and uncovered, it looked like a fallen tree anywhere, until the guide told us that experts from Dublin University had used carbon dating techniques to determine that it was 5,300 years old, a chunk of it by accident fell into my pocket and is now in the house, I will clean it up and label it, I will go back there some day.
I think I prefer that holiday to lying on a beach, 1 ½ hrs. later we were in several Galway pubs listening to the music and supping beer, you should go there some time.