donderdag, januari 25, 2018

Adventure in Ireland (1979), part 2

Thursday 12th July Delphi – Aasleagh Falls: peat whiskey and a horse with nettle rash
The trip to Aasleagh Falls was beautiful too. We went through the Bundorragha Valley to Killary Harbour. The river is famous by its beauty and the fly fishing possibilities. However, we did not have a fishing permit and we were to busy to reach our next destination without accidents.
On our way we passed peat fields where the Irish cut the peat to supply their necessary fuels for the cold winter. They still use the peat in the whiskey distilleries to refine their whiskeys. Years later, we became true peat whiskey lovers, especially of single malt from the Scottish islands (Skye), but the Connemara whiskey was also very tasty. 

Bundorragha Valley
After leaving the valley we reached Killary Harbour fjord, a fjord of 16 kilometres long and in the centre over 45 metres deep.
On this road we met a lot of coaches again, whose passengers wanted to take pictures of us.
We had a nice ride and reached our recommended stop Aasleagh Falls, near Leenane. The stop was situated near the road and not far from the falls.
Killary Harbour
Killary Harbour
Killary Harbour view of Leenane

Aasleagh Falls
We met a couple and they were very worried about their horse. It had nettle rash and the leather of the breeching touched open wounds. They had tried to cover the wounds with a bandage. Besides the trouble with the poor horse they had a flat tire. They needed help from the base in Westport. Fortunately there was a telephone in the neighbourhood. They called the base. Later we heard, that they had to wait for 4 days before the help arrived.

On the background the falls
Discussing the horses situation
Drinking Irish whiskey
Peated Single malt

Friday  13th July Aasleagh Falls – Letterfrack: Judy has a new habit
All in all we had enjoyed some nice days in beautiful surroundings. The recommended stops however were very poor and the only thing that was well arranged was the facility to put up the horses.
We left the other couple with their poor horse in Aasleagh Falls and started a ride through the heart of the Connemara. We hoped that Friday the 13th would not bring bad luck. But first we visited the shop in Leenane to buy necessary supplies.
Judy had a new habit. She followed the other caravans very close and sniffed at the gas canisters. It was a little dangerous, because the distance between the caravans was to short now.
The Connemara was wonderful, rough and with spectacular views.

Halfway the route Judy decided to take a break. She took us to a place with a parking, a tearoom and a petrol station. We did not have plans to stop there, but Judy was used to stop there on her route with other guests and she did not walk any step further. So we had to stay till the queen of horses was ready to go.
We left the petrol station behind us and passed Kylemore Loagh (Lake) and approached what is now the Connemara National Park. It was founded and opened to the public in 1980. It features 2,957 hectares of mountains, bogs, heaths, grasslands and forest.  The entrance of the park is situated south of Letterfrack.

The Connemara National Park picture 2009

The description of the recommended stop in Letterfrack was promising. There would be shops, a singing pub and a restaurant.
When we arrived at the stop, we noticed that the fence of the paddock was in a very bad condition. The stop belonged to the ‘Bards Den Pub’. The manager of the stop, Mr. Sommerville, advised us to put a rope on the legs of the horse, so that she couldn’t run away. We thought that would be rude and instead we repaired the fence. There was no water or grass for the horses, so we gave Judy dry horse food and water.

Saturday 14th July Letterfrack:  the ghost horse and pub stories
The next morning we did not see Judy; she was gone and had destroyed the fence. We searched everywhere in Letterfrack, but we found no sign of Judy.
After a while Mr. Sommerville came to us and told us, that Judy was seen at 9.00 o'clock in the morning in Leenane, 20 kilometres back.  We took a taxi and on our way to Leenane we met two families with horse caravans. They told us, that our horse was found at Aasleagh Falls and taken to the grass field there.

In Leenane we called the headquarters of C.H.C. in Westport and they promised us to bring the horse to Letterfrack because they did not allow anyone to ride it back. The horse was a draught horse, not a saddle horse. A Dutch girl on the stop in Letterfrack had already promised us, if necessary, to ride Judy back, but we heard now that it was forbidden.
We took a taxi to Aasleagh Falls to see of Judy was alright. She was enjoying the fresh grass and seemed to like the company of the other horse, the one with the nettle rash. We drove with the taxi back to our caravan in Letterfrack.
In the afternoon we called from the pub to C.H.C. and we asked them at what time they would bring the horse. They told us that the horse was our responsibility and we had to bring it by ourselves. Now we were suddenly allowed to ride the horse. We both have no horse riding experience and the Dutch girl was not in Letterfrack anymore.
We told the story to Mr. Sommerville and he called to C.H.C. They promised him to transport Judy in a trailer and they would be in Letterfrack the next day around noon.

We did our shopping and bought fresh meat. We used the grill in the caravan for the first time and we had a really nice meal.
That evening we visited the singing pub and it was very Irish and we enjoyed the music. The Irish are good story tellers and they love ghost stories. Everybody was talking about the ‘horse from Letterfrack’ that was spotted in the middle of the night on the road from Letterfrack to Leenane. The Irish thought that the lone black horse with her rattling horseshoes looked like a ghost horse.
A poor Irishman came to our table and told us how to become rich. I had to cut my hair and Jan should sell it. I also had to make all my own clothes and shoes and he had a dozen of other tips to get ‘rich’. As I told before, Ireland was very poor in those days and these Connemara people had no idea how we lived in Amsterdam or in any other large city.
At the end of the evening, at closing time, everyone sang the national hymn and we went to sleep in our cosy caravan.

Sunday 15th July – Letterfrack: Sunday Roast

On Sunday afternoon no trailer appeared with Judy. Mr. Sommerville tried to reach C.H.C., but he had no success.
We hoped to prepare a nice Sunday dinner with the rest of the fresh bought meat. The meat however was decayed and smelled terrible and we had to go the pub for a dinner.
We had a lovely Irish evening in the pub again and we hoped that on Monday C.H.C. finally would bring Judy back.

Monday 16th July – Letterfrack: a nice 24 kilometres walk

On Monday morning there was still no sign of a trailer with a horse. We called to Westport and a staff member told us, that the horse was our responsibility. We asked if the fence of the recommended stop was our responsibility too. He laughed a little and gave no answer to this question. We took a taxi again to Aasleagh Falls and took Judy from the grass. We had to walk back with holding Judy on the ribbons for 24 kilometres. Of course Judy wanted to take a break at the petrol station again. Because we were so tired of walking, we could use the break too.
That night Mr. Sommerville put a rope around Judy’s legs. We did not sleep well with that thought on our minds.

The ghost horse has found fresh grass in Aasleagh Falls

Tuesday 17th July  Letterfrack - Aasleagh Falls: horse flies

Because we had lost so much time, we couldn’t finish our route and started our way back to Westport.
This was the 6th time we drove this route: the first time with Judy and the caravan, then three times by taxi, one time by foot with Judy and now again with Judy and the caravan. It is a beautiful route, but this was a little too much.
Sitting behind a horse’s back, has different disadvantages. As I told you before, we were sitting in a nasty wind, because of the effect of the horse food on Judy’s stomach.
Another problem was caused by the horseflies. We all got a lot of bites of these insects and had to scratch all the time. The most of us did not look too good at that time.
We arrived in Aasleagh Falls without problems.

Wednesday 18th July Aasleagh Falls – Cushlough: Judy shows a will of her own again

Finally we drove an unknown route.
The route was not too bad. We made several stops and took photographs.

Lunch break
30 years later we drove the caravan route by our own car.
We decided to stop at a beautiful place. I took pictures of a picturesque ruin. When I was back in the Netherlands, I discovered that this was not the first picture I took there. Judge the next pictures.

1979, 18Th July

2009, 27th July

The recommended stop at Cushlough was at the opposite of a pub and a petrol station. It was just a parking place next to the road. We were allowed to use the toilet facilities of the pub and there was a little shop.

We tried to turn the caravan, to put it on the parking place. Judy however, decided it was enough. She was hungry and did not move a leg any more. Jan had to enharass her and to feed her. Then we had to place the caravan on the right place on our own. The caravan was standing across the road and the few cars that passed had to take the drive of the petrol station.

Parking place Cushlough
Parking place and pub 2009 with our Honda
Judy after her refusal

We met other Dutch companions and that night in the pub everybody heard the story of the famous horse from Letterfrack that now had refused to set another step, before she got her food. The Irish visitors of the pub loved the story.

Thursday 19th July Cushlough: day of rest and Irish songs
The presence of a pub with live music, a little shop and good company, those were the reasons to stay for another day in Cushlough. We spent two lovely nights in the singing pub with Dutch and Irish company

Friday 20th July Westport: Judy spurts for home and a dinner with Irish Coffee
Finally the day arrived to go back to Westport base. We loved to see the Niks family again and we were very curious how they had spent their time.

(N59) Moyhastin

On our way to Westport, we noticed that Judy was in a hurry. Normally Jan or I held the reigns and the other walked beside her. But she walked faster and faster. It looked as if she spurted for home. Jan decided to join on the caravan seat and then we got in a dangerous situation. Judy was not walking anymore, but started running. We had reached Westport, a little village, but with a lot of traffic. She did not care for right of way and ran the road she knew so good as fast as she could. We did not need a map; she was on her way to her stable!
We were very relieved when we reached the base without accidents.
At the base the Niks family was waiting for our return. They had hoped that we would arrive at Thursday and they were a little bit disappointed. Then they heard that we spent two nights in a singing pub and they thought we deserved that after all those anxious adventures.
It was party time now for all of us, and they had reserved a table in a cosy restaurant.
We enjoyed dinner, we shared the stories of our adventures and at the end we all drank Irish coffee (to be honest, Jan’s  Irish coffee tastes much better!).
They told us, that the horse caravan company had offered them to stay the week in a cabin at a lake with fishing possibilities. The last weeks they had stayed in the broken horse caravan at the base of Westport. They already had heard the story of our run away horse of other people.
We promised to keep in touch, when we would be back in the Netherlands.

Saturday 21st July  Westport – Amsterdam: an amused Dutch taxi driver
The last day we had to pack and after that we had to wait for the coach, to bring us to the airport. There was a lot of talking and laughing and we all were a little bit tired of all these adventures. We discovered that on Friday night the caravan company had picked up the people who could not drive back, because of damage of the caravan or other reasons.
Maybe we should have finished our planned route too and then have called that we could not make it in time!

Unfinished route
Caravans back home
Car to pick up broken caravans
Ready to leave
Chatting and laughing
Jan with one of the ladies of the ditch
Jan and Ellen
The sleepy coach driver

Finally the coach driver of the first day arrived and he took us safely to Shannon Airport.
On the airport we met the Prim Eire hostess. We told her about our complaints and we asked her, why we could not reach her. She told us, that we should have called her in the evening and not during the office hours, because she gave us her private number. She did not give this information when we arrived the first day in Ireland.
We told her that we intended to suit the company, because we were not able to complete the caravan route, as result of the accident with the stampeding horses.
We had a good flight and arrived late that night at Schiphol Airport.
From there we took a cab to Amsterdam. The cab driver asked us about our holiday and we told some of the stories. He could not stop laughing and asked us if we needed a holiday now, to restore from our holiday.

Aftermath: Arbitration Court in The Hague
The next day I had a driving lesson. My instructor was very frightened. I drove with the Toyota Corolla through the narrow streets of Amsterdam, without looking if there was enough space. He told me to be careful.
But I thought it was possible to drive these alleys with a caravan. The car was so much smaller. During the lesson I looked with the eyes of a horse caravan driver.
Fortunately I drove at the right side of the road and I used the break, instead of calling “Stop Judy “.
Narrow streets near our house in Amsterdam

On the 25ThJuly 1979 I sent a complaint to the Dutch Arbitration Court about the travel Agency Prim Eire. I had to go to the court the 28th November 1979. The court spent the whole day with complaints against Prim Eire. I expected that Prim Eire had to defend herself, but that was not the case. I had to defend myself.
I received a letter on 18th January 1980. Prim Eire should pay us 435 guilders (197 euro). We had have paid 1864 guilders for the journey (846 Euro), which was a lot of money in 1978. Prim Eire finally paid the money in June 1980.
We kept in touch with the Niks family and visited them at their home town Arnhem. Joop had made films and we have watched them. Those were very nice to watch. We all looked as gypsies with our horses and caravans.

I thought it would be funny to make a board game of our adventures. So I did and I sent a copy to our travel companions. You may find the game at the end of this story.

2009 Back to Ireland
I don’t have to say that Ireland did not make a positive impression. Jan proposed several times to go back to Ireland, but it was not attractive for me anymore.
Finally in 2009 I submitted under the pressure. We travelled to Scotland and took the ferry from Stranraer to Belfast and stayed in Ireland for 4 weeks. This time we made a large tour with our car and caravan and we enjoyed it very much.
We loved Ireland so much that we returned in 2011 for another 4 weeks.

Route 2009
Jan in 2009

Game of the Goose

Geen opmerkingen: