Wednesday, June 13, 2018

the windy gap...

Day 6, Sunday. After the usual breakfast, we are bussed to  the head of the trail for a hike to the Windy Gap which is between the two highest peaks in Ireland. In case you are wondering, windy gap refers to the weather conditions, not the shape of the trail. For a change, the day is coolish, about 15C and overcast, perfect hiking when you are going to be ascending some fairly steep inclines. This is the hardest we’ve worked yet - MAO (yours truly) is definitely huffing, puffing and red in the face but maintaining her place in the lead group and very glad of the cooler temperatures!  Our trail is a combination of small rocks and a lot of animal droppings, mostly sheep and horse - have to watch your step! The views are amazing and there is no vehicle traffic here, only on foot. We are travelling through farm country, plenty of sheep, a few horses but we don’t see any farmers - there must be another way to access the fields by motor vehicle. 12km later with a ‘bring your own’ lunch break we end up back at the highway and our coach/bus driver transports us to the Red Fox Inn for a pint reward. The pub has a big screen tuned into a ‘hurling’ match, the Irish sport that has been played for 3000 years. We are all enthralled! It seems to be a combination of soccer, lacrosse, and football, with a little hockey, played with a small ball like a hard baseball, a wooden stick with a scoop-like end and 15 players per side. It was very exciting to watch and try to figure out what was going on. Lots of action, plenty of body contact, no protective equipment except small helmets, and  some spectacular-looking athletic moves.
Back in Killarney, after a brief rest, we walk to our group dinner to another local pub/restaurant, Treyvaud’s.  The menu has another Irish food item that I’ve been hoping to try, ‘colcannon’ which google tells me is mashed potato with any variety of cabbage, kale, onions, scallions with lots of cream and butter. It is paired with meatballs and a tomato based sauce. Janet had that (it was good - I did get a taste of the colcannon, yummy) but I chose Irish bacon in mustard sauce with cabbage. Mine is actually ham - I thought it was going to be like our pork belly but no, though it was saved by a really nice mustard sauce, and the cabbage was steamed only and rather yucchy- not what I was imagining, but there was bread pudding for dessert!

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