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Having made it back to the Kilrush Farmer’s Market, I made a point to bring my camera along and was happy to find that the chickens I was so delighted to see there a couple of weeks ago were back! And, although I again controlled the urge to buy a hen, I came a bit closer this time and bought some fresh eggs from a boy who appeared to be about the same age as Eoin. As professional and businesslike as this young man was, he was still a boy, and I watched as he eagerly pushed forward a particular half-dozen carton, which he seemed to favor, trying to sell it to an elderly man who was ahead of me at the stand. I noticed that the carton contained an oddly shaped egg prominently perched at one end. However, the man didn’t acknowledge the boy’s hints and instead took the carton closest to him. When my turn came I couldn’t resist the boy’s enthusiasm for this particular half-dozen. He inched the carton toward me and though he didn’t guarantee it, he told me that the oddly shaped egg might contain a double-yolk! He said this with the bright-eyed enthusiasm of a child who is not yet bored with the subject of double-yolk fresh eggs, in spite of having to sell eggs at a farmer’s market stand – and probably help gather them in the morning.

Well, as I had promised Eoin earlier in the day, for dinner that evening I made him a bit of an Irish breakfast of eggs and black and white pudding. Of course we had to use the egg with the potential double-yolk and as I got ready to crack it open Eoin stood watching hopefully – and with the same enthusiasm that his peer exhibited when selling it to me. Unfortunately, all this anticipation was rewarded with only a single yolk.

Sometimes an oddly shaped egg is just an oddly shaped egg!

The picturesque Carrigaholt Post Office.

With a birthday card to mail, I decided to take advantage of a mild, if still overcast day, earlier this week and chose to drive a bit into the Loop Head Peninsula to the small fishing village of Carrigaholt, thinking that Eoin could go seashell hunting on the Shannon shoreline that lies within view of the picturesque Carrigaholt Post Office and the attached Dolphinwatch office. While Eoin wandered down to collect shells, I went ahead to post my card. Having already made the acquaintance of the amiable postman, we exchanged greetings as he processed my card. Looking around I saw a few people mulling about, mugs in hand browsing the large selection of books, pamphlets and odds and ends that surround the small, crowded room with the service window. I asked if he had fired up the espresso machine that he hadn’t plugged in last year due to the thin crowds of people. He said no, but that he was serving herbal tea. So, never one to resist an opportunity to turn an otherwise humdrum errand into a pleasurable experience, I requested a cup of peppermint tea and spent some moments of leisure sitting at one of the tables in front of the lovely stone building, surrounded by pots of flowers, sipping tea and listening to the cool jazz emanating from outdoor speakers. Meanwhile, Eoin enjoyed searching for a 10-year-old’s treasures along the quiet shore of the River Shannon. I call that a win-win situation!

If you look across the bay into the distance, between the flower-pot on the blue bench and the green post box, you can see the ruin of Carrigaholt Castle, built around 1480 by the quarrelsome McMahons, and full of the ghosts of a very colorful and violent history. I thought how strange, all these centuries later, that I was sitting there within sight of those empty windows, peacefully enjoying peppermint tea from a flowery mug, cool jazz filling the air.

When we arrived home tonight I turned off the car and we sat parked in front of the house listening to this beautiful song playing on the radio, while gazing out across the misty bog just as the grey of the day was darkening into night. It always amazes me just how perfectly Irish music fits with the Irish landscape.

Yes, we had another day of what has been the punch line of the summer, “forty shades of green replaced by Fifty Shades of Grey!” However, fast becoming an expert at trying to make the best of the challenging weather situation, this afternoon I purchased tickets to a show staged at the Cultúrlann Sweeney Theatre that resides in the newly renovated library in Kilkee. Tonight, Crack’d Spoon Theatre Company performed “Curtains Up”, a family friendly variety show, that was a delightful mix of comedy, dance and live music featuring local children, teenagers and adults. The comedy provided hearty laughs – and a few eye-rolls, the talented, and sometimes quite nervous, children were darling, the adult performances were very professional and the live music was an unexpected treat tonight following Willie Clancy Week. Some of the night’s highlights were; two young boys dressed as chimney sweeps performing an exuberant sean-nós broom dance; a Monty Python-esque town doctor comedy skit; two excellent male singers performing a “Simon and Garfunkel” tune; traditional Irish music performers playing and singing several Irish classics; a hilarious, quite large, older man dressed as a ballerina performing with a group of tiny, adorable little girl ballerinas, who seemed to take his presence for granted as just part of their group; and two “cleaning lady” comediennes who punctuated the acts with their banter and short spurts of set changing followed by numerous breaks for tea! All in all a great way for a mom and her 10-year-old son to spend yet another rainy Kilkee evening! This local black box theater is a great discovery that I hope we get to enjoy a lot more of in the future.

I also must mention something that I have observed at every performance I’ve attended in County Clare. This is the particularly charming practice of offering as refreshment, fresh brewed tea in ceramic mugs or, as they did tonight, in ceramic teacups with saucers! This was even done in the large venue for the concerts in Miltown Malbay last week. In that instance at one point the emcee of the show politely asked that people who have finished their tea, “please pass your cups down to the end of the rows so that they may be collected.” I love this civilized, homey touch and I hope it is never replaced with the usual disposable cups that are the norm everywhere else!

My “Willie Clancy” chair!

Musicians, singers, dancers and Irish traditional music fans, like me, have come to Ireland from all over the world to enjoy Willie Clancy Week. An 40ú Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy, the Willie Clancy 40th Summer School, a.k.a. Willie Clancy Week or the Willie Clancy Festival takes place annually in the town of Miltown Malbay. Not only is this Ireland’s largest traditional music summer school, but it offers a week of recitals, céilithe (traditional dances), lectures and exhibitions, all open to the public. It is basically an intensive, week-long celebration of  traditional Irish music and culture. Lucky for us, Miltown Malbay is just a half hour from our cottage so today Eoin and I made our first, of what I hope to be a few, trips to the festival. Not only was this a feast of Irish traditional music, punctuated by the most Irish language speaking I’ve ever heard while here, but it was a treat just to see so many people of all ages with musical instruments strapped to their backs or carried in their arms and even children, with their instruments of choice, busking along the main street!

On the way back to the car, which I had parked “Irish style” (half on top of the footpath) a distance from the center of town, we were enticed into a used-book store by a Roald Dahl book displayed in the window. Eoin has discovered this irreverent and hilarious children’s book author since we’ve been in Kilkee this summer and was just telling me this very day how he hoped to get more of his books. We ended up purchasing three books, much to Eoin’s delight. However, much to my delight, there was a wooden chair for sale in the back room of the shop, hand painted and antiqued by a woman from Feakle in County Clare. This was the chair I had pictured at my kitchen table for the past three years and, at the fair price they were asking, I couldn’t resist bringing it home! Therefore, to anyone who attended the Willie Clancy Festival today confused by the sight of a woman carrying a green, painted wooden chair above her head through the dense crowd, you see – there is a perfectly reasonable explanation!

Below are a few photos we took at the Willie Clancy Fest. If you would like to see a photo of me carrying a green chair above my head down a crowded sidewalk, I’m sorry, but we didn’t take one. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if one exists in someone else’s camera!

A child busking at the fest.

My Kilrush Farmer’s Market treasures.

Bipolar West Clare awoke in a manic state this morning – dry, mild and bright! At least it did here in the Kilkee region. After a couple of weeks living with its depressive state, which had me feeling a bit like a character in a John B. Keane tale, this change of mood was overdue and very welcome. Also, as far as I am aware the fine weather today was not predicted, so it came as a very pleasant surprise. In the words of a local business owner, “Where did this come from?!”

The Nevsail Hut at the beach.

This morning, while Eoin was occupied in the Atlantic at Nevsail Watersports Camp, I enjoyed the beginning of this dry, mild day with a trip to the nearby town of Kilrush. After a leisurely breakfast of coffee and a scone at my favorite Kilrush hangout, The Potter’s Hand Café, I followed up with a visit to the farmer’s market in the square. Much to my surprise, not only did this market have the usual stalls selling such things as fresh produce, gorgeous flowers, homemade jams and local cheeses, it also had a vendor selling live chickens! After making my purchases, no chickens included, I took my time walking back to the car enjoying the warmth of the sun and imagining myself, produce and beautiful bouquet in hand, strolling through a village in the south of France!

After collecting Eoin at the end of Nevsail (where a seagull ate his lunch – but that’s another story!) we headed over to Diamond Rocks where I took a walk along the cliffs as Eoin, carrying his net and bucket, enjoyed the mild breeze and sun while searching the Pollock Holes for sea creatures.

Eoin inspecting his treasures.

Unlike last night, the only thunder I heard today was the sound of white, foamy waves pounding against the sun-warmed rocks beneath the cliffs. The cliff walk was a dazzling sight with the bright sun shining down from a sky of blue, highlighting a show of wild grasses in every shade of green sprinkled with tiny wildflowers of purple, yellow and white. This vibrant scene practically took my breath away after so many rainy days of muted colors under grey skies. And standing atop the highest cliff looking across Intrinsic Bay, with the warmth of the sun allowing me to finally remove my sweater for the first time in many days, there was no reason to imagine I was anywhere other than the west of Ireland!

As I write this it is after ten o’clock in the evening. The sky is still clear, the air is still mild and I hear the peaceful sound of cattle lowing in a nearby field – perhaps asking each other, “Where did this come from?!”

Mist rolling in from the sea…

Isn’t it great when life comes with a music score? Just as I started my car this morning in the car park at the Diamond Rocks Cafe, invigorated after my walk through a thick, misty fog along the Kilkee Cliffs, my spirits high and my hair a moisture-induced mess of tangled curls and ringlets, the Paul McCartney song, “Mull of Kintyre” began to play on Clare FM. Although Paul sings of a different place, the song could have been written about these particular cliffs on a misty day like today and to me it was the perfect choice as the soundtrack to my morning.

What is it about a thick fog, especially on the edge of the world here in West Clare, that makes me feel so invigorated and at home? Could it be its similarity to my inner landscape and how my dreams and even my waking mind often feel clouded in a mist? Or maybe everyone feels this way and I’m reading more into the experience than it deserves. Perhaps it’s just a human condition – the way a thick fog pulls us into the present, wakes up all our senses and makes us feel truly alive. 

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