Friday, August 01, 2008

Ireland: Day 4

Today we leave Dublin for Galway. It's our first glimpse of Irish countryside ... and the new road system. The EU regulates national traffic and establishes rules - like road numbering, speed limits, sizes of roadways, etc. Until Ireland became a part of the EU, they had small two-lane roads - with many stoplights - between all the major cities. Several years ago, the EU began building larger highways - some as wide as four lanes - throughout Ireland which has made travel time across the country much quicker. So we made great time from Dublin to Galway (got there for lunch).

Along the way, we saw our first tower house. These castles were built for the purposes of watching for enemy invaders. We also saw lots of stone fencing which both divides property and separates property into smaller paddocks. The stones are not held together with mortar but rather are built by simple skill of stacking. The better the stacker - the better the wall. Some of the walls have been standing for many hundreds of years. We also saw our first "coffin ship" or "death ship." These were the vessels that were used to sail immigrants across the Atlantic to America to escape the terrors of the Great Famine. These ships came by their names honestly as a great number of the passengers who braved them lost their lives in route to freedom and prosperity.

Once in Galway city, we took a driving tour of the city. We saw the River Shannon, both of the St. Stephen cathedrals (one is inside the city walls and the newer one is on the outside of the walls), and the pedestrian walk. We walked the city center and had lunch on our own before heading to the hotel for the afternoon.

We gave our second concert of the tour in St. Stephen Cathedral inside the walls of the city. By far, this venue had the most fabulous acoustics. That being said, our Broadway pieces didn't work quite as well in this resonant room. But our spirituals and contemporary American art songs certainly did! This concert also drew a nice crowd, including a neighborhood pigeon who stayed until the last note was sung and then politely left out the front door.

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