Monday, July 21, 2008

Kilkee, 3.7.90: Soeurs Chanteuses and Galway Bay

Sitting in car in front of our b and b in Kilkee, where we spent the night. Yesterday drove the Ring of Kerry, which was much less imposing than we had supposed—anticlimactic, even, after the less-publicized Beare Peninsula. A sad day. Trouble, trouble. I feel weary.

As we drove, I fantasized a bit about living in the barren country of the West. Wondered why I lost this vision of combining the intellectual life and the life in connection to nature. Yet I wonder if this even takes place with the many dropouts whose shops one sees in west Cork. Don’t they inevitably end up producing kitsch for tourists, or running tasteful and vegetarian hostels for the discriminating bourgeois tourist? Is there any way out of a system whose tentacles reach everywhere?

Not much to say re: the Ring in terms of its physical features. I noticed little, frankly. They day was gloriously sunny, as is today. More and more touristy out here, and I hate it. Every little town full of junk shops, every “natural” sight studded “with real ould Irish” shops.

We drove from Ring of Kerry via Listowel across the Shannon at the Tarbert Ferry and up to Kilkee. Kilkee seems a nice enough town, rather unspoiled, and I suspect because it’s an Irish tourist place rather than hyped-up American.

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Steve and I walked up the hill from the beach, to the cliff or escarpment that protects Kilkee from the ravages of the Atlantic. This at “evening,” which is of course full sun in Irish parts. As walked, saw a number of men unselfconsciously disrobing to change into bathing trunks. K. said she saw a woman doing so. Not the stereotypical prudery of the Irish.

Then back to b and b, can’t even recall name of it, and supper with too much wine. I’m weary of the ceaseless silly chatter. Steve and I were going to go out for beer and music, but I felt too tired after the wine. Am coming down with a cold, too. We talked into the night, as a room of women next door smoked and talked excitedly.

Am writing this from a b and b near Shannon airport, Mrs. Donnellan’s, Meadowvale. After we got up this a.m., drove to Cliffs of Moher. Absolutely horrible—busload upon busload of American tourists talking nasally at the tops of their voices, flashing money and guarding their space. And a row of sad stage-Irish characters: a woman tatting lace, a red-faced man with a donkey and a dog that sat atop it pipe in mouth, with a sign asking 50p for a picture; a family of harpist, fiddler, flautists (all children and quite good) with a sign saying they were Irish music champions; a man belting out shlocky ballads; and two little girls with a music synthesizer and microphone and sign reading Soeurs chanteuses—why in French I don’t know—signing treacly songs in the funniest voices imaginable. K. of course bought a tape of this and I couldn’t keep from laughing as we played it in the car.

I was glad to leave the Cliffs and drive to Galway, but the day is really a blur, as I’ve felt increasingly sick and headachy. Galway seems rather charming, a slight Spanish air, and I liked much the central green or plaza. Took K. and A. to a fish restaurant, McDonnell’s or McDonagh’s, on Quay St., and K. of course made a scene. Would not have the delicious seafood chowder, and opted for trout, thinking inanely that trout (brook) of Galway = trout (sea) of New Orleans. Not so, of course—a pinkish-fleshed fish close to salmon. She picked at a bite of two and then ate none.

After that, a brief shopping tour. A very nice bookshop, Kenny’s, in High St., with a huge selection of good used books and nice poetry section. But I bought nothing. My tourist self is fading.

Then a hot afternoon drive to Shannon and a search for b and b off the road, and here we are, having eaten supper. Plan to get up tomorrow and go to airport in the a.m. to get settled.

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