Ireland Travel Stories – Post Three – Exceptional Food and Music

The afternoon and evening of day two of our trip to Ireland were surprising in the best kind of way. There is something about experiencing others doing what they love with excellence, that is energizing and captivating.

As we leave Kylemore Abbey, Chris says he has an idea of where we might eat. He’s a foodie and usually researches where we can eat ahead of time. We drive through the beautiful countryside with its green fields, stone walls, and water. We pass through a small village or two and head back out of town on a road that seems to be leading us away from civilization. The scenery is breathtaking. Chris says we’re getting close, which is hard to believe given there is almost nothing around besides the fields, water and sheep. He’s found this seafood truck that has fantastic Google reviews – Dooncastle Oyster and Seafood Trailer

I can’t imagine a food truck parked in the middle of nowhere getting any business, but as we come over the next rise, there it is. It is very unassuming – a food truck and some picnic tables. There are two other groups sitting at tables. It’s mid afternoon. That’s a good sign. The location is incredible.

The tables look out over what looks like a lake but is actually part of the Atlantic Ocean. The chef is friendly and clearly has a passion for food, especially locally harvested food. He says he got the oysters that morning from “down there”. He points to the bottom of the hill at the water. The oysters are like artwork.

We try what feels like most of the menu – oysters (raw and cooked), fish, scampi, calamari. The food is delicious, and you can’t beat the view! This was one of the high points of our trip.

That evening we decide to go looking for live music. It’s Friday night. We manage to find a seat right near the door of one very crowded pub that has a band playing. Chris goes to try and get us a drink. He waits at the side of the bar because there are so many people at the front given that that is where the musicians are playing.  A guy sitting at the table next to us, leans over and indicates that Chris should push his way around to the front of the bar or he won’t get served. It seems impossible to get through the crowd and Chris is in no hurry. It doesn’t feel like going to a bar at home (not that I’m a regular or anything). It’s hard to put my finger on the reason. One family has their baby with them, the ones next to us brought their dog. It feels a little more like someone’s living room, where people have gathered to connect. The friendly guy at the next table gets up and goes to encourage Chris to push his way past the dancing crowd through to the bar. It turns out he and his wife and dog are visiting from Manchester, England. The accent reminds me of another time in my life. I was in my twenties when I met some guys from Manchester.  I was living in England for a while and working in the Lake District. I remember these guys being a little rough around the edges and hard to understand. I was astounded to watch how quickly they drank their pints. If one happened to need the bathroom, he would return to the bar with the others having flipped his beer upside down on the bar top with a coaster underneath. It was like something out of another world. The family from Manchester sitting next to us is nice. There is no downing of pints or flipping drinks over. We have a friendly chat.

It seems we’ve caught the last three songs the band will play. After we finish our drinks, we wander the main street of Clifden looking for more music. We hear what sounds like traditional Irish music at Ravi’s. We decide to go and check it out. It was one of those moments where we could easily have walked on. I’m so glad we didn’t. Our time listening to music that night, was the highpoint of the trip for both of us.

I don’t recall a lot about the place itself, besides good food, helpful staff and friendly atmosphere, because it was hard to take my eyes off the musicians. One of the servers told us, the flutist was an all-Irish flute playing champion. I can believe it. It’s hard to put into words, so I hope you’ll listen to the short video clip below. It was fascinating and energizing to watch someone play with such skill, joy and creativity. I was captivated and thought of little else besides the music for hours. That music was worth the price of the trip!

It was a surprising and delightful evening.

In the next month I’m planning to post 8 times. This is in order to complete a project for Toastmasters – Level 4 in the Innovative Planning Pathway. 8 times in a month feels like a really tall order. It is requiring some thought and planning to figure out what to blog about with that kind of frequency. I’ve decided to post about our recent trip to Ireland. You can expect posts twice a week to tell stories about what I saw or experienced on the trip. This is the third post. You can find the first one here. I hope you enjoy.

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