Ireland really is a land of mystery. After all, where else can one day last two weeks (on Earth, that is)? Last week we ditched Finn McSpool sometime in the early afternoon at Inishmore’s Poll na bPeist (aka “Wormhole”). Now, it’s time to hop back on Killer (that would be Killer the Attack Bike for anyone who missed last week’s post) and finish out the day with (sigh) more cycling, more Aran Island sites and scenery, a bit of gang activity, and some trouble with the local law enforcement.
Time for Tea…And Photos
After getting lost on our way back to the bikes from the Wormhole, it was time to pedal back to the B&B for a little tea break and to soothe our saddle sores (let me tell you, those rental bike seats are not friendly to the butt skin). The way back included plenty of stops to capture island scenery such as this….
Okay, that last photo was mainly to get a snapshot of the swans, but now that we weren’t in a rush, I was once again allowed to take photos of critters. Including this irresistible pony who looks so gloomy I decided he should be named Eeyore (I know Eeyore was a donkey, but we’ll get to the donkey in a bit).
And, we can’t forget a photo opp with a certain
diva, I mean Beastie (well, I could, but he wouldn’t let me)…
Just as we were rounding the bend to snag a soothing cuppa and load up on some sugary nibbles, I delayed things yet again. Not with critters this time, but with this fascinating patch of fungus….
How to Deal with Aran Island Law Enforcement
A pot of tea and plenty of cookies (biscuits) later, we (okay, Mr Husband) decided we should try to ride to the end of the island (the end away from Dun Aengus) before dinnertime.
“Um, okay,” I said, shuddering at the thought of getting back on Killer. So, off we went. More like “Ow” we went. Like I said, those bike seats are a literal pain in the ass and our butt cheeks were feeling pretty raw (lotta of standing up pedaling on this outing, let’s just put it that way). Our goal was to visit another ruin and go all the way to the western tip of the island before the sun set.
Now, Inishmore has no traffic lights (I do think I saw a stop sign somewhere). However, what they do have for traffic control is Traffic Donkey. Or at least that’s what I assume his job was. Mr Husband (having NOT been attacked by his bike that morning) was zipping along ahead while Finn and I were toddling along taking in the scenery when I looked up to see this….
And he kept coming closer and closer until he stopped right in front of me….
“Do you realize you were doing 10 mph in a designated donkey zone?”
“Sorry, officer, I didn’t know.”
“A likely excuse.” Traffic Donkey then looked back over his shoulder. “Sir, is she with you?”
“I stole the extra biscuit from the tea room! I confess! I confess!!!”
Okay, maybe Mr Husband isn’t the best under authoritarian pressure.
“Uh-huh,” said Traffic Donkey, turning his attention back to me and staring at me just waiting for me to crack. Using my steely nerves (and hoping Finn kept his big mouth quiet about the pile of cookies I had stolen from the tea room), I kept my cool even when he nudged a bit closer.
There were a tense few moments, but then I scratched Traffic Donkey on the head and won the staring contest. I don’t recommend this strategy when dealing with human police officers.
“Well, looks like everything checks out here, but don’t let it happen again. And watch out for the Moo Cow Gang, they’re a tough herd.”
Teampail Bheanain, aka “Moo Cow Gang Turf”
Having narrowly escaped our brush with the law, we finally made it to our stop: Teampail Bheanain (or, Temple of St. Beanan). Way, way up on top of a hill.
Setting the bikes aside (and hoping they weren’t confiscated by Traffic Donkey or stolen by this infamous Moo Cow Gang), we started up the slope.
As the slim-on-information map we got at the Tourist Office says, this is a “short climb over steep ground.” They ain’t kidding, folks! It was steep, but thankfully short. And look at those views!!
St Beanan (which autocorrect wants to change to St Banana) was a disciple of St Patrick (you know, the guy who invented green beer) back in the 5th century, but this little stone church actually dates from the 11th century. It’s only 6 meters square inside so probably wasn’t ever used as a church and instead might have held some holy relics or other such religious goodies.
The site on the hill may have been chosen to make it visible to people at the bottom of the hill, or it may have been sited here in association with the holy well on the hill where Finn found these little wild flowers)…
….but I think it was put here for the views. I mean just look at this!
There also used to be a 30-meter tall round tower here (you’ll remember round towers from Finn’s climb up the one in Kilkenny), but it toppled in the 19th century and all that’s left is this….
In addition to the short-but-steep-climb information, the map also points out that livestock graze this hill and you should keep your distance. Clearly, they know a thing or two about this Moo Cow Gang. Unfortunately, the map say nothing about what to do if the cows themselves won’t keep their distance!
As these ladies sized us up, we knew this had to be the Moo Cow Gang that Traffic Donkey warned us about. And they didn’t look happy about us being on their turf.
With the Moo Cow Gang closing in we figured it was time to head back down the hill. Tempting the ire of the gang, I made time for one more picture.
Ugh…I Need a Guinness
After this climb, our narrow escape from the Moo Cow Gang, and a day’s worth of cycling and hiking (and a very grumbly tummy), I just couldn’t bear to ride any further. The only thing that kept me motivated on the ride back into town was the promise of a Guinness. Unfortunately, Finn got to it first….
How about you? Any Traffic Donkeys in your area? Any painful cycling tales to relate? Share a comment and tell me all about it. We’ll be back next week with another day in the saddle on Inishmore (it hurts just thinking about it). Thanks for stopping by, everyone!!!
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