On the train again, heading for Dublin and our last night in Ireland. I've had a great time, but last night I dreamed of leprechauns and I'm really starting to miss home.
Ennis turned out to be nicer than my first impression. The town is walkably small, with the town center, a commercial district in among medieval streets and lanes, being only a few blocks long and wide - this was not a tourist district, though there were plenty of pubs and restaurants, but the place where locals (probably including people from the nearby countryside) conducted their business. Downtown is where we rented our next bikes - clunkers again, unfortunately - and where we'd begin and end every day, with breakfast from a bakery and dinner in a pub.
During the day we'd ride our clunkers out into the Clare countryside. We had two days: our first day was an exploration of my maternal roots, going from Ennis to Killmihel on the tiniest roads I've ever seen, then on to Milltown Malbay on even smaller roads. We had lunch in Milltown Malbay, then returned to Ennis via a road crossing called The Hand, actually the mailing address of distant relatives even now. (There is no one and nothing there except a road marker, and I wasn't looking people up anyway.)
That was about 54 miles, and our second day was much less ambitious: we rode out to an unusual, rocky terrain called The Burren, and did a loop through the national park there. We took our time, stopped at a few archeological features, and took lots of pictures.
Evenings, which started and sometimes ended in daylight since the sun doesn't set until after 10:00, were spent checking the local "trad" music scene. We would grab dinner in a pub, and some musicians would wander in and start playing, our we'd find some bunch of people playing in the back of some bar. The music was uniformly good, and a lot like the stuff we'd heard in Dingle, but there was a political edge to Ennis that we didn't find elsewhere. It seems kind of silly to hear an Irish version of "We Shall Overcome," until you see newsprints on the walls from the 1916 uprising, and the statues of O'Connor and De Valera in the town squares...