Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Visit to Ardara

Semi tropical plants growing in the front yard of a house on the main street of Ardara.

Ardara is on the coast north of Killybegs.  It is the weaving capital of Donegal; even the visitor's center is in a weaving shop.  The pubs are known for their traditional music, and there are lots of pubs.  All the road signs in the area are in Irish, most without the English subtitles.  Good thing the map we have has the towns labeled both ways.
The Diamond.  There are lots of tractors in Ireland.  Many of them are John Deere, but not this one.

With the help of a lovely girl at the Triona Design Shop, which doubles as the visitor's center, we have a room at the Brae House B&B for euro 70.  Walking around the town didn't take very long, although we did find a great photo exhibit of local people from 1920 - 1970.  It was a treasure.  We spotted an internet cafe, but their computers weren't working.  While sitting in the diamond, we watch a car pull up with 3 nuns and a very elderly priest.  They help him out of the car, then walk very slowly down the sidewalk, before trying to cross the street so he can go to the Pharmacy.  It was comical to watch, as the priest's footsteps were only 4 inches at a time.  Why they didn't park closer, we'll never know.  We went our way before they tried to cross.  I guess they made it ok, we never heard any sirens.

A hotel on the main street, which was built in 1814.  Hope they have updated the rooms.

I  offer to buy Bill a beer, so it's to the Corner House pub for a pint of Smithwick, which has a silent W, Smithick.  The pub is set up for a music night this evening.  Bill is impressed by their Bose speaker system, which is easier on the ears than some others.  We wander on down the street to another pub, this time for a Guinness.  After getting our pints, we realize this place serves food in the back.  While walking through to find a table, we also spy what we will have for dinner.  I go for a huge bowl of mussels steamed in wine sauce, while Bill has the broiled crab claws.  Both were delicious, when we finally got them.
The remains of my mussel dinner.  Yum!

We had to wait for the waiter.  He was an older man, who always seemed surprised that there were people sitting at the tables wanting to order.  He never came to a table with his pad, "Oh, you want to order something?  Give 2 minutes, I don't have my pad."  Most of the time is longer than 2 minutes before he appeared again.  Since most everyone in our litle room was on holiday, none were in a hurry.  We all ended up laughing about him.

On either side of our table were a couple from Germany and a couple from France.  The Germans had been coming to Ardara for 15 years for the music.  He had even learned to play the Bohdrum, a soft sounding drum, and would be at the Corner House this evening.  The French couple were entertaining themselves by reading the sugar packets.  They were similar to fortune cookie sayings, only with an Irish twist, written both in Irish and English.  When they had finished reading their bowl, he asked if we would trade so they could read our packets, so we did!   Dinner took a long time, and not because we were lingering over our food.
A visiting singer  on holiday from Dublin.

The fiddler.

The music at the Corner House started about 10:00, by 10:30 the place was packed.  We arrived early enough to get a good seat.  The band had a fiddle, 2 guitars, a slide dobrow guitar, bass guitar, tin whistle and the drum.  Everyone but the fiddler, tin whistler and drummer, also sang.  Throughout the evening, they were joined by another drummer, a replacement bass player, and several different singers.  One young couple played a couple of songs as a flute and drum duet. 
Most of the band.  The German drummer had gone for another Guinness.  His bohdrum is to the left of the stool.

The most fun with a song was Turkey in the Straw.  They started out at a nice tempo, then through 7 or 8 different time changes until they were literally flying.  The tin whistle lady was the best.  She played with the whistle to one side of her mouth, fingers moving so fast they didn't appear to touch the whistle, head bobbing side to side and then her left foot bouncing up and down to the time.  We kept waiting for her to become airborne!     We left at 12:30 and they were still going strong!

I've always heard folks say, "She has the voice of an angel.", but it wasn't until this evening that I truly knew what they meant.  A 10 year old girl was called up to the microphone.  I had seen her earlier running around with her younger sister, acting like a 10 year old.  When she started singing acapella, the entire pub went silent.  She sang 3 very traditional Irish songs; no show off, no trying to sound like a rock star, just a  sweet, clear voice:  the voice of an angel.

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