Brillo Goes to Sea – The Aran Islands Part Two

After talking with the dogs, we discovered that while we may not understand their unique bark, Adorable is a universal language. Also, dogs apparently love kelp.

Who knew?

.
Who knew?

Before we left the beach, a friend of mine left a message for posterity.

"We are not tourists."

.
“We are not tourists.”

We also snapped some pictures of these really weird rocks.

.

.

The Stoney Sponges of the Sea.

.
The Stoney Sponges of the Sea.

Our destination was the MV Plassy, a steam trawler that ran aground carrying a cargo of whiskey, stained glass, and yarn – a combination that could only be more Irish if the boat beached itself to the tune of “Molly Malone”. Ever since her final voyage in 1960 left her more out of place than Mr Bean on an episode of House, she has slowly rusted away to her current state. We’ll see the Plassy soon enough. This trip, friends, is more about the journey than the destination.

It's basically The Hobbit.

.
It’s basically The Hobbit.

Fitting with the general theme of the place, the houses of Inis Oírr strongly reflect the traditional Irish style.

Stucco, thatch, and the central Irish palm tree.

.
Stucco, thatch, and the central Irish palm tree.

The island has its fair share of abandoned buildings, though whether this is due to the current economic troubles or something else entirely, I’m not sure.

"Leave the house to the cows, Martha. They've earned it."

.
“Leave the house to the cows, Martha. They’ve earned it.”

We passed the island’s airstrip, which is used for emergencies that can’t wait for the ferry.

.<p>"Airstrip" being the Irish word for "chunks of pavement on a field."</p>

.“Airstrip” being the Irish word for “chunks of pavement on a field.”

We found a real Neolithic tomb that wasn’t even fake.

. Due to limitations in the stone-age diet, prehistoric humans averaged four inches in height.

.
Due to limitations in the stone-age diet, prehistoric humans averaged four inches in height.

Brillo promptly made himself at home.

The basement contains a reading room and adorable wine cellar.

.
The basement contains a reading room and the most adorable wine cellar.

Eventually we passed into a less-populous area of the island. Farmer’s fields stretched out to the sea.

. And my tall friend stretched to inner space.

.
And my tall friend stretched to the lower stratosphere.

Now, here’s an interesting tidbit about those fields. Dry stone walls (as opposed to those held together with mortar) are extremely common land divisions in rural Ireland. The first thing most people notice about the fields is that they are surprisingly tiny.

.

.

.

.

. The fields on the hill are used for growing houses.

.
The fields on the hill are used for growing houses.

According to my Irish friends, the majority of field divisions date back to the Bronze Age. Of course there was no mega-farming back then, so fields were kept manageably small. In a country with so much visible history, this holdout from thousands of years ago should come as no surprise.

See? We learn things here.

. For example, before the introduction of the potato, rock fields such as this one fed almost 80% of the population.

.
For example, before the introduction of the potato, rock fields such as this one fed almost 80% of the population.

As we neared the Plassy, we looked back at the hill we had come from.

.

.

This next photo doesn’t have a story. I just think it looks nice.

. I do weddings too, folks.

.
I do weddings too, folks.

Close-up of one of the stone walls:

. If you counted every rock used to construct Ireland's famous walls, at a rate of one rock per second, you'd get bored really fast.

.
If you counted every rock used to construct Ireland’s famous walls, at a rate of one rock per second, you’d get bored really fast.

Brillo kept getting shifty looks from cows.

.

.
Never trust a Hereford.

Getting farther from the hill:

.

.

Our first sight of the Plassy:

.

.

A closer shot:

.

.
That’ll buff right out.

The MV Plassy ran aground during a storm one day in 1960. Fortunately, all 11 people on board were safe. The ship, however, was left to nature.

The Plassy highlights one of the most marked differences between American and Irish culture. In America, if such a ship were to wash ashore, we’d have groups campaigning to remove the hazard. We’d have mothers worried for their children’s safety, petitioning the town council to finally remove that bucket o’ tetanus before it can convert their loved ones to socialism or whatever. Point being, safety freaks would come down on it so hard that the ship would Titanic in half under the pressure.

Not to mention the lawsuits. Oh, boy, people in the States would have a field day. Thirty-year-old develops a rare blood disease? Must be that scrape he got as a kid climbing around the decaying hull. And the shipping company would have to pay. At the very least, some organization would swoop in, put everything behind Plexiglas, and charge admission to see less than half the interior, with the remaining bit cordoned off as “offices.”

But the Plassy is there for all to see. No admission fee, no restrictions. Not a single lawsuit, as far as I can dig up. And it was a magical experience.

. "Aslan?"

.
“Aslan?”

Coming up in Part Three: A look inside a shipwreck, a castle that wasn’t meant to be, and Father Ted.

Any guesses as to where Brillo is in this picture? Guess it right, and win a lifetime supply of self-satisfaction!

.

.

Advertisements

3 responses to “Brillo Goes to Sea – The Aran Islands Part Two

  1. That’ll buff right out… HA!!! Love these. I always visit villages when I travel. Big cities drive me crazy unless they are chock full of history. I also love a good rock wall.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s