What should two jet lagged tourists who get up way too early on a Saturday morning do? We headed to the Milk Market in Limerick. As the name implies, milk used to be sold here starting in 1852, but these days it is a Saturday farmer's market. Even though we are far north of Chicago and would never dream of attending an outdoor market this late in the fall at home, the mild weather makes this a fun way to spend a Saturday morning year round. Inside the old market building fresh produce, baked goods, and cheeses were for sale. Outside on the perimeter it was more like a flea market with all manner of goods and "antiques" for sale. Unlike the markets we've been enjoying in Asia, we could identify all the fruits and vegetables for sale. The cheese merchants were generous with free samples and we purchased open faced cheese sandwiches with pesto on top that were mighty tasty. As we munched away, it was easy to get into conversations with local folks who were quick to identify us as foreigners. They were ready with lots of advice about what to see and do during our visit here.
Then we drove on to Adare, a picturesque village full of thatched roof buildings. A man who had a few years on us, climbed a two story ladder with thatch on his shoulder, repairing the roof. He said that thatch lasts about twenty years, the same life span our shingle roofs generally have. Most of the homes we pass are more modern looking and prosperous and well kept looking. The green rolling hills are dotted with cows and sheep and it appears that agriculture still provides a good living for many folks. However, the farms are tiny compared to what we have at home. Many of the pastures are surrounded by stone fences. No barbed wire here.
The most interesting stop was at the Foynes Flying Boat Museum. After Lindbergh made his historic solo flight across the Atlantic, interest in transporting passengers across the Atlantic grew exponentially. The planes large enough to carry fourteen passengers and the crew of twelve, could only land on water. No long runways had been built at that point. The span of Atlantic between Nova Scotia and Ireland, allowed for the shortest flight over water. The River Shannon, the longest river in Ireland, runs past Foynes and provided a long sheltered landing strip for these flying buses. Until the beginning of World War II anyone who was anyone landed in Foynes. For example, the museum had numerous picture of movie starts like John Wayne and Fred Astaire that had commute between the Old World and the New World on the flying boats. The museum showed harrowing trips as the pilots struggled to figure out exactly where they were and to determine the best altitude to fly in to maximize their fuel consumption. There was a point of no return, where they would no longer have enough fuel to head back. One flight where the decision to return back to Ireland was made lasted twelve hours. The cold and exhausted crew and passengers asked for some hot coffee after they landed. The inspired ground staff added some whiskey to the coffee mugs and Irish coffee was created. One of the original Pan Am flying boats is on exhibit at the museum and the inside felt more like a house than a plane. There was plenty of room to walk around and the lucky passengers were served seven course meals on fine china. Personally, we'll settle for a bag of peanuts secure in the knowledge that the pilot knows where we are and there is enough fuel to make it to our destination.
We had a reservation at a B & B in Killarney, but were somewhat concerned about how to find it. We've brought our GPS with us and it does a fine job of locating addresses, but many of the B & B's and other homes here have no addresses. They are simply identified by the name of the home. Tonight ours is called Windway House. Our host said that Irish town are all relatively small and everyone knows where everyone lives. You can just ask someone when you get into town and they'll probably be able to direct you. This makes us wonder how the mail man sorts the mail before it is delivered. Luckily as we entered Killarney we saw a sign for the Windway House and we are staying in one of its six rooms. Killarney looks like a cute touristy town and we can walk from Windway to the restaurants and stores.