Yesterday, we explored some back roads in an area that a neighbor informed us was the Bermuda Triangle of Mayo. According to him, he found a stone circle in that area but has never been able to locate it since. What the fairies giveth, the fairies taketh away. Anyway, Premium T. expertly navigated from an ordnance survey map, directing me up hill and down dale, across rivers and around lakes until we arrived safely at the Healy Hotel. Located in Pontoon on an isthmus separating the upper and lower parts of Lough Conn, the Healy's pub looks out over the lake and is -- IMHO -- the finest place in Ireland to take a pint.
I will say that people live in some pretty remote places. Nonetheless, we noticed plenty of new construction -- supporting the Irish view that people prefer to build a new house to buying an existing one. And why not? Despite the influx of immigrants, Ireland remains underpopulated and has no shortage of land and landowners ready and willing to subdivide.
Ireland's official view of immigration differs markedly from America's. For one thing, they have an official view, which is to attract and retain skilled workers. Unskilled workers abound as well -- the server in a Westport restaurant is as likely to be Polish or Italian as Irish. As long ago as 1997, I picked up a brochure called "A Part Of Ireland Now: Ten Refugee Stories" published as the European Year Against Racism. The town of Portloaise (Port-LEASH) recently elected Nigerian-born Rotimi Adebari as mayor. (Adebari's qualifications are obvious: He's described as being "as clever and as ingenious as any Irish politician.")
But I digress. Yesterday was actually pretty devoid of people, Irish or otherwise. We read for awhile in Healy's bar while the locals watched the Cork-Kerry Gaelic football match, cheering enthusiastically as Cork upset the defending All-Ireland champions. After a while, we left for home. I finally got lost, ironically on some roads that I'm actually familiar with. Here, that means seeing that much more of the countryside.
Mayo turf harvest:
The Healy Hotel:
The view from the Healy:
The view in the Healy:
Out in the real world, Barack Obama refines the use of Facebook as a campaign tool while Johnny Wattles struggles with the teleprompter...
What does Obama want? "If I haven’t gotten combat troops out of Iraq, passed universal health care and created a new energy policy that speaks to our dependence on foreign oil and deals seriously with global warming, then we’ve missed the boat. Those are three big jobs, so it’s going to require a lot of attention and imagination, and it’s going to require the American people feeling inspired enough that they’re prepared to take on these big challenges." More here. Anyone whose favorite Rolling Stones song is "Gimme Shelter" is down with me...
Ruby My Dear and Brother Thelonious. No word yet on whether you can get it in the pubs here...