Mural on the wall of the Crane Bar, Galway. Trad music is still alive and well in Ireland.

It’s been raining all day; not the kind of soft Irish rain where the sun intermittently parts the clouds and paints rainbows on the sparkling green hills. This is your basic, boring, straight down rain, the kind that makes the days seem dark, long and dreary.

It’s the kind of rain that makes me want to hole up in my warm B&B, eat chocolate and drink tea. So that’s what I’m doing. I’m in Bunratty, convenient to Shannon airport from which I leave tomorrow morning. I’ve repacked, trying to make room for the treasure I’m taking home: Galway Crystal wine glasses for me, Guinness glasses for my sweetie; Belleek for my mom and his, and other things I couldn’t live without.

I miss Ireland already.

For every photo I have taken I have a thousand memories made in just these past two weeks. Like last night, when I was in my favorite pub in Ireland, the Crane Bar in Galway, and a group of more than a dozen trad musicians played and played and played while the Guinness flowed and friends old and new came in for shelter from the rain.

I went to the bar with two new friends I had met that day, sisters staying at the same B&B that I was, Glencree. I discovered over breakfast that one sister was from Seattle while the other was from Alaska. We laughed at the coincidence — what are the odds that out of the hundreds of lodgings in Galway that we Northwesterners would end up in the same one? And this time of year we were the only guests.

They were in Ireland for five weeks, traveling only by public transportation. Three weeks into it, and I could see that look in their eyes as they talked about the stunningly beautiful things they’d seen and the lovely people they’d met; the look that said Ireland had worked its way into their hearts.

At the Crane the effects of the long day, the warm room, beer and hypnotic music took their toll and by 11 p.m. we were all ready to head back to the B&B. As we got up to leave, a man who hadn’t said a word to us looked up with a look of genuine concern and said, “You’re not leaving are you?”  “Just for now,” I said, touching his shoulder,  “But I’ll be back.”

I miss home, and will be glad to sleep in my own bed, but my heart is in two places now and there’s nothing I can do about that — except plan for my return next May!

Thanks to all my readers who have tagged along on this journey, I hope you have enjoyed it. While this trip to Ireland is at an end, I will continue this blog, adding tidbits about travel, Ireland, Irish things such as music, movies, literature and information about the May tours as they shape up.

I expect to have the tour website, http://www.celtichearttours.com, up and running by Nov. 1st with the expert help of Nancy O’Gorman, a grand Irish-American lass. Look for the announcement here! The easiest way to keep up is to subscribe to this blog. I hope you do!

Closeup of a "Galway Hooker," a sail boat unique to Ireland.

Closeup of a "Galway Hooker," a sailboat with red sails unique to Ireland.

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