I arrived on Inishturk last Wednesday on the 6:30 ferry. I'd taken the overnight flight Tuesday from Hartford, Connecticut (where I'd been visiting my mom) to Dublin, arriving at 5:15 a.m. I'd had nightmares about this part of the journey...from plane to bus to train to shuttle to ferry...but it went so smoothly I took it as a sign that I was in the right place at the right time. I was exhausted when the plane landed as I'd slept less than 2 hours and I knew I had a long day of travel ahead of me. But I followed my instincts and got on the correct bus to the rail station and the machine took my credit card to buy the ticket (note to self: buying the ticket online would have saved me half the ticket price) and I made the 7:35 train to Westport. The train was comfortable but when we stayed at one stop for over 20 minutes without anyone getting on or off, I got concerned. I had to catch a connecting train and I watched the minutes ticking away. When we finally started down the tracks again, I was already 15 minutes late. My stop came up and lo and behold! there, on the other side of the platform was the Westport train waiting with doors open. I settled onto the new train and nodded off a few times during the 90 minute ride.
Arriving in Westport was a joy as it's a small, tidy town and reminds me a lot of Fredericksburg with about the same population. It will be my source for commerce for my time on Inishturk. Banks, groceries, shops, hotels, restaurants, Westport has everything Inishturk lacks and thank goodness, as I wouldn't love Inishturk near as much if it had those things. With my backpack on and wheeling my small suitcase, I headed into town. I tried to get money from 2 ATM's and neither would cough up a dime. I had a stash of euros and had planned to get groceries on my credit card (fingers crossed it would work), so I figured I was okay. I lingered over my lunch of bland soup and brown bread until the owner began looking at me suspiciously, so I moved on. I had hours to kill until I could catch the shuttle to the ferry and with my pack and suitcase (and being seriously tired), I had no desire to look in shops or walk around town. Across the street to the grocery store I went, loaded my luggage into the grocery cart and commenced to pick up supplies for my first week on the island. Coffee, yogurt, milk, veggies, spaghetti...I found myself calculating how much I could carry to my cottage if it was raining and no one met me at the harbour. My credit card worked (YES!) and I wheeled my luggage and groceries to the back of the store where I'd meet the shuttle to take me to Roonaugh Pier and the ferry to Inishturk. There was a bench there by the open door and I took a seat for what I knew would be a 3 hour wait. It was chilly and rained on and off. Folks would nod at me as they walked in and look at me puzzled as they walked out later. A little boy walked in followed by his mother and sister. He looked over at me and said, "Diane!" It was little Jamie, the son of Catherine, the owner of the cottage I'm renting. We sat and visited for a bit, then they left to get their groceries. When they came back out, while Catherine and I were talking, her phone rang and it was Mary Catherine from the island. She handed the phone to me and I got the wonderful news that she would pick me up at the harbour!
The shuttle finally arrived and the driver helped me load my bags. I settled in for the 20 minute ride with the 3 schoolchildren from the island (yes, a total of 3 kids attend the island school) who had been to the mainland for a field trip with their teacher. We arrived at the pier just as the ferry did and as the passengers got off I saw a number of familiar faces. Hugs and promises made to catch up later as our baggage was loaded and off we went. The seas were a bit rough, with intermittent rain and gusty winds. It was nice to have folks to talk to as my stomach was turning everytime the boat did. We finally docked at the harbour and I was so glad to see Mary Catherine's sweet face! We loaded my bags in her car and took the short drive to my gate. There we carried everything through another gate and into the house. A fire burned in the coal stove and the house felt cozy and warm. Was I ever glad to be home! I put away groceries while running to the living room window to gaze at the ocean.
I had landed in Paradise! I put off unpacking my luggage and went out my front gate (not to be confused with the side gate) and down a small path to a door...my private entrance to Jo's courtyard. Jo is the reason I came to this island in the first place last year-answering a posting on the WWOOFing Ireland site-and my cottage is next door to her house. She looked well and healthy. She had set the fire in my coal stove and I thanked her for the most welcoming gesture. After having a glass of brandy I headed back home - with a plate of salmon, vegetables and potatoes for lunch the next day. Mary Catherine came back by and dropped off a steak dinner, so I slowly ate while watching the tide come in. I had made it back.
A gift of rhubarb from my neighbor Maggie, the island nurse.
Wild primroses grow all over the island.
My first mostly foraged dinner. Spaghetti with mussels and garlicky dandelion greens.
Stunning views off the cliffs on the northeast side of the island.