Co-ordinates: N 53º16'10", W 09º02'54"
Weather: Sunny and warm
Air Temperature: 20.6ºC
Pressure: 1021 hPa
Wind: 12 km
We arrived at Galway way ahead of time to acclaim from both guests and Expedition staff because (apparently) Galway is not the easiest port in which to manoeuvre. Even the pilot admitted to being impressed by how Captain Alexander spun the ship and reversed it into one of the smaller berths in Europe, so we came alongside safely and smoothly at 0830 having had an increasingly even ride from Glengarriff overnight.
I was surprised and gratified to see how many guests came up to The Theatre for my lecture at 0930: ‘The Second or Third Coming’ which I was delighted to give before we get to Iona because so much of the current debate about church practice stems from what happened there in the sixth century. It’s always good to be able to set the scene in advance as well, so about half the guests (I hope) should have a rough idea of the events that took place there and why they mattered and still matter.
Some of the guests left the ship to explore the lovely city of Galway before an early lunch and the excursion to Kylemore Abbey. We had a long drive through spectacular scenery to reach the abbey, which had been built in the mid-nineteenth century as a wedding token by Mitchell Henry for his wife. Tragically, she died of disease in Egypt when she was 54, leaving him with a huge house and nine children. Kylemore Abbey is in a beautiful setting and the place has been occupied since 1920 by Benedictine nuns who were much in evidence. There’s a pretty neo-Gothic church nearby and a lovely, extensive walled garden. As ever it was too fleeting a visit; time, and especially tide, waiting for no man.
A treat was waiting for us when we got back to the ship: dancing girls! Specifically four enchanting youngsters who gave us a display of Irish dance that they seemed to enjoy doing as much as we enjoyed watching them. They got a thunderous round of applause, which was well deserved.
Another day drew contentedly to an end: we’ve had unexpectedly good weather, which has made big difference, although I’m convinced that it would have been a great day anyway.