|On top Knocknarea, Ben Bulben in the background.|
Strangers tend to take a shine to my sister quickly. You'd think I would have remembered this fact, having seen it in action several times in the course of a weekend the previous November in Philly, but somehow it had slipped my mind. Add in the fact that many Irish, especially in the west, are very quick to chat up a stranger, and you have a recipe for some interesting encounters. People of all shapes and sizes are drawn to her, but probably the greatest percentage are men who give the impression they would propose if given the slightest encouragement. There were at least three such encounters during this trip. My presence occasionally inspired a certain wariness, but rarely any actual deterrence, and finding out that I was her brother rather than her husband usually brought the twinkle back to their eyes. As it so happens, in two cases the men mentioned early in the conversation that they were themselves (happily) married; the flirting, if that is what it was, was just play, though I wouldn't say that meant it was insincere. They were by turns cheerful, teasing (the Irish are big teasers) and charming but never offensive.
|On the Burren|
This is not to say that none of them were persistent. One fellow especially sticks in my mind.
|Galway, First Day|
|Cliffs of Moher|
|Hiking to Clifden Castle|
|Coming down Knocknarea|
|The Sky Road outside Clifden|
When we got up to leave (our stop coming before his) there didn't seem to be any regret on his part, no downcast looks, no objections, no demands she stay put. Something tells me he had been in this situation before, and was wise enough to know there were plenty more fish in the sea.
|Hiking up Knocknarea|