Monday, May 31, 2010

IRELAND Chapter 9 The Green and Gold

When I revisit Ireland from here, what will pop into my mind first and foremost will be the GORSE. The stunning, vibrant, wonderful yellow flowering shrubs that covered the countryside.  It lined the roads. It divided the fields. It added such contrast to the green, green, green that I cannot imagine the view without it.

Way back in the 50's when my Dad had to choose colours for his racing silks, he chose Green & Gold.  I read once that it was because of his Irish heritage.  One day as we were driving along and everywhere I looked was green and gold, the colour of my Dad sprung to mind. It was the same exact tones.  I always figured that he just chose the gold to go with his Irish Green because it looked good. But seeing it as I did, maybe he did have an innate sense of his Irish roots in springtime.
When I go to Ireland again, I want it to be at the same exact time of year so I can once again visit the Green & Gold. In the meantime, it is etched deeply in my mind and in my heart. 

My Dad's racing cap from before helmets came in - the colours that he became known for.

IRELAND Chapter 8 Doors

Why doors?  I just like them. 
At the hostel we stayed at in Belfast.

The church in Dublin where Bram Stoker was baptized and married.

Lots going on in this door - love the heart key spot.

Dublin Castle - I love those guys - wonder if they're brothers.

Dublin Castle as well - must have had steps or a ramp for the horses to get down to the courtyard - or a big jump.

I liked the two door handles - one for the adults, one for the children.

Now this one is definitely unique.

They were big into colourful, happy doors in every town.

Just liked the blue & gray combination.

Might have a bit of a draught in winter. I love the handles in the handles in the very centre ... why not?!

Even the doors to the gardens were spectacular.

The entrance to Mona Best's delightful Skibereen B&B where stayed.

Wonderful stable doors at Bantry House.

I just loved the horse heads above the doors.

IRELAND Chapter 7 The Sights

I loved the way that we arranged our visit - it was the perfect balance for us. We spent a few days in Dublin, enjoying the sights of that vibrant, wonderful city.  We took a one day bus trip to Wicklow with one company, then a six day tour over the entire country with another company. Then we had five days with the car where we chose our own path and spent it all on the southern shore close to the sea and ended up in another day in Dublin. These are a few of the sights in random order.

The Half Penny Bridge in Dublin - over the River Liffey. The name comes from the fact that it used to cost that to cross it.
Dublin Castle
The wall in Galway where Judge Lynch hung his own son which spawned the term 'lynched'.
It was the 29th anniversary of the death of Bobby Sands.  They held a memorial in Galway with a tribute to the 14 who died.  We attended an interesting talk that evening by a gentleman who participated in the hunger strike.
This was in the church that Christopher Columbus attended when he was in Galway. It just struck my fancy on many levels.  I wonder if the 36 poor objects are still receiving their bread.

The Papal Cross in Dublin Park - the site of Pops John Paul's visit.
Skellig Michael - the site of a monastery back in the   century. You can still visit there when the sea is calm enough to allow a landing.

Giant's Causeway 

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

IRELAND Chapter 6 The Road Less Traveled

Taking the bus trip was great fun, but what we needed, even more than the freedom to set our own agenda, was to be able to stop when and where we wanted to take photos.  The only way to do that was to get up the nerve to tackle the ‘other side of the road’ driving. I go with the one that if someone else can do it, there’s nothing stopping me.

It took a bit to get used to, but having the perfect navigator – efficient, patient and calm – we did it.  And what fun we had.

I’m also not foolhardy, so we steered clear of the cities, thinking that the country roads would be less of a challenge. Hah. 

They’re not big into shoulders over there.  The roads we were on were windy and curvy and hilly, with brambles right up to the very edge on each side.  I had to wonder how they ever plow the roads. And I often wondered how it was even remotely possible to get two cars – or even worse, a truck of bus, by each other.  We blessed our luck a number of times when we happened to pass something-too-big, just moments after we had passed a treacherous spot.  The thing that blew me away was the speed limit of 100 km on roads that would have been about 45 in our country.

It wasn’t stressful at all though, it was great fun.  Some of the roads we were on were breathtakingly beautiful. It was often like driving through a fairy tale – tunnels of trees, lit up like magic forest.

The most memorable was the day that we ended up on a road less traveled.  It got to looking like someone’s rarely used driveway, with grass growing up the middle.  We went on like that for miles and miles, wondering at times if it would ever end, but most certainly enjoying the incredible scenery. 

More than once during our trip we came across sheep or cows on the road. On this particular day, I grabbed my ever-handy camera and snapped the sheep family who were sharing ‘the driveway’ with us.  Just as I did, I said ‘Holy S…’, as I spotted a car & threw the camera at Jan, who continued to capture the moment.

We spent five glorious days driving around four peninsulas.  With the hills and valleys, it was like being on the most scenic rollercoaster ride in the world.  I so wished that I had a movie camera strapped to my forehead and was able to rewind and replay every single moment of our journey over & over & over.