We’ve been home a few weeks and thoughts of Ireland still resound in my mind.
Here are some photomontages of different aspects of Ireland that stand out for me.If one were to ask for a quick overview, I would respond by saying –
Green! It abounded. The first photo of the trees growing over the road, shaped by the bus traffic is a common sight.
Water and Beaches! They were everywhere. I loved the wind coming off the ocean; the ever-moving cloud scenes; the smell of the water and the freshness of the air. The beaches varied from being beautiful sand to rocky. It was very different seeing the Atlantic ocean looking in a westerly direction.
Sheep! They were everywhere. They appeared so different from the sheep I see in Colorado. They were shorter legged, more rounded in body and many were dyed to mark who they belonged to. They might be found in meadow fields, climbing rocky cliffs or close to the ocean. Except when we were in a city, we saw sheep everyday.
Tower Houses, Castles, Abbeys – old structures
From BeeHive house structures from 800AD, a lighthouse that’s been functioning for over 800 years, to medieval streets in the heart of cities — there were so many old structures. Some were still being used, some have been restored and some are in varying states of decay. It was difficult for me to comprehend just how old these structures are.
The Burren! This area was a surprise for me. From a distance it lacked the intense green so prevalent elsewhere. The surprise is how rich The Burren is with small plant growth; what a haven it is; and how rich it is in history.
The day we drove Dingle Peninsula, approaching Dingle, we could see a lighthouse in the distance but no signs leading to it. We turned around looking for a road leading to the beach and headed toward a little village called Beenbawn. There we found a small road leading to the shore with a view of the lighthouse on the other shore. The beach area was the first of many special places we would find during this trip. We watched a few people drive up the road, look at the water and turn around and leave. Our experience was much richer. As Tom climbed the higher rock walls over looking the water, I took a path between two rock walks, ultimately leading me down to the shore. The tide was out so I walked the sandy beach. The sound of the waves rolling in and then crashing against the outlying rocks before splashing back into the sea eliminated all sounds save for those from a few sea gulls on the beach. I was the only person exploring this beach. It was heaven!
I found colorful wildflowers, so small and delicate, growing on the sides and tops of the rock walls creating pockets of color against these dark reddish rocks. The sea was alive and vibrant; some of the waves created towering splashes as they crashed against the rocks.
This was the first of many enjoyable trips to the sea.
Cliffs of Moher
As we sat, we soaked up the sun, allowed the breeze blowing off the water to tussle our hair, breathed in the fresh ocean air and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the waves crashing on the rocks below.
Not all shores had beaches…
But they all had beauty
Salthill area outside Galway
Lunch on an island at a remote golf course tee overlooking the ocean…
The Hook Lighthouse Beach…
At one beach we met an older gentleman who had recently checked is fishing traps. He said, “The sea gets under your skin. I couldn’t live a day without coming down here.”
We arrived in Galway, checked into our apartment and headed to the store to pick up a few things so we could fix breakfast the next morning. By Irish standards it was a large store. We made our selections and were walking down the produce isle when an elderly man approached me. He was neatly dressed and wearing an old leather hat. He spoke with a heavy brogue and had to repeat himself several times. Tom and I realized at the same time what he was saying. He inquired of me, if he could exchange hats with my husband. Tom wanted to know why I was being asked instead of him. The gentleman replied that he knew Tom would say no, but perhaps I’d be willing to work the exchange. I laughed saying I kinda liked my husband in his hat. We all laughed. As he turned to walk away, he told us he was just making fun.
Between Ireland and England, several people approached Tom and asked about his hat. No one had an offer as good as the gentleman in the grocery store.
We had just stepped off the tube one night and were walking toward the exit. There was a gust of wind. I felt my hat move and grabbed it quickly. I mentioned I almost lost my hat. Tom said he saw that. As we continued walking toward the stairs another train blew through the station on the tracks in the opposite direction and Tom’s hat went flying. We were unsuccessful in rescuing it, before it fell into the tracks. We had nothing long enough to retrieve it. After checking the schedule and seeing we had a couple of minutes before the next train was schedule to arrive, Tom carefully lowered himself down to the walkway at the track level, retrieved his hat and scurried back up to the walk level. I breathed a sign of relief when he was standing beside me again. We were on our way up the stairs when the next train came through the station.
We packed up and headed out of Tralee, County Kerry. I’d gotten used to the “green” Ireland offers and had heard so many talk about.
We crested a hill and neither of us could believe what we saw. It did not look like the Ireland we had been introduced to. Our German friends called it a moonscape. I just thought it looked arid and barren.
A couple days later at a local perfumery (more about the perfumery another day), I learned the area is called the Burren and it offers the most diverse vegetation of anywhere in Ireland. There are only a few Irish plants that don’t grow in this area, and there are many only found here. In fact, there is a wild Irish found nowhere but here.
We walked the Burren and I was amazed. The limestone rocks have many cracks, crannies and holes. They are home to various plant life.
I understand why so many consider the Burren to be a very special place.
…a town in juxtaposition of very old and very modern.
I awoke in the heart this town just starting to rouse its self from winter, in preparation for the seasonal tourists, which are sure to arrive. Narrow medieval streets lined with colorful tiny shops filled my morning walk. People bustling about on narrow sidewalks dodging in and out of cars, to get where they are going. Crosswalks exist, but are rarely used. Drivers seem to expect people will pop into the street and cross in front of them.
Yes, this is a village, a very old village. I’m snuggled in the middle of it for a week, and I it’s charming. I almost feel lost in another time and place.
Expanding the exploration outside the old core, are many modern buildings and amenities. In these neighborhoods, the houses are bigger and further apart. The homes have characteristics of the region, but they feel like neighborhoods I’ve been to in many places.
Yet it’s in the very old where I find myself more comfortable. I enjoy walking from place to place. The people feel more connected with each other. They smile as you pass or stop to greet you.
Oddly enough, most my photos are from out of town. Go figure…