Green hills of smiles

Ireland Travel Blog

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From the moment I stepped off the plane, I knew Ireland would be different from all of my previous adventures.  The Irish air greeted me as the rain does after washing away the city’s smog.  The air was clean and resembled the organic smell of freshly cut grass.  I hadn’t realized how polluted Paris was until I was breathing in the clean air of Ireland. 

 

After picking up my rental car and adjusting my mindset to driving on the opposite side of the road and on the opposite side of the car with a stick shift, I headed in the general direction of the city of Trim.  It didn’t take too long for me to figure out that street signs are not a necessary part of Irish culture.  I also discovered that U-turns are a thing of the past in Ireland.  (Here’s a hint: If you are not sure which direction to go in when you reach a round-about, you can always circle it until you are ready to decide…or until vertigo sets in.) :) After stressing out over what street to take, what village I was in and which direction I was headed in, I finally decided to just enjoy the ride.  :)  I’ve never enjoyed being lost so much.  After I stopped worrying, I was able to take in the beautiful scenery.  And oh my, it was beautiful!  I’ve heard people say that Ireland is very green…but the green in Ireland was unlike anything that I’ve seen before.  The combination of sun, rain, mist and cool air creates a concoction of greenery truly unique to the Island. 

 

Trim castle and hotel were still there when I arrived nearly 3 hrs later than I had planned.  I arrived early enough to catch the last tour of Trim castle.  It was fascinating!  The history-nerd in me loved the details of the creation, success, modifications, decorations, purpose, and finally renovation of the oldest castle in Ireland.  Located only a short distance from the first church built in Ireland (in 452AD), it was a historical land mine. 

 

Later that evening, I headed down to the local store to pick up some postcards and shampoo.  I suppose the postcards gave me away as a tourist because the shopkeeper started a loud a boisterous conversation about the beautiful things of Ireland.  His smiling eyes and cheery disposition quickly put me at ease as he drew me a “map” of Ireland with all the spots that I just had to see!  He was excited to show me and tell me about his homeland and I was just as excited to listen!  :)  Nearly an hour had passed when he asked me to join him and his friends for a drink at the local pub that night.  Only 3 hours of sleep from the previous night and hours of driving in a foreign country (and a foreign car) had left me completely exhausted.  I kindly declined the invitation but promised that I would visit a pub at some point during my visit to Ireland.  (I think a small part of me was afraid that I might run into more old men!)  lol  :D   (See Paris blog.)

 

The next morning, I ate a lovely Irish breakfast. (Hint to future travelers: Avoid “Black pudding.”  It is neither pudding nor sweet.  It’s a deceiving name for blood sausage!)  Then I hit the road, prayed for navigational wisdom, and headed towards the west-coast city of Galway.  I easily found my way to Galway and meandered around the downtown streets for a few hours.  The misty weather mingled with cool air made it feel more like early springtime.  The annual boat festival filled the streets with curious families and the occasional music group gave the city an authentic, folksy feel. 

 

An excursion to the Cliffs of Moher was the next adventure on my list.  I lingered in Galway a bit longer and then headed south, along the coast, to the cliffs.  The unusual weather gave the drive a bit of an eerie ambiance.  The occasional graveyard littered with Celtic crosses or ruined castle made the drive feel more like an adventure than a drive from point A to point B on the map.  I decided to hug the coast which ultimately meant that I got lost more but it also meant that I was off the beaten path.  I saw things that few directionally-blessed tourists ever do.  Some of my favorite memories took place while I was “lost.” 

 

The Cliffs of Moher were breath-taking. The pounding of the Atlantic waters against the cliffs, that jutted straight out of the water, resonated throughout my body.  Sitting there, the cool mist on my face, puffins singing through the air, water rhythmically and aggressively pounding against the rocky, Island-earth…I was left speechless.  Words can’t describe experiences like this.  There are a few places in the world where words truly seem to fail. The Grand Canyon, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower and now the Cliffs of Moher are on my list.  It was almost a spiritual experience.  Witnessing such raw, organic power coupled with the beautiful delicacy of the island left a fingerprint on my soul. 

 

Despite the cool wind and misty air, I could have stayed there all evening and through the night.  However the sun was going down and a quaint, country B&B awaited me.  I headed south of Limerick and spent the night in a rustic, 19th century home. The morning greeted me with Irish smiles, small talk and another fantastic Irish breakfast (minus the “black pudding” of course!) Then I headed back toward Dublin on the east coast for a day in Ireland’s largest city. 

 

Although, it’s the largest and most diverse city in Ireland, Dublin prides itself in maintaining a firm grasp of its Irish history.  The Dublin Writer’s Museum, 1916 Memorial, Christ Church, Dublin Castle, St. Patricks Cathedral and Trinity College all speak loudly of Dublin’s past.  From exploring the Book of Kells and the footsteps of St Patrick, a true missionary, to retracing the footprints of Irish creativity and passions, I discovered more about the people and the place that I had come to love so much. 

 

If the buildings of Dublin spoke of its history, the Temple Bar area spoke of its people’s happy-go-lucky attitude and welcoming mannerisms. This is where the songs are sung, a pint is drunk and new friends are made. 

 

I had hoped that this trip would be an oasis of sorts.  A place where I could meditate and read Scripture, focus on the Lord’s beautiful handiwork and pray over the Land of my Ancestors.  But, it was so much more…

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From the moment I stepped off the plane, I knew Ireland would be different from all of my previous adventures.  The Irish air greeted me as the rain does after washing away the city’s smog.  The air was clean and resembled the organic smell of freshly cut grass.  I hadn’t realized how polluted Paris was until I was breathing in the clean air of Ireland. 

 

After picking up my rental car and adjusting my mindset to driving on the opposite side of the road and on the opposite side of the car with a stick shift, I headed in the general direction of the city of Trim.  It didn’t take too long for me to figure out that street signs are not a necessary part of Irish culture.  I also discovered that U-turns are a thing of the past in Ireland.  (Here’s a hint: If you are not sure which direction to go in when you reach a round-about, you can always circle it until you are ready to decide…or until vertigo sets in.) J After stressing out over what street to take, what village I was in and which direction I was headed in, I finally decided to just enjoy the ride.  :)  I’ve never enjoyed being lost so much.  After I stopped worrying, I was able to take in the beautiful scenery.  And oh my, it was beautiful!  I’ve heard people say that Ireland is very green…but the green in Ireland was unlike anything that I’ve seen before.  The combination of sun, rain, mist and cool air creates a concoction of greenery truly unique to the Island. 

 

Trim castle and hotel were still there when I arrived nearly 3 hrs later than I had planned.  I arrived early enough to catch the last tour of Trim castle.  It was fascinating!  The history-nerd in me loved the details of the creation, success, modifications, decorations, purpose, and finally renovation of the oldest castle in Ireland.  Located only a short distance from the first church built in Ireland (in 452AD), it was a historical land mine. 

 

Later that evening, I headed down to the local store to pick up some postcards and shampoo.  I suppose the postcards gave me away as a tourist because the shopkeeper started a loud a boisterous conversation about the beautiful things of Ireland.  His smiling eyes and cheery disposition quickly put me at ease as he drew me a “map” of Ireland with all the spots that I just had to see!  He was excited to show me and tell me about his homeland and I was just as excited to listen!  :)  Nearly an hour had passed when he asked me to join him and his friends for a drink at the local pub that night.  Only 3 hours of sleep from the previous night and hours of driving in a foreign country (and a foreign car) had left me completely exhausted.  I kindly declined the invitation but promised that I would visit a pub at some point during my visit to Ireland.  (I think a small part of me was afraid that I might run into more old men!)  lol  :D (See Paris blog.) 

 

The next morning, I ate a lovely Irish breakfast. (Hint to future travelers: Avoid “Black pudding.”  It is neither pudding nor sweet.  It’s a deceiving name for blood sausage!)  Then I hit the road, prayed for navigational wisdom, and headed towards the west-coast city of Galway.  I easily found my way to Galway and meandered around the downtown streets for a few hours.  The misty weather mingled with cool air made it feel more like early springtime.  The annual boat festival filled the streets with curious families and the occasional music group gave the city an authentic, folksy feel. 

 

An excursion to the Cliffs of Moher was the next adventure on my list.  I lingered in Galway a bit longer and then headed south, along the coast, to the cliffs.  The unusual weather gave the drive a bit of an eerie ambiance.  The occasional graveyard littered with Celtic crosses or ruined castle made the drive feel more like an adventure than a drive from point A to point B on the map.  I decided to hug the coast which ultimately meant that I got lost more but it also meant that I was off the beaten path.  I saw things that few directionally-blessed tourists ever do.  Some of my favorite memories took place while I was “lost.” 

 

The Cliffs of Moher were breath-taking. The pounding of the Atlantic waters against the cliffs, that jutted straight out of the water, resonated throughout my body.  Sitting there, the cool mist on my face, puffins singing through the air, water rhythmically and aggressively pounding against the rocky, Island-earth…I was left speechless.  Words can’t describe experiences like this.  There are a few places in the world where words truly seem to fail. The Grand Canyon, Taj Mahal, Eiffel Tower and now the Cliffs of Moher are on my list.  It was almost a spiritual experience.  Witnessing such raw, organic power coupled with the beautiful delicacy of the island left a fingerprint on my soul. 

 

Despite the cool wind and misty air, I could have stayed there all evening and through the night.  However the sun was going down and a quaint, country B&B awaited me.  I headed south of Limerick and spent the night in a rustic, 19th century home. The morning greeted me with Irish smiles, small talk and another fantastic Irish breakfast (minus the “black pudding” of course!) Then I headed back toward Dublin on the east coast for a day in Ireland’s largest city. 

 

Although, it’s the largest and most diverse city in Ireland, Dublin prides itself in maintaining a firm grasp of its Irish history.  The Dublin Writer’s Museum, 1916 Memorial, Christ Church, Dublin Castle, St. Patricks Cathedral and Trinity College all speak loudly of Dublin’s past.  From exploring the Book of Kells and the footsteps of St Patrick, a true missionary, to retracing the footprints of Irish creativity and passions, I discovered more about the people and the place that I had come to love so much. 

 

If the buildings of Dublin spoke of its history, the Temple Bar area spoke of its people’s happy-go-lucky attitude and welcoming mannerisms. This is where the songs are sung, a pint is drunk and new friends are made. 

 

I had hoped that this trip would be an oasis of sorts.  A place where I could meditate and read Scripture, focus on the Lord’s beautiful handiwork and pray over the Land of my Ancestors.  But, it was so much more…

dothoin says:
nice blog hope you had a nice vacation in the emerald isle :-)
Posted on: Sep 20, 2009
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