Retirement. Mine was going along really well—lots of RV and air travel, working on writing projects, piddling around the house until noon before working on our rental property, tennis, walking, reading good books, caring for my mom, a little charity work. I felt virtuous and satisfied. But now—well—Ireland made me do it. I’ve committed a deadly sin!
Envy. I spent two weeks feeling envious of the lovely, large, aromatic blooms I saw in the yards, fields, cities, and countryside of Ireland. I tried to be good, but every time I thought of my baked flower beds and deck plants at home the hoary hand of envy grabbed at my heart.
Flowers. They add beauty to the ubiquitous stone walls and fences, grow between the stones on the hillsides, and are planted in informal and formal gardens and flower boxes all over the country. Huge blossoms of every color sparkle with moisture.
Adare, a small village with a huge past–a castle, three abbies, and thatch roofed houses have been preserved.
Moisture. Ah, precipitation was omnipresent on this trip, also. Flowers love water and cool weather, normal in Ireland. But this summer was rainier and cooler than normal according to the friendly, talkative Irish residents we met. No tornadoes (it wasn’t Kansas, you know) but we did experience the ends of Hurricanes Irene and Katia as they rounded the Atlantic. Winds and rains made our trip very Irish, I suspect.
Stone. Stone fences, stone walls, stone houses, stone castles—it was everywhere and beautiful. We saw the striking Cliffs of Moher in the rain.
The Burren in County Clare was an amazing moonscape of cracked rocks on the coast of the peninsula, rather misty while we were there.
The Connemara in CountyMayo, most of which is a National Park, has mysterious mountains, appealing peat bogs, and a fairytale castle, beautiful even in the rain.
Kilkenny, County Cork, the Ring of Kerry, and the Dingle Peninsula had so many ancient ruins, reminders of more recent history such as the Potato Famine, and unbelievable views that a little rain and cold couldn’t keep us down.
Pubs. However, I don’t want anyone to think that we spent all of our time in the cold and rain. There are plenty of pubs in Ireland, and we took advantage. My travel companions took to the Guinness like butterflies to nectar, and I tapped my feet and clapped my hands to traditional Irish music as if my limbs had an automatic reflex of their own.
Food. Every pub or restaurant seemed to have its own version of seafood chowder and also of vegetable soup. They were both served with homemade brown bread. I had one of those for lunch or dinner almost every day. Yum! I guess gluttony is also a sin?! I recommend Ireland for indulging oneself in beauty, photography, history, music, food and drink, story telling, and a wickedly good time.