Diversions

Travelogue: Ireland

After London, Dublin seemed small. We stayed there for five days but took a couple of tours into the countryside.

Ireland
Temple Bar district, where the price of beer goes up by the hour after 10 pm (so I heard). Bars close at 10 elsewhere, but are allowed to stay open here.

The centre of the city was busy with students and tourists, but just a little ways away it was quiet. You could see the effects of the recession on the city with its empty and half-finished buildings, and on the faces of the people. A lot of them looked a bit worn around the edges. There were ‘to let’ signs everywhere, and very little construction going on besides a few road work projects. That alone was a stark contrast to every other place we visited on our trip.

Ireland
Streets of Dublin

But the countryside was gorgeous. It’s all a lush emerald green, just how you’d imagine it. The highlight of my trip was a visit to the Cliffs of Moher on one day, Newgrange and the Hill of Tara on another day. Moher was spectacular in the way only raw and brutal nature could be. There were signs warning of all the lives that were lost there, and with the wind whipping against my rain coat, I was afraid I might just blow over into the ocean with its giant unforgiving waves.

Ireland
The wind and waves at Moher.

Apparently Tolkien spent some time holed up here while writing Lord of the Rings, and may have been inspired by the landscape. There are 2 towers on the cliffs of Moher. Just a little ways away was the burren, with its rocky, sparse, landscape. On the burren, trees grow sideways because of the incredible wind. In the springtime, it grows with wild flowers, but even barren it was beautifully wild. We lucked out on the weather, but it changes so fast there, that by the time we’d gone a little ways into the burren it was pouring.

Ireland
One of the two towers.

I geeked out over the archaeology and actually getting to go to the places I’ve read about. Unfortunately Newgrange had been vandalized a couple hundred years ago. There was old graffiti everywhere, names carved into the old stone, which was a shame. Inside the tomb, we saw a  re-creation of the winter solstice with an electric light. During solstice the sun fills the center of the tomb with golden light. Every year they allow 16 people into the tomb for the Solstice, and I entered my name into the draw. Maybe I’ll be back? No one’s sure if the facade on the tomb was accurately rebuilt, but the present form is impressive.

Ireland
The tomb at Newgrange

The Hill of Tara was quite a sight. There aren’t many mountains, so from Tara we could see in all directions around for miles. It’s a grave and its a hill. It’s been dug up and covered over again. I didn’t try kicking the Lia Fail (stone of destiny) but I did touch it. The legend goes if you kick the stone and it screams, you’re destined to be the next high king of Ireland. I doubt anyone would appreciate a foreign Canadian girl at that job huh?

Ireland
Monoliths and the green fields of Ireland. You really need to watch your step for sheep poop.

We had a good time there but it was time to go home again. And in case your wondering I did dream of faeries. Perhaps they came to play a few tricks on me. I can tell you about it another time perhaps, but that is a personal story I may be greedy and keep to myself.

Connacht Ireland
A solitary hawthorne tree is considered a fairy tree. You don’t want to disturb it and risk upsetting the good folk that might make it their home. Here’s one tied with offerings (rags and pacifiers) for good luck and wishes.

OH and some of the sterotypes are so true. Every other word we heard was fecking this or fooking that. I swear. And the drinking is pretty intense. There are pubs on every corner and we ran into drunken people at all times of the day and night. The food wasn’t much different from British fare. Meat and potatoes. Hearty beef stews. Beer in pint measures.

It is good to be home again. I need a rest for my liver too.

The full set of Ireland photos is here.

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