Friday, July 1, 2011

Flashback Friday - Ireland 2001

Although I started blogging back in 2007, I wish I had started years earlier. There are so many pictures, stories and videos I wish I had posted on this, my digital family scrapbook.

So I've decided to use each Friday to post something from the past. I cannot wait to dig into old files to find fun things to post about.  

Ireland 2001:
Scott and I had been trying to start a family for a couple years but, God's timing being God's timing, we found ourselves in a holding pattern. Not ones to let opportunities for fun to pass us by, we purposefully did some traveling.

We visited places around the mid west - St. Louis and Chicago - and took several trips to Florida. In 2000, we went on a two week trek out west but I cannot not find the pictures. So I thought I would start my first Flashback Fridays with our 2001 trip to Ireland.

This trip came at a time when Scott's company was sending him on some international travel. In early 2001, Scott spent 3 weeks in Shenzhen, China and then shortly thereafter he was scheduled to go to Ireland and Amsterdam. We decided I would fly to Ireland to meet him for a week's vacation in the land of leprechauns and fairies.

At this point I must make mention that between Scott's return from China and when he left for Ireland, God's timing became our timing :) The day before Scott left for Ireland, I found out I was pregnant with Eliza Grace!

Scott flew to Dublin from the Netherlands where I met him after my solo flight across the pond. Our flights arrived about 4 hours apart so I had got to snooze on the benches in the Dublin airport. Such the classy world traveler was I.

We did a driving trip that took us from Dublin, along the southern route across to the West coast & Dingle Bay and then back to Dublin for our return flight.

Our rental was a 1.6 liter toy that I could have jogged past when going up hill. This was no race car. And it was tiny. Really tiny. Little did we know that the cars had to be that tiny because, outside of Dublin, every single road in Ireland is one and a half lanes wide and bordered by stone walls on each side. Our goal for the trip was to return the car with both side mirrors intact and by some miracle, we did it!

The only place we made reservations the entire trip was for our last few days in Dublin. Everywhere else we just aimed for a town and when we got there we asked around or followed signs to a local B&B. Of course, this was 2001, the middle of the whole Hoof & Mouth farm animal problem so tourism was a little low.

B&B's in the Irish countryside are a little different from those here in the US. For the most part they were farmhouses in which the owners rented out their kids' rooms while they were at the university. When we would leave one house they would ask where we were headed and then they would stuff our pockets with soda bread (a wee snack for the road) and then give us the name of their relative to stay with on our next stop. Wonderfully friendly people and such pleasure to meet!

Ok, now for the pictures.

Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin.
We went to Trinity College and saw the Book of Kells and took a nighttime Dublin Ghost tour that was a lot of fun.

Completed the requisite Guinness Brewery tour.
We created our Hughes whiskey bottle label at the Jameson Distillery in Middleton, County Cork, home to the worlds largest copper still.We visited plenty of pubs across the country and, as you can imagine, beverage options centered around beer and whiskey. In one place I cited my pregnancy as to why I was not having a pint of Guinness and the bartender looked at me like I was crazy. He said, "So? It'll be healthy for the baby." I still declined.

It was from that fella that we learned the "f" word in Ireland is something that is said as a descriptor in nearly every single sentence spoken. By nearly everyone. It sounded a little less profane with the Irish "au" sound instead of the American "uh" but it still took a while to get used to. We even heard it repeatedly from the family sitting next to us celebrating their daughter's first communion :)

Also, they do not put ice in soft drinks - sacrilege to a American Southerner - so I got funny looks every time I asked.

Our first stop outside of Dublin was to my paternal ancestral home, County Wicklow, which boasts the Wicklow County Gaol known as one of the "most haunted places in Ireland." We noticed the name Kavanagh many times throughout the gaol. Hmmm.

We stopped anywhere we found interesting as we meandered through the lush countryside.

An ancient stone circle.
Crag Cave in County Kerry.
An ancient holy well.
A tribal chieftain chair.
The Gallarus Oratory.
An ancient Viking dwelling.
Michael Connor's grave site.
Even in Ireland I walked through cemeteries.
Our B&B in Blarney, County Cork.
Blarney Castle.
Me kissing the Blarney Stone. Scott wimped out saying he was not about to put his lips where millions of others had. Guess this is why Eliza Grace has the gift of the gab...and then some.
The Town of Dingle, County Cork
The Connor Pass, leaving the Dingle Peninsula, County Kerry. Glacier pools and the clouds below and sheep along the road side. I cannot recall how many times we had to stop for sheep in the middle of the road on this trip, but it was a lot.
It was a fabulous trip and we would love to go back again to see everything that we missed the first time around. Although we both decided we would rather do so via one of those old people bus tours. The stress of driving on the wrong side of very narrow roads about did us in.

Erin Go Bragh!

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