Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Room With a View...of Ireland

Just got back from a week in Ireland with loyal friend O'Reilly.
(O'Reilly and O'Brien: almost guaranteed a good time on the Emerald Isle.)
My friend lived in Ireland for 10 years while her Irish husband taught at the university. She had all three of her children there, and left behind a country full of friends. Many of whom we stayed with during our visit. The best way to explore a new country? In the company of locals who love to show off the best of their country.

Here is Ireland through the windows of our guest rooms.

We landed in Shannon airport and headed toward Cashell, a castle and tea and cookies with Mary. She led us on a walking tour of the village, fed us a hearty Irish meal, and was understanding when jet lag took us down early.
The next day took us to Kilkinney to a "girl" castle (fancily furnished as opposed to yesterday's "boy" castle marred by past battles and missing walls).  We landed in County Kildare at Pauline's house, where we immediately had tea, cookies, and a brisk walk through the countryside. We were treated to a barbecue, spent time with her three teenagers who considered everything "lovely" and "brilliant"--two adjectives I may adopt into every day conversation. We slept in their spare rooms, or "Granny Flat", and had Wheatabix and tea for breakfast.

We drove into Naas to see the O'Reilly's former house, church and elementary schools, and stopped in Dunlearaghy for tea and scones. We drove to Dublin to meet Edie and Carmel, who showed us Trinity College, the Book of Kells and Stephen's Green. We arrived back at our rental car to discover our car wheel was being clamped for an expired parking ticket. We put on our best American twang, and somehow the clamp came off and we were welcomed to Ireland with just a warning. We drove on to our new friends' home in Ardee and had fish and chips from the chipper and  a second course of Chinese "take-away".
The next day we drove to their country home in Donnegal. We stopped in Northern Ireland for groceries to make a traditional Irish dinner of salmon, leeks, potatoes and parsnips. Delicious. Followed by a traditional breakfast of rashers, sausage, grilled tomatoes, and eggs. And tea. Lots of tea. Did I mention tea? With milk; no sugar. And I think I am trading in American coffee for Irish tea from now on. Cross my heart.  The rest of the visit included a picnic on the coast, (that included  tea served in china. Sensing a theme here...) a visit to a pub and a beautiful Catholic mass.
We left for Galway where we heard traditional Irish music and shopped in the City Center. The next day brought a visit to the Cliffs of Mohr, lunch in Lahinch where we walked the beach, and drove through Ennis to Shannon. The weather throughout our stay resembled the perfect October day in Texas, and the early June heat of Texas was but a distant memory.
Our last night in Ireland found us at a hotel near the airport for our flight home. A 24-hour day followed that led us through various airports, flight delays, cancelled flights (oh, Atlanta weather: you are so cruel!) and an arrival home that did not include our luggage. (It traveled on without us to Memphis, and continues to visit points north.) This is not a problem since jet lag calls me to stay home and sleep and nap and sleep. Laundry can wait until it arrives in the missing suitcase.

So, now we are home with lots of great memories and pictures. The last picture is just for my daughter who gave us these glasses for the trip with a note that read, "Wear these in Ireland for a picture. The locals will never notice that you are tourists. Really!"

Two happy tourists, home after a great adventure. Failte abhaile. Welcome home. Welcome summer vacation.


Locketts said...

So excited to see pictures from your world travels! What a beautiful, caffeinated trip. You deserve every's to a relaxing summer.

Anonymous said...

So glad you enjoyed your trip to Ireland, especially because you weren't looking forward to it at all!! : )

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Yvonne Herrera

Dawn said...

Oh, I am just ever so slightly green... with envy.

Your trip looks and sounds like it was, well, lovely! I'd love to see all your pictures and hear all your adventure stories sometime. Perhaps we can meet over tea? ;)

kstein said...

oh momma! "Brilliant" pictures of a "lovely" trip! ( Did I use them correctly?) SO glad you and B had a wonderful time. I was praying today and thanked God for this trip for you that he already knew about a year ago, before you even started to make plans...He knew you'd need it! Love the pics of you in the glasses...classic! Love you very much, glad you're home safely and praying luggage will soon follow suit. (PS: next big trip you go on, let's make a deal with each other that you don't call me the night before you leave and say "ok, if i were to die, here are all my passwords and who to talk to about my will...are you listening, kate? No, really, write this down! " I have never prayed for you as much as I did this week...a little unnerving. So, no more of that , okay?") LOVE YOU!

k and c's mom said...

No promises there: do you think Chris would get the details? :)

Lynn said...

So glad to know you are home and had a great time! As you say how could women with such Irish names not have fun in Ireland!! I'll email you over the weekend.