Six weeks would never be enough time to see all of the Ireland I want to see; nonetheless, six weeks is plenty of time to get my fill of country roads and little towns that are really villages and villages that are better described as a petrol station at a three-way crossing. Then there are the cities – we spent four days in Dublin, three days in Cork and a day in Galway – but for the most part, we were on those country roads, hopping around from one small town to another, hugging the coastline as much as we could.
If you look at the map below, you might be saying to yourself, for all that hugging the coast, you sure spent a lot of time criss-crossing Ireland’s interior. You could blame Van Morrison for that.
The first time we were off to see Van, we drove to Downpatrick, N.I., in the top northeast of the island all the way from Cork, at the very south of the island. We did not plan that one very well. But what a glorious weekend in County Down and well worth the drive. Then three weeks later, it was much the same, making our way from Galway on the west coast to Dublin on the east coast. Van’s Lit Up Inside show at the Olympia in Dublin on December 10 had magical written all over it – Van taking the time to talk about the roots of his music and the focal point of his poetry, followed by an hour of truly sublime music – Celtic Soul Van. It was a beautiful show from start to finish. The music gods were looking out for me this trip – getting to see Van three times was simply vanilla ice cream with a cherry on top of Ireland.
When we weren’t flitting across the country to see Van, we took Ireland at a slower pace, getting into some of the nooks and crannies down yet another country road and around another corner. It’s a picture postcard country.
Here then are some postcards from our trip to Ireland … For a larger view of the scene and its location, just click on the photo.
First up, the water … from the shores of Down to the craggy coastline of Donegal, to the beaches of Kerry and Sligo and the Glendalough lakes.
Birds in the hedgerows and cows, sheep and horses in the fields and up in the hills. And it wouldn’t be Ireland without the requisite traffic jams on the back country roads.
Quaint village streets to glorious churches on the apex of a hill, and further afield, cathedrals, friaries and castles in various stages of ruin … so from the new to the old to the decrepit, the buildings of Ireland.
Bridget and I were often asked why we would come to Ireland at this time of year. It certainly wasn’t because of the foliage. In November and December, all the leaves have fallen, but what remains still gives us pause to reflect on the stately tree.
Rare is the day that doesn’t end with a drink (or two). We quaffed our fair share of Bulmers and Smithwicks, with some Ruby Reds and O’Haras for good measure, but most nights all you’d ever really want is a pint … a pint of Guinness.