Monday, August 2, 2010

My Amazing Week!

Our cottage in the Galty Mountains
I’m home. It feels good, but at the same time it is difficult to face reality after such a perfect adventure. Our last week was filled with more castles, more magic, and more scenic landscapes. The highlights were kissing the Blarney Stone, visiting the cliffs of Moher, and staying in a delightful cottage in the Galty mountains near a wee village called Skeheenarinky. (I didn't make that up! It's the real name.)

The Cliffs of Moher
The highlight on Monday was a visit to the Rock of Cashel, an ancient fortified cathedral with hints of the once ornate and magnificent building still visible. Tuesday was a long day that started early with a drive to the Cliffs of Moher, then a drive to Ballyvaughn which revealed a very different look to Ireland with its stark stone mountains of gray rock. From there we went on to a quaint folk park at Bunratty castle. The reconstructed village around the old castle had homes from all around Ireland and gave us a good feel for the history of the living conditions of the people.

One of the things I’ve been struck with on this trip is how people throughout time have been searching for God and trying in their own ways to worship Him. Too often we learn about and talk about the people who misused religion for their own purposes or to get gain, but the average man has been honestly seeking and their sincerity and desire is evident in the things they left behind. A touching example of what I’m trying to explain occurred while at Bunratty. One of the features of Bunratty is an old country church and as I left the building I passed a woman holding the hand of a toddler going into the church and as she stepped over the threshold she crossed herself. I was touched by her reverence. In this historical setting—in a church no longer used for religious purposes but for educational and entertainment—she honored the Person the building was intended to honor.

The Irish Night at Bunratty
That night D8 (she was an incredible tour guide!) had arranged for us to attend a traditional Irish night at the Bunratty corn barn which was delightful (another understatement!). We were served dinner by the entertainers. Most people had traditional Irish stew, but I had a vegetable tart which melted in my mouth and lingered so that if I close my eyes and concentrate I can still taste it. Between courses and after the dinner, the waiters and waitresses performed traditional Irish songs and dances. One of the dancers was the European National Dance Champion and they were all very talented. We laughed, sang along, and enjoyed every minute.

Me kissing the Blarney Stone
We didn’t get back to our cottage until midnight and so Wednesday we slept in a bit and then headed for Cork where we kissed the Blarney Stone—something I’ve heard about all my life yet knew nothing about. The stone is the top stone of a castle window (Blarney Castle) and is about four or five stories above ground! You slide under it, upside down, and kiss it in order to be blessed with the gift of eloquence. As I dangled upside down and backwards and saw the earth far below me I wondered who in the world had made up all this malarkey! Getting back up was the hard part. Dizzy is an understatement, but I survived!

The wee spot of light defines the B. Stone.
We returned to Cahir, which is the nearest village to where we are staying and wanted to find a place to have traditional fish and chips. When we asked a policeman where there were any, he laughed at us and pointed out the two best places to eat—one an Italian restaurant and the other in the old Chair hotel. We did finally find someplace that sold fish and chips, but it was served to us by a Moldavian who spoke broken English with a heavy accent. So much for cultural distinctiveness. They used to say the US was a melting pot, but now the whole world has become a melting pot.

Thursday we saw the local sights, a fascinating cave, Cahir castle, and a Swiss cottage. Friday D8 Carl and I went on to Dublin to see Newgrange and the book of Kells at Trinity College, which I’ve already told you about.

As I’ve said over and over, this has been a dream come true. I’ve wanted to see Ireland since I was a little girl reading about leprechauns and now I’ve seen it. The surprising thing is that most things I dream about for years like that turn out to be a disappointment—less than the dreams. But Ireland exceeded my expectations. I’ve learned so much (even more about living in Truth which I’ll share later) and enjoyed every moment. I hope all of your dreams come true in the same way! It is sad to see this come to an end, but as the Irish say, “All happy endings are beginnings as well."


Connie said...

Welcome back...I have thoroughly enjoyed your trip vicariously :)

Anonymous said...

So glad you're back and that you did so well. It was a blessing for all of us as we were able to enjoy your journey with you. Thank you so much!! It's nice to know we're never too old for dreams to come true. As you get back to your regular life, I hope your trip has given you wonderful memories to recall any time you like.

Anissa said...

Welcome back! I can't wait to talk to you more about your trip and I am so happy that your foot didn't give you any major problems while there. The luck of the Irish was with you!

Kristi said...

WOw wow wow! What an amazing trip! I very much enjoyed your stories of Palmyra (which I have seen and loved) and Ireland (which I hope to someday see and love).

Laresa said...

I am so proud of you that you kissed the Blarney Stone. What a great adventure!