We made it to Ireland despite my fears of flying in this dangerous world, and we are so glad we did. It isn’t often a couple celebrates 40 years, so we decided to do it up big. Fifty years aren’t guaranteed to anybody, so we are marking the milestones in 5-year increments!
The first thing we realized when we got to Dublin was that we were going to have to take it easy. No rushing, no hurry anywhere. That is because except for the motorways, traveling is very slow—-around 35 miles per hour. The roads are lined with rock walls which I was sure we would hit at any minute; they are winding; and they are narrow. Frankly, I was glad for the slowdown in pace. Larry did a fine job driving on the left and I managed to navigate him through the hundreds of roundabouts we encountered in the course of a week. Roundabouts are more common than intersections with traffic lights and you have to be alert to stay the course. And due to snow and ice storms the week before we arrived, the roads are full of potholes, making driving more difficult than usual.
The landscape begs you to take it all in slowly. I couldn’t get enough of those Irish hills mapped out with rock walls everywhere. There were roadside shrines to stop and see, and breathtaking views of steep cliffs dropping right into the sea. There were lovely beaches, and of course, there were the lovely little villages which begged you to stop for a walk and a visit to the local church.
Perhaps because of the dreary weather, the Irish use a lot of bright colors to decorate their churches and homes, inside and out. One of the B&Bs we stayed in had an orange living room. I think hot pink was used in every breakfast room and elsewhere the colors were equally as bold. It was delightful to go from room to room because we never knew what color would greet us.
And the people lived up to the reputation the Irish have for friendliness. More so in Galway than in Killarney, but most of the people everywhere were cordial and helpful. Their pace is more relaxed than in the States, and we didn’t encounter many people in a hurry or racing down the road in their cars.
I loved it all, but perhaps most of all, I was overwhelmed by the kinship I felt with the early Christians who inhabited Ireland from the very early days of Christianity. Visiting beehive “houses” and seeing the rocky points of Skellig Michael in the distance made me so proud of the lasting heritage of Catholic Christianity in Ireland. Those people put up with Viking invasions, hostile weather, conflicts with pagans and then the forces of Cromwell who was determined to wipe out the Church. He didn’t succeed but the ruins are everywhere and I have continued to ponder the lives of those determined people.
A few pictures will illustrate what I have described:
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