Monday, December 1, 2008

A breath of Ireland


We spent four days in Ireland over the Thanksgiving holiday and it took our breath away. Such a lovely gem perched out there in the north Atlantic and such ancient history it holds.

There were castles. The one in the picure is Classiebawn Castle on Mullaghmore Head in County Sligo on the edge of the Atlantic and just across the bay from County Donegal. The castle was the home of Lord Mountbatten.

There were ancient standing stones. This circle is called the Grange Stone Circle and dates back 4000 years. It is beside Loch Gur where artifacts and signs of civilization dating back to 3500 B.C. have been found. In a few weeks on the day of the winter solstice, if the sky is clear the sun will rise directly over one of the stones. A half a year from now on the summer solstice, if the sky is clear the sun will rise directly over a different stone. People camp out in the fields every year to experience the solstice sun rise.

There were pastoral farms where I expected to see James Herriot emerging from the barn, rolling down his sleeves and chatting with the farmer. While there were many sheep and cows grazing along the country roads, I think there are less farms in Ireland than there used to be. There seems to be a new affluence in Ireland with subdivisions full of expensive houses that could be in San Antonio as easily as Galway. The subdivisions sprawl over ancient hills and Dublin seemed like a fashion center.

There were new friends who seemed like old friends with whom we shared a coal fire, a delicious meal and a couple of hours of conversation. Mater, made famous by her daughter's writings, hosted us in her beautiful home and along with her Cousin shared the secrets of their historic community. They were so friendly and gracious--the Irish people are everything that they are reputed to be: Friendly, gregarious, conversational and witty.

We put a thousand kilometers on our rental car in our short visit--so much to see and so much to go back to.

13 comments:

Kallen305 said...

Fabulous photos. I love the first one. Very neat story about the stones.

I am glad you made new friends and had a wonderful time. I have always wanted to visit Ireland

The Texican said...

Glad you had a safe trip and were able to go by and see Mater. Ireland is on our list of places to visit. Roots and all that. Pappy

TheElementary said...

Welcome back. I love the shadow photo- stone circle tinged with frost.
I was fascinated by your observations on Ireland's changes, about the farms and buildings. I like that it's a wealthier country now but wish they knew how to hold on to what makes it beautiful and appealing. It makes me sad. But the world is always changing and I suppose we just have to go along with the natural course of things.
What a beautifully-written adventure.

Ruth said...

You photos look frosty! I would love to take a historical tour of the British Isles, but it would take more than 4 days. I am sure you will be back.

NCmountainwoman said...

Lovely photographs. I especially love the stones. Such things have always fascinated me. Nice taste of Ireland.

Carey's Corner said...

Glad you had a safe and enjoyable trip. Have a good week. Tell the folks to not slip slide away on those trips to the store.

beckie said...

Beth, you are so right-breath taking! How wonderful for you to see so many lovely sights and experience the hospitality of such a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

KGMom said...

Ireland for Thanksgiving. Hmmm-there's a thought.
It's a lovely country to visit, whatever the season or reason.

Jayne said...

Oh Beth, I am soooooo jealous. :c) Ireland has always been such a dream destination for me. I know someday I'll go there. Can't wait to hear more about your adventures. Welcome home!

SJ said...

Looks like you had an amazing and quick vacation. Can't wait to hear more about it and see all of the pictures.

RuthieJ said...

and there was knitting and yarn shops too, right Beth?

Thanks for sharing images of your trip. Ireland is one of the top 3 overseas destinations I hope to get the chance to visit someday (along with Norway and Scotland)

Marianne said...

Ireland tops my list of places to see....when the raod rises up to meet me! Such gorgeous photos, thanks Beth.

Larry said...

I would like to visit Ireland some day.-My great great grandfather was a Blacksmith in County Cork.It would be interesting to see if I could track down some of my relatives.-I hear the fishing is good there and I'm sure that I could see a few birds as well.-Nice photos in your post