A Birthday Trip to Ireland.
The following was entered into one of our Reader Letter Competitions.
Dear Family, we boarded our Aer Lingus flight to Shannon At Baltimore Washington International Airport (a 65th birthday Present from our Six children). Ron and I are full of expectations of what we imagine Ireland to be.
This is our dream come true. As we circle to land at Shannon Airport, a look below reveals the loveliest green landscape. As we deplane in Shannon the first person we encounter smiles and says “Welcome to Ireland can I help you find your ride”? What a wonderful surprise. As we move toward our transportation no one seems to be in a hurry. Our C.I.E. tour driver welcomes us to begin our 10 day tour of Ireland. We will be staying several more days on our own at the end of this first visit.
We are spending our first day in Dublin strolling around the city. I can’t believe how friendly the people are. Everywhere we go everyone is so welcoming and helpful. They stop whatever they are doing to help us find our way. We left our hotel in search of the Temple Bar ( We thought it was a Pub not a whole district.)
As we walked along a young man strolling beside overheard our discussion as to where we were going and offered to walk us to the Temple Bar which was in the opposite direction he had been going. We invited the young man to join us for a pint but he said “the wife was expecting him 2 hrs.earlier” but we should just say hello in the bar and many would be happy to join us. In Dublin we learned how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. Beer tastes the best in Ireland. We had lunch at the O’Neill pub. I really enjoyed seeing my family name on the storefront. I think the O’Neill name in Ireland is as common as Smith or Jones in the USA.
There is so much history on this small Island that one could spend a lifetime investigating it and write several books about the experience. I had wanted to track my O’Neill family but every town and village we visited it seems had an O’Neill prominent in their history. For example when we visited Kinsale the O’Neills and O’Donnells of Ulster in 1601 defeated the Irish Culloden which led to the Flight of the Earls. Most of these towns and villages have survived from medieval times.
This trip we are visiting many of the tourist venues in Ireland, including Dublin Castle, Jameson Whiskey, where Dad became a certified Irish Whiskey taster. Trinity College and the wonderful Book of Kells, The Abbey Tavern in Howth, enjoying grand Irish music and dance, The Rock of Cashel and many more too numerous to mention. Ireland is so rich in history which has influenced the world.
When we travelled to Blarney Castle, we encountered a wedding party on their way to their wedding in Killarney. They permitted us to take their picture and then invited us to the wedding, So many villages each with friendly people and more beautiful than the last. Kenmare, Clonakilty (home of Michael Collins)where we enjoyed a seaside flea market. Everywhere lovely green fields dotted with sheep, goats, and beef cattle, shepherds walking the fields in their knicker suits with dogs watching the flocks and lovely blooming azaleas and rhododendrons in full bloom. Ireland certainly is a “little bit of heaven”. We felt as if we were time travelling back in the 21st century.
The Kerry Bog gave us our first taste and the history of Irish coffee and then on to Killarney. Our good friend in America Patrick McNulty was born and raised in Killarney and at age 91 told me “none is so beautiful as the Lakes of Killarney” and he is right. They are breathtaking.
When you ask me “what was so great about Ireland”? My response is EVERYTHING. The people treat us as if we are family always welcoming and helpful. Irish history is beautiful, awful, inspiring and poetic. It is extremely difficult to describe Ireland in just a few paragraphs. We suggest to our children and grandchildren that you take a trip to Ireland, Any location will do because each has its own beauty and charm and wonderful people. I learned in Ireland about a great inheritance which I received from my ancestors, the gift of gab. Dad says I never shut up and it takes me a very long time to tell a story.
I see humor in everything and I always wondered why I am that way. During this our first trip to Ireland I now know why. It’s my Irish Blood. My creative side is another gift from Ireland. I believe that the Irish were scattered to the four corners of the earth by God, to make the world a better place. They never forget their roots and accept everyone with a grand welcome. All over the world they still share their love of music and art and storytelling. They teach us by their actions that each of us is important in this world.
So many wonderful sights and memories. In conclusion, Dad and I feel as if we will never see all of Ireland and yet we have seen it all because it is beautiful beyond description, the most welcoming country in the world. The final gift from Ireland is that it has shared its people with all the world in order to make us all a little bit Irish.