Ireland is an addictive place. It’s a beautiful country filled with brilliant and kind-hearted people. As someone my mother met said, “If the Irish were any more laid back, they’d be horizontal.”
I must give most of the credit for the below pictures to my mother. She acted as our photographer for most of the week. This is evident as most of the pictures include my dad and I. She took heaps of pictures and below I’ve posted my favorites from the week. There are plenty, so feel free to look at some, read my comments, and stop back later to view the rest.
This is me leaving the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) station in Howth. I met my parents early Saturday morning. Notice my enormous backpack. As the days pass, I’m not loosing luggage, but gaining more. Namely, a tent and a daypack (thanks Bec!).
The harbor in Howth. Howth (pronounced Howt) is essentially a suburb northeast of Dubin.
Our first pints of Guinness. Plenty more were to be had over the next week. By one or two each day, we were ready for our ‘Guinness Stop’ at whatever local pub we came across. Drinking, a way of life in Ireland. It’s okay though, because Guiness is good for you. Seriously. The only morning we struggled with a hangover was the morning after the only night we drank anything but Guinness. The last night my parents were in the country, we had a bottle of red wine with dinner. Next morning? Headaches. One point Guinness.
Our first scenic stop. Glendalough (The Glen of Two Lakes) in the Wicklow Mountains of County Wicklow.
Dad and I at the Blarney Castle in County Cork.
Blarney Castle. Notice Dad’s eyes are closed. You will find this to be a common theme in his pictures…
Dad, kissing the Blarney Stone. “There is a stone there, That whoever kisses, oh he never misses, to grow eloquent.”
Dad and I at Charles Fort outside of Kinsale. An impressive site, this star shaped fort was built in the 17th century.
One of our many Guinness stops.
Mom and I outside of a bar / bed & breakfast we stayed at one night.
Oh, it looks like we should go … These sign posts are a common site in Ireland. In more rural areas, you often can’t even rely on the directions they provide. Be it wind or teenagers, the signs often point in the wrong direction.
Sheep (in case you didn’t know). Plenty of sheep in Ireland. The vast majority of them have colors dyed into their wool. Why? We’re not entirely sure. In Cong, we met a young man at a pub who was a farmer. My mother asked him why some of the sheep have purple or other colors dyed into their wool. “No ma’am, we don’t have no purple sheep in Ireland.” He wasn’t the smartest lad in the pub, to say the least.
A spacious, country road. Plenty of room to meet oncoming traffic.
View from the Ring of Kerry.
Ring of Kerry.
Behind us, you see the remains of some old fortification. A castle? A monastic site? I don’t remember. The amount history in Ireland is fascinating. Everywhere you look, there are remains of an ancient building of some sort.
In the distance you can see the Skellig Islands.
Skellig Michael. We took an hour long boat ride to the Skelligs with the hope of spending the afternoon there. Unfortunately, the seas had other plans. It was too rough to land.
By the time we got back, my jeans were soaked (and remained this way for the next five days).
Looking quite American in my plaid, colorful, shorts and chacos.
A castle outside of Doolin. We took a shortcut on the way from the Rink of Kerry to Doolin. Mom was convinced we were lost. Fair assumption, as we were traveling down roads through cattle fields that were getting smaller, and smaller. But, she was wrong.
Enjoying a pint in Doolin.
A great trad session. We had brilliant luck with finding some wonderful traditional Irish music. It’s hit or miss, but the best sessions are impromptu, with locals showing up throughout the night.
The beginning of our hike from Doolin to the Cliffs of Moher. We left on a cold, wet morning. Not twenty minutes into our hike, Dad stepped into a cow pie and Mom a boggy puddle. We took an indirect route to the Cliffs – along the way, we dodged many cow pies, attempted to avoid the bogs, and ducked under electric fences. Only with me in Ireland.
Midway through the hike. A lunch break of sandwiches, crisps, and red wine.
Dad peering over the edge of a six hundred foot cliff. What?!
A small fishing village. Roundstone. This picture was taken mid-morning. Probably around 10. Low tide. Notice the red boat.
The same boat at around 5pm. High tide. According the fishermen we talked with, at this time of year, there is a sixteen foot vertical change in the tides. Fascinating.
Said fisherman, weighing the day’s catch of shrimp.
Pints in Roundstone.
View from ‘Sky Road’ in the Connemara. The night before we headed north to the Connemara, we met an old, drunk, lobster fisherman in a pub in Spiddel. We asked him about the Sky Road. “Oh, it’s a beautiful sight to see. Yes, the Sky Road, it brings tears to my eyes just to tink about it.’
On the way to the Aran Islands. We spent the day on Innishmore, the largest of the three islands off the coast of Galway (8miles x 3miles). The island is inhabited by few and provides the ideal setting to spend the day biking along its beaches, walking along its cliffs, and taking in its peaceful beauty. Unless, of course it blows and rains all day long …
… which it did.
Innishmore is covered with miles and miles of stone fences.
On our bikes, more stone fences behind us.
There isn’t anything too special about this picture, other than the story that lies behind it. For as beautiful as the island was, we picked a horrible day to bike around it. It was cold. It was rainy. It was windy. By the end of the day, Dad was a bit frustrated. In addition to the weather, we did a fare amount of biking – it really did seem like we biked slightly uphill the entire day. I didn’t mind, but it may have been a little too much exercise for dad considering we were on holiday. So, you can see Dad’s a bit perturbed in this picture. To be fair, I was somewhat stressed as I had to make a decision on working for face2face or not. But, then dad had the audacity to say, “You seem a bit surly.” Dad, you were the surly one! Anyway, this was moments after.
Empty kegs strewn about the pub
The view behind our b&b in Cong.
The grounds of the Ashfurd Castle outside of Cong. This 13th Century castle was once owned by the Guinness family and now serves as a luxury hotel.
We didn’t have a chance to go inside, but you can see the place is class.
The last day my parents were in Ireland, we hiked Crough Patrick (seen in the background). Located just outside of Westport in County Mayo, this 2,510 foot mountain is climbed by some 20,000+ religious pilgrims each year (many barefoot). Saint Patrick is said to have fasted at the summit for forty days and forty nights.
Matthew and Mark at the summit (not pictured here, Luke and John)