Saturday, March 17, 2012

10 things I loved about Ireland

It's 8:09 and I'm exhausted on this St. Patrick's Day.


To be honest, the only green things I did today was serve them lunch on green plates with green glasses, and there were beans :)

The kids are now in bed but there is a reason little kids need naps...

Moving on.

I've always had a "thing" for Ireland. I don't know when it started but of course, visiting has been on my life list seemingly forever.

A friend is like this about England and one day we were chatting about her thing for England and she said, "you know all the things you imagine about a place? Well, when we came to live here, it was all that but just so much more".

I love it.

Well, when I was first there in 2008, it was like that for me.

All that and then some.

I must confess, I have been addicted to Marian Keyes and Patricia Scanlan novels for years too, and to prepare for my Irish holiday, I stocked up and read lots.

Just to get into the culture a bit, you see.

My favourite part about visiting a new place is the people - how they talk, what they say, what they wear, etc. I'm in heaven just people-watching :)

When I read in one book about how a boy and a girl made a date to meet under the clock at Easons, of course I was tickled when right there it was in front of me.

Anyway, so here are a few of the things I loved!

1. the grey skies and the cold weather. Oh my word, it's just so gloriously grey all the time. Like it looks here when it's about to rain except it's just like that without rain, with rain, whatever.

2. the bright green countryside. It really is that green. Almost unnaturally so like the landscape's been saturated with colour. (I said the other day looking out of my window at work, "this could almost be Ireland if only the grass was a brighter green")

3. Wicklow. If you've watched PS I love you, there's a scene where she walks and bumps into the guy. The scenery is just beautiful. Well, it really is like that. D and I drove up there the first time we were in Ireland and I fell asleep in the car. We arrived and he woke me up. I looked out the window and literally GASPED in wonder. It was (is) breathtaking. So much so that when we went again in 2009 (our pre-babies trip), we booked a tour to take us there again.

4. The drive down to Cork, Kinsale, Limerick, etc. I loved the tiny villages with all the bright coloured shops and the quirky names. The pic of me on my life list page (look on my navigation) was taken at Kinsale.

5. Our hostess at one B&B, Marian. We were deep in the country and this lady was "proper Irish". The thing is, Dublin is so cosmopolitan that you really had to look hard to find a genuine Irish person. And truth be told, our expectations were high because Ireland had just been voted the friendliest city in the world, or something like that. If we'd just stayed in Dublin, I know we'd have been disappointed.

Anyway, this lady was in her late 50s but drove like a maniac. We met her at a common landmark and followed her home. She was all lovely and normal, but when she got behind the wheel of that car, she started driving as if Formula 1. And... our friend kept up. Both of them were normally laidback but the change in driving style was so extreme D and I laughed and laughed hysterically (in terror sometimes!!!) on that windy, 5-minute drive to the B&B.

She was fantastic - baked fresh scones for us every morning (anyone who bakes for me has my heart forever!), set out a lovely breakfast, engaged us enough for us to feel the culture but knew when to step back and let the 3 of us get on with it. And of course, all 4 her kids were called proper Irish names (as in my books) so I was TICKLED when I'd hear her say Declan and Orla. :)

That 3-day trip was one of the highlights of my life. I LOVED every minute of it.

6. The doors. Oh my word, The Doors. I wish I'd taken more pics and been less shy about being a tourist (some of my pics are from the side so as not to be too obvious).


7. Meeting proper Irish people in Dublin and hearing them use phrases I'd only ever heard of in my Irish books. Of course I can't think of any right now except for "I'm after my keys" which means "I'm looking for my keys". And then hearing proper Irish names like Aiofa in the shops.

8. Connecting with our friends. The beauty of the world is that it's been possible for people who all started off in SA and Zimbabwe to live and work all over the world. Two of our good friends live in Ireland. It's so hard to have people you LOVE and that GET YOU spread so far apart. Three years ago, at the time of our last visit, we had 1 baby amongst the 3 sets of people. There are now 6 kids, two sets of twins :)


9. Having endless cups of tea. My one friend and I are copious tea drinkers. We both believe you'll definitely feel better after you have a cuppa. Marian from the B&B was the same and we certainly took her up on that :) Also one of my favourite memories is how C and I kept saying on our 3-day trip, "oh, it feels like it's time for a cup of tea". D would just laugh at us.

10. Blarney. Kissing the Blarney Stone was on my life list and ... I chickened out. I just couldn't do it. You see, it looks like a little gap from far away but when you're up there in the castle, there is a huge gaping hole someone of my (then) small stature could quite easily fall through. It didn't help that the guy working there was all "come on, lass, you'll be alright" and was a bit too blase for my liking. Still, the views from the top of the castle were out of this world, the grounds were GORGEOUS and D kind-of kissed the stone. They have these signboards up there talking about what blarney is. Basically, BS :)

Here are some of my favourite pics from the 2009 trip. Enjoy.

these were taken on a tour we took of Wicklow, Sally Way, etc.
Dublin city centre
Isn't this cool? Sand art
Buskers
see that lady wearing short sleeves in 15-degree weather? Brrr
Henry Street with the Spire of Dublin - that big silver thing
very pregnant (23 weeks)
the fancy side of O'Connell Street
Genuine Irish Pub somewhere in the Temple Bar area
one set of friends. They have another 2 (twins) now.
Our friend, the crazy driver :) and he's as calm and gentle a person as you can get

So, did you do anything special for St Patrick's Day?

Does this post make you want to visit Ireland?

Which country do you have a thing for, and can you tell me why?
PS linking up with Janmary

12 comments:

  1. I have never even considered visiting Ireland but after reading this post I think I'm going to have to add it to the travel list. My DH would LOVE it! He is a pub guy, he has a thing for architecture and he can't stand the sun either so I think he would be in his element! That picture of the Irish pub reminds me of County Clare movie that I just watched. It really does look like that.

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  2. Loved seeing Ireland through your eyes.

    You would have hated (!) the blue sunny skies today - no grey in sight! It is odd to hear someone who loves grey skies!!!!

    We spent today with some American bloggy friends who are nosy suing at our cottage for a couple of nights.


    Hope you make it back to Ireland, so WE can meet up!

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  3. I also have a thing for Ireland, but Scotland more. I'm currently on an Africa kick, but I am fairly sure it will sadly disappoint. Apparently it's not all safari's and savannah like I dream!! Who knew! LOL!

    Today I made copious amounts of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes and didn't puke once! I partook of none. The parade goes past our house but I was working and DH was too lazy to take the girls out. :(

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  4. Love, love, love your pictures and all your romantic notes about Ireland! Our family tree traces back to Ireland, and I've always wanted to visit.

    I'm not sure I have a "thing" about any one country, but if pushed, I'd have to say Russia...having studied it and having studied there for a semester in college. I so look forward to taking the girls one day!

    I think my "thing" is more for a city, or maybe a handful of cities...New York, New Orleans, and San Francisco. Is SF on your life list? I was just thinking about it when you described the skies in Ireland...that's exactly the way it was around the bridge the whole time we were there. It was amazing...all you had to do was drive across the bridge, about 5 miles (at least it seemed) and the skies were sunny and warm. Such awesome geography!

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  5. Oh, and for St. Patty's Day, we bought a book about a leprechaun, had a themed lunch with friends on Tuesday, my shamrock pretzel, a green supper on Saturday, and we're having corned beef and cabbage tonight (a day late). We did one SPD craft. Another will have to be "re-purposed" for spring, as I ran out of time! ;) I just love the holiday themes with the girlies!

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  6. Loved your post! Right now New Zealand still does it for me :-). I feel very blessed to be here. There is lots and lots that I love about the place!

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  7. Wow! It's really gorgeous Marcia.

    I have a few places that I would love to visit. Canada (but not in winter brrr), France (I belueve Spring or Summer is the traditional time to go there?), Mauritius (any time), I'd also love to visit Swaziland and Botswana again.

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  8. We had Guinness and Jameson and Shepard's Pie at our friend's house and let the kids play outside. We brought 4 kids (Phoebe, her friend, and the boys) and they had their one (yes, her name is Jameson and she fits her name with red curly hair and green eyes). It was such a beautiful day!

    And my DH is of Irish-Catholic background, which is why Declan was on our list of names, but we went with Liam. Today, my favorite girl's name is Siobhan. I really wish I could go to Ireland soon!

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  9. Love your pictures and recollections of Ireland! I definitely want to go there eventually. We have family from there at some point along the way.

    My "thing" is for England, and my love only grew after visiting London. I would go back in a heartbeat at ANY time!

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  10. Hubby really wants to go to Ireland, being half Irish. I have a thing for parts of Italy. And France. Mainly due to the big ballet we did nothing for St Paddy's this year

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  11. Looking at your photos gave me a yearning to go travelling. We always had a holiday fund set up. The past few years there were crises in our family and our funds went to Wynand and his family after he lost his sight for a few months...then we started helping to support my parents. Maybe one day we could build it up again, we want to travel every second year...and my feet is itching.

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