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My Emerald Isle Pilgrimage (part one)

June 10, 2012

When I was a child, I never gave much thought to my heritage. My family didn’t celebrate any specific traditions or talk about our ancestors. I’d always answer the question with “I’m American.”

I decided to discover Ireland last year though, and not with my husband or my kids, but with my mom. I needed the escape. I yearned for the connection. And she was the only person with whom I wanted to share this journey.

We’d see as much of the country as possible, and no tour groups! We’d split the driving. That’s what we thought anyway. But, hey, Mom, we were in Ireland!

So map in hand, she became the navigator and I the pilot of J.J., the tiny Nissan Micra we nicknamed after Irish writer James Joyce. Driving on the other side of the road, seriously? Took about 10 minutes to get used to it.

The Nissan Micra I drove around Ireland with my mom

After our only squabble from the airport – to figure out where the hell we were and where we were going, we arrived at Croke Park Hotel, just next to the famous Croke Park Stadium. And it was only 8 a.m.!

Overtired from the flight, yet afraid we’d miss our only city day, we boarded the Hop On Hop Off bus downtown for a 90-minute 27-stop tour. Seemed the perfect way to see Dublin before deciding the key spots to investigate.

The Old Library and the famous Book of Kells at Trinity College were a must. I just loved the ornately illustrated manuscript and bought as many bookmarks of initials for friends and family in the same insular art script as I could. Then we headed to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the largest church in Ireland, to marvel the monuments and the great stained glass.

I cautioned my mother not to talk to everyone she encountered, but she couldn’t seem to help herself. And I soon realized that this affliction might just be an Irish thing. We met Molly Malone, the most photographed woman in Ireland, and a sweet, capped man who cunningly convinced mom to pose with them. He had her wearing his hat, gave her tips on Irish music to download from the Internet and left us both laughing.

We observed the colorful doors of Dublin – and heard varying versions on why they exist – and rode past the Guinness Storehouse leaning on each other as sleep nearly overtook us.

We walked back to the hotel stopping to ask directions from a shop keeper, enjoyed an early dinner at the hotel and went straight to bed.

The next day in Waterford, we discovered Berfranks Café, Deli and Wine Shop. An absolutely yummy surprise! Even though the staff didn’t seem the friendliest, it didn’t stop my mom from asking to take their picture. And they happily obliged. Our b and b, just a few miles farther, set along a country road provided lovely views of cows in green fields. Chickens even roamed the back yard.

After tea with our innkeeper, we walked to the nearby shops, met a delightful young florist and ate at Haughton’s Pub for dinner.Irish muesli, with huge nut and fruit pieces, was our fuel the following morning. Up for some adventure we followed signs to a farmers’ market, on the serene grounds of Nano Nagle Centre in Linsmore. After a lovely chat with one of the resident nuns, (see I told you it was an Irish thing,) and some jars of fresh fruit preserves, we were off.

Hunger drove us to a crowded pub somewhere between Lismore and Killarney (we’re still not sure where). When I ordered a pot of tea and a glass of ice with my chicken salad sandwich, I got some odd stares. Seems they don’t ice tea in Ireland. But a few laughs later, we were the center of attention. My mom even landed behind the bar, at the behest of the owner, tapping a Guinness for a grateful local.

By the time we reached Muckross Riding Stables B & B in Killarney, I literally collapsed on the bed. But the gorgeous setting and the adorable farm animals were irresistible. All just waiting to be photographed. After an hour nap I wandered about and made some new friends, like the playful little donkey who posed just for me.

read part 2

4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 16, 2012 7:14 pm

    So good that I shared on witty herald’s facebook page!
    Keep the good work!


  1. My Emerald Isle Pilgrimage part two « beingbailey

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