So, back in October, Cheryl and I went to Ireland for 10 days and had a faaaaaaaabulous time. Some of you crack whores have been asking for pictures, so that’s what’s happening here today. I think Cheryl posted a bunch of these on Facebook in order to, you know, make people nervous and edgy about how we might be doing more than they’re doing and Oh My God, Bob, We Never Even Got Past Dickson This Year! and so on. I mean, isn’t making your own life look endlessly glamorous and important in hopes of filling “friends'” lives with bitter angst the whole point of Facebook?
But I digress.
Instead of a day-by-day brain-dessicating detailed itinerary of every little thing we did on our cross-country drive from the stunning Cliffs of Moher, along the rocky coast, through small Guinness-filled crossroads, past ancient stone circles, and all the way to the jaunty music-filled streets of Dublin (angsty yet?), I’m just going to fling some random pictures on here and chat about them. Okay?
Here we go!
Here I am at the entrance of some pretty weird-ass castle where we stayed on our first night way up in Clifden, County Galway. I think we’d been up about 38 hours at this point, but we’d just enjoyed some Tullamore Dew, so I was able to pull off the I Am the Queen, Bitch attitude pretty well. The doorman is just outside of the picture sighing and looking at his watch.
This was on the castle grounds. It was a crumbly stone building with a locked door. We were nowhere near an airport. WTF? However, the view from here looked out over the Galway mountains nearly to the Atlantic. Way to go Cheryl with your “What does it all mean?” stance.
The next day we took the drive along the coast headed to Doolin and made lots of stops at groovy places like….
Deep green forests with brooks and shamrocks and gnomes and stuff…
An old windswept hillside cemetery jam-packed with Celtic crosses and bygone O’Flannagans, Blakes, Sheehans, Joyces, O’Connors, and Murphys.
A stop for “lunch” somewhere near Galway. Though, technically, we’re drinking Smithwick’s here. I shamefully pronounced the “w” the first time I ordered these and the bartender said, “Ah, you’ll be havin’ a Smithicks, then, will ya?” and winked. Irish people are the best. THE BEST. It wasn’t too far from here that, as usual, I was sweating and cursing over the initial horror of driving on the left side (with all the rules and laws similarly reversed) and trying to back out of a blind spot into oncoming traffic (the Irish drive like absolute bats out of hell but are oddly devoid of road rage or aggression. It’s unnerving.) and an elderly woman appeared out of nowhere. She had to have been 80. She stopped the traffic and waved me on, smiling, and cheerily yelling, “I know, dearie! Ya can’t see a focking t’ing!”
So a little further on….
A 900-year-old castle as we moved down into County Clare. And this castle was young comparatively speaking. These things are everywhere. Here in America, we get all tingly and misty-eyed about our few-century history. Pfffffffft…
The Burren. Quite dramatic and otherwordly. You can’t see it, but there are low stone walls going all the way down to the ocean. In fact, nearly 250,000 miles of stone walls exist in western Ireland and many of them serve no purpose whatsoever. But that’s another story.
The Cliffs of Moher! Right here on the edge of the Atlantic with the Aran Islands out to the west. It was hella windy.
How windy was it? Check out my hair! Vertical blowout!
Um. yeah. It wasn’t that windy, Cheryl.
Anyway, beautiful. Austere. Ancient. (And a bit blurry. It was windy, bitches!)
On a side note, we went to a pub in Doolin the night before….Doolin is a very small village with maybe 2 pubs. Anyhoo, there we were drinking Guinness and laughing and shoveling in lamb stew and soda bread and listening to music when, lo and behold, this couple sits down next to us and they’re from NASHVILLE. Are you kidding me? I mean, this is kind of a remote spot and, hello, 4000 miles away. But wait. There’s more! It turns out the chick is a runner and runs a lot of races and we all kind of recognize each other’s names from results (Dorks!). But wait! There’s more! She always runs in MonkeyVille, so there we were chatting about the 11.2 and flying monkeys in fucking Doolin. But wait! There’s more! Her parents live around the corner from us! Naturally, this called for a round of shots.
Slight headaches the next morning around the typical Irish breakfast:
See the black discs? Congealed and fried pig’s blood. Yay!
Onward to Country Kerry and The Ring of Kerry…..
Pictures, as they say, really don’t do justice to the beauty here. Miles of mountains, water, and intermittent rainbows. Even double rainbows. I know it’s cliché, but Ireland really is Rainbow Central. Seriously, rainbows are to Ireland what zebra are to East Africa. (Angsty yet?)
Driving the Ring was a tad harrowing. Roads in Ireland are astoundingly narrow, everyone drives a gazillion miles an hour, and there are no shoulders, only jutting stone walls that mock your American inability to drive any faster than 30 MPH without peeing your pants. Of course, this may have been more terrifying to Cheryl on the passenger side who was mere inches from either stone walls or sheer drop offs.
And directional signage in Ireland is a quaint delight:
Can you say profanity?
Roundabouts were fun too. These were like mega-versions of the ones those morons in Boston have except with signs often in Irish and everything reversed due to left-hand driving. I finally just closed my eyes and honked the horn. It was a good technique.
But all driving stress was relieved by a long day at Killarney National Park…
Near the Lakes of Killarney and the Innisfallen Island. Beautiful words, beautiful place.
Near Muckross (not such a beautiful word, eh?) House. I asked these horses if they worked for Budweiser.
Muckross House and gardens. We had tea and crumpets here and felt really fancy schmancy.
Kenmare, the town where we stayed near the park (sort of). Kenmare totally ruled. It may have been our favorite town. It was the one place we actually went for a run….Down stone streets and then up that hill back behind me where, at the top, was an ancient stone circle from about 500 B.C. We had to stop and touch the stones and think about that before running back down the hill. Awesomeness.
Onward to Kinsale where we drank in one of the the oldest pubs in Ireland, while strolling along the Scilly Walk. This pub, dates back about 600 years. Cheryl’s dreamily envisioning all those billions of pints of yore.
Evening in Kilkenny with a view of Kilkenny Castle from the skylight in our room. Later, much later…like 3 a.m., we heard drove after drove of rowdy swearing groups coming up out of the town from the pubs. Apparently, the town was still REALLY wound up from having just won the All-Ireland Hurling Title. Many young men were running around waving hurling sticks or whatever they’re called. I still don’t really understand what hurling is (I mean, aside from what some of us do at finish lines), but apparently it’s waaaay tougher and manlier than our weenie-ass American football. While we were here, sportscasters were all a-flutter about some hurler dude whose right testicle got disconnected during the championship, but who still continued playing.
Plus these guys get paid next to nothing. So, oh boo hoo, Peyton Manning and your ouchie little neck. Spoiled sissy.
On to Dublin!
We loved Dublin. The majority of people we spoke with advised us to spend as little time as possible in Dublin because it was crowded, noisy, and unpleasant. Granted, it wasn’t the sweeping Cliffs of Moher, but we found it to be friendly, easily navigated, and downright jolly.
Temple Bar! Yay! Clearly, in this picture, I’m overwhelmed by all the pub choices here. We went into one back over by the River Liffey right at the base of the Ha’penny Bridge and the woman playing fiddle asked where we were from. When we told her, she played a flawless version of The Tennessee Waltz.
Yeah, Ireland was The Best! We’ll be back.