Ireland – by popular demand

Photo by Jill Beach

The only way to really get to know a country is to wander the back roads by car and the only way to enjoy it fully is to make the trip with friends.

In 2004 I was lucky to be invited along by two other friends to join their two friends I’d never met!

By the time 5 people have spent two weeks sharing space in two tiny European Fords you get to know them very well.  And…especially when you are exposed to their innermost feelings when they hit the curb (left side driving you know), get lost in the roundabout, and then critiqued pictures every evening while sharing a wee touch of the scotch.

By the way, the five of us took over 3000 (yep, that’s right – three thousand) pictures!

It was a great learning experience!  I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

This was my second trip to Ireland; the first in the 80’s during a really “down” economic situation.  This time the economy was booming, and the changes were obvious.  Some not for the better as far as I was concerned.  I missed the “old” Irish Pub atmosphere and  disappointed the “ploughman’s lunch “ had been so Americanized.  No longer were the “Locals” fiddling and singing the old Irish ditties.  I guess the new stuff/new artists were good, but I really did miss the real/old sounds of Ireland.

Passing the time of day with friends

My absolutely most favorite Irish Day was spent walking across the little island of Inishboffin, while trying not to limp and let my friends know what a wimp I was.  My jeans covered my mashed knee from a clumsy fall the night before.  We took a small ferry on very rough seas from the mainland.  An ancient church, a small café (on the other side of the island), fishermen and sheep ranches made up the economics of the area.  It was a heavenly day with best friends and an Ireland most people never have the opportunity to see.

I cannot fail to mention “Roundstone”, a small fishing village in Connemara where we spent several days.  The old Ireland I enjoyed so much was still in much in evidence. Small, locally owned shops line the one main street through the town. Butcher shops, grocers, pubs, B&B’s beckoned the nosy tourists (Tom, Faye, Ron, Jill and especially Jacque).

If I ever have a chance to go back to Ireland, Roundstone and Inishboffin are top of my list. And my advice to you when you go to Ireland?  Get away from the Blarney Stone type areas, put on your walking shoes, talk to the people and their animals, visit the graveyards and pubs.  See the real Ireland!

Thank you Tom, Ron, Faye & Jill for inviting me along

picture by Ron Mayhew

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