I returned home from Ireland in June with 742 new pictures. Some of them will become part of future blog posts, some will end up on Facebook or in my online gallery. Most of them will never leave my computer. One of the challenges I have after each trip is to decide what photo to edit first. This was especially difficult this time as there weren’t any once-in-a-lifetime-photos, nothing that will probably ever grace the pages of a magazine. But, as a complete unit, the pictures tell the story of my trip. Altogether, they capture Ireland. Here is a sample of some of the photos I’ve managed to edit so far. There are still many more to come. Enjoy!
I’m a sentimental girl, an incurable romantic prone to fits of nostalgia. Because of this, I have booked four trips to Ireland looking for…I don’t know. Lost love? A little white cottage with a thatched roof in which I can dream and write? The perfect travel photograph? An actual leprechaun or a metaphorical pot of gold?
I’m the girl who wanders the beaches of the Wild Atlantic Way, collecting shells and rocks. (Choose any jacket from my closet, and you’ll find grains of sand in the pockets.) I’ll pull over every hundred yards or so in County Kerry to capture a memorable vista with my camera. Live music in pubs makes me cry because every song sung in Ireland emanates from the soul of the earth and possesses me. I can’t explain it; it’s something you have to feel.
You know what isn’t romantic to me? Souvenir shops. Mass-produced trinkets or clothing in one of Ireland’s 40 shades of green. If I have to buy it, or it came from some factory in China, I don’t want it. In fact, I don’t even budget for souvenirs. So, it was a big deal that I bought two of them this past October.
One was not my fault. I’d fallen under the enchantment of a Spanish busker crooning out the most beautiful rendition of Hallelujah in the middle of Grafton Street, and, wiping tears from my eyes, turned over my last ten Euro to buy his CD. Now that I’m home, though, and the thrall has lifted, the CD makes me laugh because his Spanish accent reminds me of Antonio Banderas singing Livin’ La Vida Loca as Puss in Boots and nothing at all of that night in Dublin.
My second souvenir was a pewter pendant with my name stamped out in ancient Ogham script. Yes, it’s totally touristy. Locals don’t do this, but there was this guy sitting in front of Poulnabrone Dolmen in County Clare, and he had this Druid air about him, a table full of tools, and a good story about how he was an artist and got robbed while sleeping on the streets of Galway this one time… Pull at my heartstrings! Good-bye 20 Euro.
Ogham gets it’s name from Ogma, the Celtic God of Eloquence and Literature, and it was a form of writing used in Ireland between the 4th and 7th centuries.
Ogham, thought to have magical overtones, was common among the Druids. How could I resist buying a pendant with a magical language on it?
I suppose the real story is, though, that I have a soft spot for artists who are simply trying to eke out an existence. I picture them back at their meager apartments or the couches on which they surf in the homes of friends or tired relatives who wish they’d pick a real career, and I feel sorry for them. So I buy their wares and hope they can continue to create and find happiness.
Like I said, incurable romantic.
Dolmens, also known as portal tombs, generally consist of at least two upright stones that support a capstone. Rising dramatically above the limestone pavement of the Burren, Poulnabrone is the most widely photographed of all the Irish dolmens and dates back over 2,500 years. Found within its chamber were the remains of over 20 people, including a baby and six children. It’s name means, “hole of sorrows”.
On Monday I drove from County Kerry to County Clare, Ireland, and I’m now staying in the little tourist town of Doolin, a 5 minute drive from the Cliffs of Moher. After a grueling 4 hour drive, I checked into The Half Door Bed and Breakfast. If ever you happen to be in Doolin, you will want to stay here. Upon arrival, the owner, Anne, made me a pot of tea – which really hit the spot as the rains rolled in and the wind picked up. I felt right at home!
Last night, the wind blew so hard the rain stung when it hit my face, so taking pictures was out of the question. I camped out in Mcdermott’s Bar and Grill instead, where a young man asked if I would hire him to be my leprechaun. He said for a meager $100 a week, he would grant all of my wishes and cook me bacon and cabbage. I told him I wasn’t hiring. He told me my Irish accent wasn’t that good. After 1 1/2 Guinness, I returned to my B&B to get some peace and quiet.
When I woke up this morning, the sun was shining! Even though I wanted to chat with the other guests and enjoy my full Irish breakfast, I ate quickly and then hit the road to see the Cliffs of Moher and some other popular destinations before the hordes of tourists descended upon them.
The Cliffs of Moher were easy enough to find, but Poulnabrone Dolmen was hidden out in the middle of County Clare, and I can’t tell you how many wrong turns I made trying to find it. Finally, I asked a tour driver, who had stopped his van to let his passengers take a picture of the castle above with the rainbow. He said he was heading there next, and because I was a redhead I could follow him. Ha. Good thing, because I would have driven right past it!