Story Time: I Miss You Already, Ireland Monday 09 April, 2012
After a week of roaming the hills and seasides of Ireland, my husband and I touched back down in the good ol’ US of A yesterday, and though the sky was exceptionally sunny and my two kitties exceedingly understanding (well, Gizmo gave us the cold shoulder for a few hours, but that’s normal when we […]
After a week of roaming the hills and seasides of Ireland, my husband and I touched back down in the good ol’ US of A yesterday, and though the sky was exceptionally sunny and my two kitties exceedingly understanding (well, Gizmo gave us the cold shoulder for a few hours, but that’s normal when we go away), I couldn’t help but miss the beauty of Ireland already. Not only was the country as idyllic as portrayed in movies—full of lush greenery, rolling slopes and medieval ruins that you could stare at for hours—but the people had a distinctive style that changed from region to region.
Sadly, I didn’t photo-stalk anyone; it’s not really my style (yet, anyway). But I can report that in Dublin, “punk” lives on, with plenty of lasses dying their hair (or dreads) every shade of the rainbow, and sporting multiple face piercings (not my favorite look, but, then again, I myself used to have an eyebrow ring, so who am I to talk?) and loads of black eyeliner. In Kilkenny, when night fell, girls put on their spikiest stilettos and super-short sequined club gear, and styled their hair in long and loose waves, only to go to…pubs. I watched them wobble on the cobblestone, and felt much sympathy for them—my own weak ankles aren’t very trustworthy when I’m navigating the Meatpacking District in heels. Over in Galway, the complete opposite was true: Flats paired with loose top knots seemed to rule, and the crowd is young and fresh-faced, but not beholden to any of the buzziest beauty trends.
But, beauty trends aside, I fell head over heels for the countless lambs that dotted the hillsides; they hop like bunnies when they’re playing, and they bleat so much, it’s amazing people get sleep in Ireland! In Dublin, the doors on the copious Georgian townhouses are painted in the sunniest colors, like lemon yellow, hot pink and vivid turquoise. Seeing as the cloud cover there can go on and on for days, having a bit of fun color brings a little ray of happiness to the gloom of day to day, I’m sure. The small villages we drove through can best be described as quaint, and their vibrantly painted storefronts only add to their undeniable charm. Seeing the relics of medieval castles and abbeys that rise above Ireland’s modern-day landscape is really quite breathtaking. (The first image of this post is of Ross Castle in Killarney, part of the Ring of Kerry.) And the Cliffs of Moher, which have been commercialized quite a bit, still retain their awe-inspiring beauty, despite (much-needed) guardrails and kitsch peddlers.
Some favorite moments from my trip: Being led by “Garwin,” our GPS system (you MUST splurge on GPS if you’re driving; I can’t tell you how much this tiny device probably ensured that my husband and I didn’t kill each other as we navigated the country), into what is called a “Gap,” which can best be described as the SCARIEST. ROAD. EVER. One lane—not two, but ONE—that goes in and out of being paved and dirt with enough blind corners and dips and swerves (or, as it is called in Ireland, “severe bends,” which kept making me envision a deep-sea diver bent over in pain) to cause my husband’s hands to hurt from how tightly he was gripping the steering wheel. I laughed deliriously the whole time, even though I was scared shitless.
Also: Running into some wild billy goats and their baby while driving the Ring of Kerry. And: Horseback riding on a mountain in Dingle, where my husband’s horse did what she wanted (darn you, Meg!) and a wandering flock of sheep crossed our path to my delight. Additionally: Stumbling into a pub, The King’s Head, in Galway to find Irish dancers performing. Those men can kick HIGH!
And: Coming across a dappled gray horse—I can’t remember where—who posed for my camera like the superstar he is. Also: Coming across the Natural History wing of the National Museum of Ireland, with all its strange and exotic taxidermied animals and insects, like straight out of some strange adventure movie.
And though I drank a lot of Guinness (and also went to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, where surprisingly there were a ton of little kids…why? I dunno), I drank even more Bulmers Cider, though I could never remember the name when I ordered it. When my husband and I did the obligatory pub crawl in Dublin, it actually SNOWED.
And, finally: I am not a breakfast eater by nature, but for some reason, in Ireland, I ate the traditional “full Irish” breakfast—sausage, “rashers” (tasty bacon), fried egg, fried tomato, white pudding and black pudding (my personal fave)—quite consistently, and now my stomach is paying for it in increased girth.
Ireland, you captured my heart. I’ll definitely be sending more Statesiders your way.