I’m Back!

I took a hiatus, for those who were wondering.  Personal situations overtook my concentration and desire to do anything other than losing myself in books.  I have taken a trip to Savannah, GA with my husband and will work on getting posts up for that.

If anyone is interested, I have started a new blog at https://fromtearstodiamonds.wordpress.com

Feel free to check it out.  It is a highly personal, raw blog that will include my thoughts and feelings on events and people that have shaped me.

Have a great evening!

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An Daingean

Oh no!!! My eyes snapped open. Alarm didn’t go off!! I jumped out of bed and woke my roommate.  We scrambled to get our belongings together and to get downstairs.  After a sleepless night, I supposed this was bound to happen.  We made it to the bus with time to spare, though we did miss breakfast.

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Our destination is the Dingle Peninsula, and the town of Dingle.  Another beautiful, colorful town, it is a very popular tourist destination.  It was established as a port following the Norman invasion and soon surpassed Limerick in exportation, with wine becoming the major export in the fourteenth century.

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And this is Fungie the Dolphin.  A bottlenose dolphin, Fungie frequents the Dingle harbour.  Seeming to prefer human interaction over his own species, Fungie is a major tourist attraction since 1984.  This statue is located in the town square, surrounded by shops and pubs with Irish music.

Again we spent our time shopping and seeing the sights while eating shepherd’s pie and drinking tea.  We hopped on the bus after lunch and headed to the cliffs.

 

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Moving on: Killarney National Park and An Coireán


This photo of Ladies’ View is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Moving south, we stop at the Ladies View in Killarney National Park. As we walk where royals have walked, we find out that Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting deemed the scenery a “view fit for a lady” in an 1861 visit. As we don’t have royalty in the US, this is again an very exciting experience, though it was very difficult to walk upright due to the brutal wind (have I mentioned it was extremely cold?)

We saw the view through a gray mist, the lakes in the distance took on a dark green-gray color, sparkling brightly where the sun peeked through the heavy clouds.

After stretching our legs a bit, we hopped back on the bus and settled in for a long drive to Waterville (An Coireán), the favorite place of one of my favorite actors, Charlie Chaplin.  Unfortunately my personal photograph of the honorary statue of the famous silent film actor is in a box three hours away, so I will have to settle for one from the information superhighway:

Granted, his life was not picture perfect, but he performed some pretty good slapstick comedy.  Even strange events after his death ensured his family couln’t grieve properly (his body was dug up and held for ransom by two immigrants, hoping to extort money from his wife, Oona Chaplin.  It was later found in a field and buried again in the cemetary, reinforced by concrete).

After a long drive to the hotel, we enjoyed dinner at a four-start hotel and headed to our rooms to lie on blissfully soft beds and pillows . . .

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Cill Airne

 

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Killarney, or Cill Airne, is the beginning point of the Ring of Kerry, Mórchuaird Chiarraí, which is a 179-km-long stretch of scenic views.

My personal favorite, Killarney is exactly what I always pictured when I thought of a quaint, European town.  The colorful shop fronts, narrow roads and more people walking than driving lets me know that I am in a different place.

After a buffet breakfast (I steered clear of the blood sausage) we were given the day to explore.  As we set out on foot, we broke up into twos and threes and slowly moved through the town.  I commenced my souvenir-shopping.  A side note, buildings are on a much smaller scale than most in the US.  I felt as if i needed to duck through the doorway (even though I’m not extremely tall and probably didn’t need to).  This, in my opinion, just adds to the charm.

We had a quick local lunch in a restaurant and later found a coffee shop to sit in and people watch.  Locals passed by, smiling and laughing, taking life at a slower, more relaxed pace.  After an afternoon of shopping,we returned to the hotel for dinner and early-to-bed (as we were still fighting jet-lag) not knowing we would wake up to see snow on the mountains.

Snow in March – very unusual for us coming from the Deep South, where temperatures were staring 80 degrees Farenheit in the face.

 

 

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Caisleán Bhun Raithe

We flew from Atlanta overnight, caught an early-morning bus and reached Caisleán Bhun Raithe (or Bunratty Castle) just as the pink morning sun was appearing over the treetops. The air was clean and fresh, the grass damp. For the first time in years, I was standing in a place that was older (in terms of settlement) than my “home” country of America.  Sometimes that feels so surreal.

This particular area is believed to have been settled as early as 970 AD, as a Viking camp, with the first fortress going up in 1250.  Being made of a dirt mound and wood, this structure was replaced by stone, thanks to Thomas De Clare.  Even the newest structure is hundreds of years old – 589 years old to be exact.

We walked into this immense structure, not expecting moderate-sized rooms, steep stairs, and narrow windows.  As we clumsily followed the tour guide up the stairs, we realized that if we had this much trouble walking up them in full daylight, how much more difficult it would have been for full-armored men running up them with only a torch to light the way.

I am picturing a domino effect in my mind.

The MacNamara family had defense in mind when building the current structure.  Narrow windows so that no one could come through them, but wide enough so that the archers could launch arrows through them.  After a mere fifty years, however, the castle had changed hands yet again.

Once we reach the roof, we spied the green, rolling hills that Ireland is so famous for.  Our eyes follow the “Ratty” River until it meets the Shannon River.  And we see the Folk Park, with it’s thatched roofs and dirt paths.  We head down to explore the village and, wonder of all wonders, I run into a friend who was spending the semester in England.  We had not kept in touch, so it was quite a surprise for both of us. As the day drew to a close, my group climbed on the bus and prepared to head to our hotel for the night.  My first day in Ireland left high expectations for the rest of my trip.  I fell asleep with visions of emerald hills behind my eyelids.

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Introducing. . . . Me

Life is too short to stay in one place and the world is too interesting not to explore.  As such, here are stories of the places I have been, physically and vicariously (because who can hold down a full-time job AND travel as much as I would like?)   I have never been to Disney World, and can always predict the gasp of disbelief when I impart this information.  However, I am confident that I have had experiences that not many of my peers can claim.

My first plane ride was at 18 months, and I was bouncing from place to place up until the age of 12.  After seeing castles of Germany, my family settled back in the United States and field trips consisted of jaunts to the local farms. Cows and pigs just don’t evoke the same level of grandeur.

I have been blessed to be able to seize travel opportunities, interact with different cultures and hear histories, both in the US and abroad.  There are still many places to go before I die, many things to see, many tastes to experience.  Bear with me while I impart thoughts and facts.  Any travel suggestions are also welcome.

 

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