This year has seen a huge uptick in interest for travel to Ireland, so I decided to make another trip there at the end of March. I am so glad that I did.
I arrived in Dublin airport, and drove to Galway to see friends I had met when I was teaching at the University of Bordeaux in 1988/89. I have to admit that I was a little nervous about driving, alone, across the country, on the left side of the road – but it was actually a piece of cake! I rented an automatic car, and it’s amazing how easily one’s brain adjusts to the driving.
As I passed through many roundabouts on my way out of Dublin, the city behind me and the countryside all around me, I was instantly struck by the stunning simple beauty of the landscape- the stone walls, the herds of sheep and cows, the farmhouses, an occasional ancient stone tower and the enormous clouded blue sky.
We all laughed about how it was easy to see 4 seasons in one day, particularly on the west coast of Ireland – we had beautiful sun, rain, sleet, snow and wind, all on the first day! But this didn’t stop us from exploring the Wild Atlantic Way. After a first night in Galway, walking along the Promenade at Salthill with views of the Connemara hills across the bay, we headed to the Burren, a barren but not bleak landscape of glacial-era limestone dotted with farms, wildflowers, caves, fossils, and really cool ancient portal tombs. I had never before seen landscape like this – from Connemara to the Cliffs of Moher and the beautiful Burren, we were surrounded by spectacular scenery – and daffodils – everywhere we went.
Other explorations included the town of Adare with its beautiful park and thatched rooved houses, to the city of Cork with its English Market and Butter Museum and Cobh, the port town from which my own ancestors embarked to the US in the 19th century. I drove to the Rock of Cashel and hiked up the hill to the medieval church, round tower and burial yard which date back to the 12th century. The views from the top were stunning.
I loved Dublin much more than I thought I would as well! I met wonderful warm people in pubs while sipping Guinness and listening to live music. I visited Trinity College Library and the Book of Kells, the Chester Beatty Library of beautiful manuscripts, and Trinity Church where GF Handel first performed the Messiah. There are artifacts dating back to Viking Times, wonderful markets, friendly people, lovely parks, Georgian homes, and delicious tea and cakes.
It is so easy to get to Ireland, particularly from the east coast of the US. I am already looking forward to returning there as soon as I can – there is so much more to explore!