|Not as easy as one might think since the wind is stronger.|
|Broghan's, best place for Hake on the planet!|
|This was almost a Dangit picture. I took lots of those--castles flying past so fast you couldn't see what it was...Dangit picture.|
|Moncai Rua went everywhere--even to make a phone call.|
More than that, I was grateful for Murt O'Shea, the shepherd of our little band of American sheep (some of us were more like goats). Every day he pulled from his vast well of historical, geographical, political, weather-related, and slice-of-life facts to fill our trek with meaning and wry wit. For some, his patter merely entertained. His words helped me fill out what it means to be the quintessential Irishman.
|Murt with my donation of 500 pennies at the Dublin airport|
We in America think we've distilled these people into leprechauns and green beer, to emerge once a year at St. Patrick's Day--a day on which every American thinks they're Irish. I kept waiting for Murt, who once was a skinhead with a lackadaisical high school career, to blow up and shrug out from under the onus of our callous tags. I'm sure he has endured such treatment in all of his 33 years of driving tour buses. But he didn't complain. There was a little snark, but after all that time of herding Americans, I think he has earned it. Part of why, was his attention to detail and loyalty to a good-paying job. But the other half was pure Irish hospitality.
|Waiting to kiss the stone...'cause I don't have enough blarney.|
I met such treatment on every hand, from the shopkeeper, who upon hearing that my mum had managed after several attempts to finally lose her umbrella, promptly plucked up a brand new umbrella, tore off the tags, and handed it to me with a huge smile. There were the Murphy Ice Cream shop girls who offered me a free bowl since I was celebrating my birthday. A woman in I think it was Dingle made us welcome for tea in her own front room, complete with fresh-baked scones and clotted cream.
|Yeah! Kerry football shirt!|
|Sheep dog trials. It's how I know my dog just doesn't want to listen.|
These people are fiercely loyal, not only to their own beloved land, but to ours, for so many favors rendered. And they remember all of them. It's like a very grateful, though smaller, tougher elder brother kindly smiling as his blustery, brazen younger, larger brother fights off bullies for him. What tolerance and thankfulness, which we completely take for granted.
Don't get me wrong. Many also love their booze and poteen (pronounced potcheen), or moonshine (which is illegal to sell). We went to the Guinness works in Dublin for a tour.
|One of the bands we listened to in Galway|
delicious food, and good company. We weren't disappointed.
One day we went to a memorial for our firemen killed in 911 just outside of Kinsale. There is a tree planted for every deceased fireman. How many Irish memorials do we have here? Heck, we could hardly even name their most famous war heroes.
|Memorial at Kinsale|
|The gate to our memorial. It was on a hillside with a view that wouldn't stop.|
|Muckross House--more of a hunting lodge, actually|
But the story doesn't end there. American indians who had experienced their own Trail of Tears donated food to the survivors who had stayed in the village, earning Ireland's undying gratitude.
Also on that leg, we stopped at a Rag Tree. The whitethorn fluttered with thousands of shreds of cloth. It seems that when a baby died, as often happened, the grieving parents lay the wee bairn to rest beneath a whitethorn so it's spines would keep the wolves away from the tiny bones. The Sidhe held whitethorns in sacred regard and would thus care for the babies. The rag trees grew from the feeling that placing a piece of a sick person's clothing might help to make them well.
|One of many statues in Dublin dedicated to their fight for freedom|
|Muckross Abbey was fun to climb around in.|
This whole thing served to endear Ireland to me. And through it's people, my own country. I'm proud that we've stuck by their side. To me, the Statue of Liberty meant these poor starving scarecrows when she said: “Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me: I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
|Walking "home" from Muckross House|
|At the library at Trinity College|
More chapters later. (Most of my pictures are on the sim card which is inside the dang dog as far as I can tell. Waiting, waiting, waiting. Sigh.)