Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Land of Shamrocks, Part 2

St. Paddy's Day hasn't arrived yet, but everyone is still celebrating.  There's a whole lot of celebrating going on over at Cuisine Kathleen's place.  She's hosting the Fourth Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Party Crawl (try saying that three times really fast) :)

I thought I would leave you with a few last images of Ireland from the trip we took in 1999 (you can see Part 1 of our trip HERE).  But I also wanted to share some thoughts about my experience.  I so appreciate all the nice comments people left on the first part of my post.  It's amazing how many out there have Irish roots and have traveled to Ireland.  A few of you mentioned "The Troubles" in your comments.  When we think of Ireland, we think of the beauty -- the unbelievable green land, the magical light, the flowers, cottages, and the hospitable people.  And unfortunately, most of us think of "The Troubles."

The facility that my husband was working at was originally in Shannon in the Republic of Ireland.  But it was later moved to the small town of Kilkeel, County Down, Northern Ireland.  When we left England to go to Ireland, I knew that we would be flying into Belfast Airport, and I can tell you, I was more than a bit nervous about that.  Our flight was delayed and we got into Belfast after dark.  We picked up our rental car at the airport and drove to Newcastle, where we were staying near the plant.

The airport was quiet, not many people around at that hour.  I was able to see some of Belfast as we drove through on our way to Newcastle.  I really expected to see graffiti everywhere and shells of bombed out buildings.   Those were the only things I knew of Belfast from the mainstream media.  I didn't know that the most famous ship of the White Star Line, The Titanic, was built in Belfast until my husband pointed out the shipyard where it was built.

After a short two-days' stay in Ireland, it was time for me to fly from Belfast Airport back to Gatwick in London for a four-hour layover, and then "home" to Raleigh-Durham Airport in North Carolina.  I was really nervous that day because DH and I had flown over from North Carolina together, but I would be flying back alone.  Not a big deal really, but it was to me.  I've never mentioned that this trip was the first time in my life I had ever flown.  I know -- hard to believe, but true.  I have a wee, small fear of flying, ;-) but I'm so glad I made myself go.

The thing that struck me that day at Belfast Airport was the fact that my luggage went through three different forms of security checks.  And my husband was not allowed to accompany me and wait with me until time for me to board the plane.  You we used to be able to do here.  We said our goodbyes at the security checkpoint.  It was a much more somber and business-like atmosphere than the one we had left in Raleigh, NC.

So when I look back on that part of my trip, it's so odd to think that just two years later, air travel for those of us in the U.S. would be forever changed.  I remember watching the television on September 11, 2001, and thinking that nothing would ever be the same again.  And you see, these people at Belfast Airport and Gatwick and Heathrow, and in the villages of Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland were well acquainted with the ways of terrorists long before most of us here could conceive of such acts.  We heard about them on television, but they were always something that happened in a land far away.

I hope you enjoy these pictures of a beautiful land that has endured so much.  I don't have any rustic, thatched cottages to show you.  We probably passed some on the road to Dublin, but DH didn't stop for pictures.

This is St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland.  I think this picture was taken by DH on a previous trip, because I didn't go to Armagh with him.

These were some of my favorite pictures; I loved seeing all the sheep.  They just dotted the hillsides everywhere.  In the next picture, you can see one of the many rock walls, for which Ireland is famous.

...Two lambs running to catch up with mom.

Our tour guide for the hop-on, hop-off bus tour in Dublin.

We had to take a picture of this -- the Guinness plant in the background ;)

The River Liffy in Dublin...

I really hate this picture of me (my hair is blown flat to my head), but I have to show you the Ha'penny Bridge.

St. Patrick's Cathedral and Collegiate Church in Dublin...

I don't know what this building is, but you can see a sign for Belfast on the road in front.

You can see how gray the sky is in some of these pictures, and in others, it's blue with puffy white clouds. It was like that the whole weekend I was there.  DH says if you don't like the weather in Ireland, just wait a few minutes and you'll get something different.

Beautiful scrolled wrought iron and coat of arms on this gate...

Love the window boxes and bright flowers on this building, and another beautiful fence.

Not sure about this picture (sorry).  I should have written everything down, but I don't like to write on the back of my photos.  That's one good thing about digital photography.

In Ireland proper, the signs we passed were in Gaelic as well as English.

What's so pretty about Ireland and the U.K. is the contrast between the dark color of the old stone buildings and the lush green of the grass.

This is one of the many war memorials that one sees all over the U.K. and Ireland.  You can see the dates of World War I and World War II on the sides of the monument.

Another view of Dublin -- from the bus, I think.  Blue sky and sunshine -- where did that come from??

More views of St. Patrick's Cathedral in Armagh, Northern Ireland...

I'm not sure about these next pictures (?)

I cropped this picture from earlier in the post in order to get a more close-up view of the two little lambs (right side of the picture).  I love their little black legs and faces.  :)  You can also see the blue water in the distance to the left.

Aren't the little lambs so sweet?!!

  Joining Cuisine Kathleen's Fourth Annual St. Patrick's Day Blog Party Crawl.  Happy St. Pat's Day to you and thanks for visiting and hanging in there with this lonnnng post! :)



  1. Thank you!!

    Two things I found really interesting - how all the stone fences were everywhere in the country, land was so precious and every inch counted and it was divided and divided and divided!

    Another thing was just about every sheep we saw were spray painted colors - instead of branding I guess - but it cracked me up the first few times to look up and see bright blue, purple, green sheep. Did you see that as well?

    I have enjoyed your photos, thank you so much!

  2. I love watching sheep in the fields. Especially the lambs and the way they gambol.

  3. More wonderful pictures! I love this so much. The cathedral is just stunning, isn't it? I've never even seen St. Patrick's in NY so that is one big gorgeous church to me. I also loved the pasture pictures and the bridge picture. Of course, you made me giggle about the hair. I'm giggling again as I type this. The stuff we women worry about, huh? I think you were a fine looking colleen, big hair or flat hair!

  4. Beautiful photos...Really makes me want to see Ireland moreso!

  5. You brought back some lovely memories. I toured Ireland in 2006 with a group of university students who were studying to be high school English teachers. One of our English professors organized a tour of Ireland focusing on what he called the literary geography of Ireland. We spend 18 days touring the country following the footsteps of the great Irish novelist James Joyce, play writes Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, and my favorite poet William Butler Yeats. We learned the history of the country, loved the folklore and legend, and embraced the Irish themselves-- and the students developed a taste for Guinness. My photos are packed away, so thank you for sharing your great memories.



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