Sunday, June 29, 2014

Irish Eyes Are Smiling


For the last 8 months we have been based in cities, Vienna, Athens, Rome etc..  We have filled most of our time in beautiful buildings and monuments, museums filled with treasures of creativity, talent and the genius of humankind. Time for a break. Time to lose ourselves in Mother Nature, Earth's resident artist.
The Emerald Isle, Ireland, wow, it is really very green. Green in a rich fabric sort of way.  The sky and clouds do seem closer to you and the rugged unspoiled shoreline is testament to the power of nature.  It is in the mystical walks through valley and glen, near seaside cliffs and running streams that we will renew ourselves, recharge the battery, drink some Guinness.

The weather has been extremely kind to us for our first 21 days. The locals are honestly surprised how nice it has been. Other than a few scattered and brief showers, it has been either clear or with clouds and sun and in the high 60's to low to mid 70's ( 15-20 Celsius). I have now tempted the weather Gods to laugh at us.

We landed in Dublin - so we will save the Dublin post as we leave Ireland.  We are staying in a town named Lauragh on the Beara Peninsula.  There is not an address on the house where we are staying -  the directions to get there...  "After you get off the main road turn left at the "pub that was" (Healy Pass) go up the hill on your left about 1 km from the sign Creveen Lodge, you'll see a lovely yellow house"...

"The Pub that Was"

The Lovely Yellow House on the Hill
We would like to thank our friend Maureen Shea who's grandfather owned this home and left Ireland to seek his fortune in America.

Stunning Sunset from our front yard overlooking Kenmare Bay.  The sun sets after 10PM
 or 22:00 (for our European friends), which gives us plenty of light to enjoy long hikes (right!!!)

Traffic in the neighborhood

A friendly game of Gaelic Football in the neighborhood.  A bit like American football, soccer, volleyball, basketball, rugby - it's fast and exciting.

The smallest pub in Ireland where the Leprechauns hang out

Richard looking for the Leprechauns...
Not really, this is a Gleninchaquin Heritage Site, it is a typical cabin of 19th century Kerry found on a steep hillside.  In the early 1800's almost 100 people lived in the area.  Today the population of this area is 2.  The potato famine of 1845 devastated the valley.

A big part of Irish history was 1845-1849  -  The Potato Blight and its effect
Over one hundred stone circles are known in the area where we are staying.  

On June 21st (Summer Solstice) we spent the day looking for as many of the Stone Circles that we could find.  (A spiritual treasure hunt!)

The period from about 2000 BC - 500 BC is known as the Bronze Age, during this period -  stone circles and related monuments were constructed.  The circles consist of an uneven number of spaced upright stones which vary in number from 5 stones to 19 stones.   Often, the upright stones decrease in height from the north-east to the south-west.  On the north-eastern side an entrance is formed, usually these are the 2 tallest stones in the circle.  Sometimes, the entrance is emphasized by having these stones also called portal stones set at right angles to the circle.  These monuments were orientated to events in the solar and lunar cycles indicating the rising and setting positions of the sun at the Spring and Autumn Equinoxes, Summer Solstice, and times in between.  Fascinating!!!!!

Can't leave Ireland without an Irish Wool Sweater...

....No one really makes Irish Stew like an Irish Mum, but we are told a young lamb makes the best stew.  (Sorry!!!!)

The history of Ireland makes you even more impressed with the spirit of its people. First, my ancestors (the Vikings) come in and pillage your village, take your women and rule over you, (On a side note I am beginning to think it was the influence of Irish women in Scandinavian countries that softened the Vikings and gave Norwegians something to smile about). After the Irish take back their lands, (with much civil fighting as well) the English take them over and they suffer under British rule. The potato blight and famine either kills or forces half your population to leave or die. Then you have to mount another fight to get your freedom from British control (with your country split in two). It has been rough going here the last 6-7 years with the Financial boom (called the Celtic Tiger) and then the bust of the financial crisis, but the spirit of the Irish will always remain. Bend but not break, they have endured for centuries and will survive again.

The Vikings return!

It is hard to choose from so many beautiful places we have visited here and photos we have taken, but here are a few others that took our breath away.

The Kerry Cliffs
Coffee break at Waterville, Ring of Kerry

Killarney National Park

Off to the West Coast of Ireland with the Sisters!.......