Irish Memories

When I set off on adventures, my daily blog becomes a travel blog, capturing the highlights of each day. Because the days are full and long, these posts are necessarily brief so that I can get to bed and catch a few hours of sleep before the start of the next exciting day. It has become my custom to share additional thoughts, stories and photos in the days after the conclusion of the trip.

Today’s post focuses on memories from the first two days of our girls’ trip, in Dublin, Ireland.

Ireland was the only country, out of the three we visited during this trip, that none of us had seen before. My mom, sisters, niece and I all have Irish, Scottish and English heritage. We were excited about the opportunity to visit Dublin, Ireland and connect more deeply with our Irish roots.

Additional photos and thoughts from our Dublin stay:

Gorgeous architecture…

We walked around the streets of Dublin, gawking and gazing upward at the beautiful old buildings. Our primary mode of transportation in this city was the hop on/hop off bus, which we made excellent use of.

Green parks and soothing rivers and lakes…

I loved St Stephens Green, a large park in central Dublin. However, there were other parks, some surrounding monuments and memorials, and there was a zoo. We rode past the zoo many times but did not stop. I appreciated the dedicated green spaces in Dublin where people could walk or stretch out on the grass. And like other European cities, many residents create their own miniature gardens in hanging baskets, window boxes and on roof tops.

Friendly people…

As much as we enjoyed touring the city and admiring the buildings and sampling the food, it was the people of Dublin that we fell in love with. The first thing we adored was their charming Irish accent. I’ve heard Irish actors speak on talk shows and in movies. However, this was my first time to be immersed in the culture and hear many people speaking in the same lilting cadence.

We looked forward to the tour bus drivers’ narratives, especially when they said, “The next stop will be stop number thirty-three…” The Irish don’t pronounce the “th” sound like Americans do. So thirty-three sounds to our ears like “turty tree”. And “with you” sounds like “wit choo”. We smiled every time. My sister Linda pointed out that our sister Debbie, who is my mom’s third daughter, was the “turd daughter”, which became a little family joke!

While in Dublin, we picked up the slang word feckin’. Let me just say it’s a colorful word, similar to an American word that begins with the same letter. The Irish version sounds more playful and less crude and found its way into our vocabulary over the next 11 days.

The Irish people we met were happy, light hearted, fun and gracious. Of the three countries we visited, Ireland’s citizens were the most humorous and by a slight margin, the friendliest.

I enjoyed this first glimpse of Ireland. Our stay there was short and unfortunately we didn’t have time to venture out into the countryside, which for me warrants another visit in the near future. The five of us embraced our Irish roots to become Celtic women while we were there. Ireland called to my Irish blood and awakened my poetic soul, kindling the desire to learn more about this part of my heritage.

I’ve been told I have Irish feet. It was explained to me that Irish feet is a way of saying I have an inborn desire to travel and move about. I understand that better now.

Ireland, I will be back. You are a part of me, and I of you.

Irish Blessings

After a long and restorative sleep, I spent the day exploring Dublin with my traveling companions. This international girls’ trip is proving to be extraordinary. We are enjoying this time of being together and learning new things.

Making use of the convenient hop on/hop off tour bus, we wound through the city again, hopping off at various locations to further our knowledge and appreciation of Ireland’s capital city.

Here are highlights of our fun day:

We crossed a bridge over the River Liffey, which winds through Dublin to empty into the bay.

One of the most well known pubs in Dublin, The Temple Bar. It was too crowded inside to dine there but a least we found it! I enjoyed wearing my No Regrets t shirt from Solgave Clothing in Dublin today.

People are very friendly here!

Linda found her leprechaun!

We had a wonderful lunch at Quays. Mom and I have not had any problems eating plant based, I’m happy to say! We both enjoyed veggies and rice and a hot peppermint tea.

I LOVED St Stephen’s Green, a 22 acre park in the center of Dublin. My gardener’s heart was right at home here as we wandered the paths through this beautiful green space.

The day’s selfie was taken on the stone bridge in St Stephens Green. This became a daily tradition that I started when Dayan, Elissa and I traveled to Italy earlier in the year. I change my Facebook profile pic and my cover photo everyday, by capturing a snapshot of the day. With five of us to get in the photo, we are relying on the kindness of strangers to take a pic for us!

Busy Grafton Street and the area surrounding it is the shopping center of the city. We loved the lively energy here as we joined thousands of other shoppers and tourists wandering around.

I love Dublin’s colorful front doors!

More sad sculptures depicting the Irish Potato Famine.

We had an incredible day. There was more that we wanted to do and see, however we simply ran out of time. Tomorrow we fly out of Dublin, and land in Edinburgh.

There is no other possible decision to make about it…we must plan another trip to Ireland! May the road rise up to meet us…and may the journey lead us back to Ireland.

St Stephens Green -Dublin

Three weeks from today, I'll be in the air, flying to Dublin, Ireland. My sisters, mom, niece and I have been planning and anticipating this trip for a year. As always, that time does indeed pass. We are counting down the days until our adventure.

I've had a very full day, with back to back appointments. Coming in this evening, with more work to do on the computer, I suddenly realized I didn't know what I was going to be writing about tonight. Two things happened, after I had that thought, as I sat on the side of my bed.

Checking Facebook, I saw that my sister Linda had posted a pic of an Irish pub in Dublin, commenting that we are leaving in three weeks. And looking up from my phone, I saw the book 20 Things to Do in Dublin Before You Go for a Feckin' Pint on the bedside table. There it was, double inspiration.

I've enjoyed some downtime this evening, reading in the humorously written book and thinking about Ireland. Dublin will be our home base while we are in that country.

Must see site #7 is St Stephen's Green.

This 22 acre park is located in the heart of Dublin, at the top of Grafton Street. According to the book, you can't miss it…it's the big green thing with all the trees! We are staying in the heart of the city, so I hope for at least a stroll through this gorgeous park.

Although this green space is peaceful and filled with ponds, statues, flowers and trees, the history of this place is anything but serene. In the 13th century there was a leper colony in this swampy, boggy spot, associated with a nearby church, St Stephen's. By the 17th century the area was converted into a park and the plots surrounding it used for building palatial homes.

The park became popular as a place of public executions. Until the late 18th century, most of Dublin's executions took place here. Crowds would gather to watch the unfortunate law breaker receive his punishment…which eventually led to the residents in the area protesting. The park became a private garden for the wealthy home owners surrounding it. In 1877, the great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the brewery founder, bought the park and donated it back to the city.

The park enjoyed a time of peace until the 1916 Easter Rising, when rebels used the Green as one of their bases of operation. Trenches were dug and the greenhouse used as a first aid center, but after a day, British soldiers began firing on the rebels, driving them out. Bullet holes can be seen in the Fusiliers' Arch entrance. An aside to this event: both sides agreed to a brief ceasefire so that the park groundsman could feed the ducks!

The arch is the most popular entrance to the park. It was built in 1907 to commemorate the soldiers of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who fought for the British Army in the second Boer War.

Statues are scattered throughout the Green, including an artistic installation in honor of Irish poet WB Yeats. There's also one dedicated to Lord Ardilaun, who purchased the park and gave it to the city.

Other highlights in the park include the impressive facade of the Royal College of Surgeons, and the St Stephen's Shopping Centre, built to look like a conservatory.

There is also The Little Museum of Dublin, full of 20th century memorabilia, and one of Ireland's most famous hotels, the Shelbourne. Among the hotel's famous guests have been actors and actresses, authors, and John F Kennedy and his wife Jackie. The hotel features an equally famous pub, The Horseshoe Bar.

Reading about St Stephen's Green, including its colorful history, ramps up my anticipation for this city. This will be my first trip to Ireland…it is a first for all five of us…and I am excited to explore and discover and soak it all in.

Learning about some of Dublin's sites before I visit stirs a longing to see it all myself, and also creates a sense of familiarity when I do arrive. If we visit St Stephens Green, you can bet I will be checking the arch at the entrance for bullet holes!

Collecting Moments

In slightly more than a month, I'll be off on my next adventure, traveling to Ireland, Scotland and England. I'll be accompanied on this trip by my mom, my two sisters and my niece. As I did before the Italy trip, I am starting to cast the vision forward, "seeing" myself having a wonderful time in those countries and I am making preparations at home.

I already know how to pack a carry on for 12 days. I have clothes for the cooler temps that we will experience in the UK. My passport is ready. As I was cleaning the kitchen tonight, the thought came to find out interesting facts about the three cities that will be our home bases as we venture out. I welcomed the tap of inspiration.

Dublin will be our first stop on the trip. None of us have visited Ireland before. Here are fun things I didn't know about Dublin:

1. Dublin natives, or Dubliners, speak Dublinese, a mix of slang and curse words. An example is "I'm on the lash." which means "I'm out drinking."

2. Dublin is an old Irish Gaelic phrase, Dubh Linn, which means Black Pool.

3. Dublin covers 44.5 square miles. We are staying in the heart of the city.

4. Dublin has the youngest population in all of Europe. Approximately 50% of the population is under the age of 25.

5. Ireland's national treasure is The Book of Kells. This beautiful gold book, containing the four gospels, was created by Celtic monks in 800 AD. The book is located in the Trinity College Library.

Edinburgh is the next major city we will stay in, using it as our base as we explore Scotland. I found out these five things about Edinburgh.

1. Edinburgh's nickname, Auld Reekie (Old Smokey) doesn't refer to a smelly city but to the coal and wood smoke that used to billow from buildings and homes.

2. The majestic Arthur's Seat at the edge of the city is actually an extinct volcano that last erupted 350 million years ago.

3. The Fringe Festival, held in August, is not the original as the International Festive began first. When it originated, poorer acts had to set up on the "fringes" to be able to afford to perform, and hence the name of the festival.

4. Edinburgh was the first city in the world to have its own fire brigade.

5. Edinburgh Castle is ranked the 33rd most popular spot in the world for taking a selfie.

And London, England is our final stop on the UK trip. Here are five things about London that I didn't know.

1. The London Stone is protected by an elegant iron barrier, on Cannon Street. It has been noted on maps and in historical accounts for more than 1,000 years. And yet it has no inscription, sign or apparent use. No one knows who put it there or why!

2. The London Bridge was destroyed during a storm in 1091. Made of wood then, it was taken out by a large tornado, along with 600 houses. The bridge was rebuilt, with stone.

3. George Washington's statue, in Trafalgar Square, actually stands on American soil. Dirt was brought in from Virginia and placed under the statue's pedestal.

4. There are more that 1,000 bodies buried under Aldgate Station. Why? It was a plague burial pit, during the Black Plague.

5. London has 21 lost rivers. The reason they are hard to find is because these subterranean rivers flow through man made culverts and the city has been built on top of them.

Reading these little known facts about Dublin, Edinburgh and London has sharpened my desire to explore these places. I am excited to make new discoveries, experience different cultures and form bonds of friendships with people who have fresh perspectives.

I love the quote that says, Collect moments, not things. I'm off on a girls' trip soon, to do that very thing.