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Published: November 21st 2013
I know it has been too long since I have last written. In fact I told so many of you that a blog was on the way, but the truth is that traveling, school work, life, and writing is a lot to balance. Not to mention, this blog took way too much pondering. This will be quite a long one...
I recently traveled over land and sea with my best friend Rae to the beautiful green island that is Ireland!!!! Anyone in my family will tell you that I have dreamed of the moment that would occur when I would step off of the boat that would lead me to the footfalls of my ancestors since I was about four. Finally after years of patiently waiting that moment arrived!! Let me tell you something that I never thought that I would say.... Ireland was MORE amazing than I expected...getting to Ireland from Wales however...was a much different story so I will start with that!
Chapter one: The Saga of the Drenched and the Weary!
Rae and I arrived in Carmarthen, Wales to meet our Megabus that would arrive at 12:55 am at around 3 pm...therefore in a
little town in Wales we sat soaked to the bone in the area's bus station. Unknown to us across a little bridge stood a train station that had a heater... so we sat exposed to the elements staring at a chip shop entitled: American Pizza or something of that nature wondering if we should go inside for hours on end. When the bus finally did come we both were food, sleep and bathroom deprived. We soon found that we both were both bus and sea sick... we made our beautiful ferry trip to Ireland and arrived in Rosslare Europort at roughly 6:15 am. 6:15 am proved to be a beautiful hour for us. Not only had we reached our destination but we also were introduced to Irish hospitality. Our bus driver ushered us to the train station wherein we begged the conductor to let us aboard an earlier train to Dublin, instead of being rude and kicking us out or making us pay a surcharge the kind-hearted men laughed heartily, asked us where we wanted to be headed and let us aboard the first seats without another question. Typically, travelers are to pay 10 euro to switch trains, Rae and
I did not pay a single coin. This is how we first found that the luck of the Irish was ours. So we set off over the country side through Wicklow National Park, a location known to many Americans as the place where Gerry and Holly met in the film P.S. I Love You, through little towns such as Don Logahaire, and many others until we pulled into a huge city which would be home to us for a few days: DUBLIN!
CHAPTER TWO: My first Irish Guinness and Kieran!!
After a quick two-hour nap to catch up on a bit of sleep, Rae and I set off to explore the town. We started that off by walking down the street of Temple Bar and eating a proper Irish meal in a pub/restaurant called the Quay. At first we did not know that the establishment was a dual pub/restaurant so we awkwardly waltzed through a crowd of half-drunk men at about 3 pm and then awkwardly waltzed immediately back out only to be watched by the same group of men as we walked past the indoor windows up the flight of stairs to dine above them. We then
experienced the best meal of Bangers and Mash that I expect to ever have! After this we took a stroll through bookshops, bakeries, Starbucks, castles, cathedrals and finally back to our little Hostel. We then fixed ourselves up for the night and headed to a little pub called "The Old Storehouse Pub." Here we listened to a man named Kieran Finn play Irish drinking songs and modern classics right before us. We then opened a tab wherein I had many a Guinness, and Rae attempted to like one...which I finished. We ate chips, and sang and laughed and talked to the singer until his set was done. The pub was what I had always imagined an Irish pub would be; full of laughter, music, food, beer, random spouts of anger, and hospitable kindness...basically it was all of the human experience trapped into one or two small rooms. I have never seen anything more beautiful...until the second day in Ireland.
Chapter THREE: The Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Galway Bay, and The men of Temple Bar
The second day in Ireland, Rae and I caught a tour bus to take us to the beautiful Cliffs of Moher and County
Clare. There is not too much that I can say about the Cliffs of Moher except that you have to go there to understand the beauty that is the world that God has created. I had seen pictures of beautiful places in Europe, I have read fairy tales, and I have dreamt of walking along the ocean in Ireland and I came so prepared to be disappointed... I did not come to be awe-struck... I have never seen such beauty, and have never felt such powerful winds in my life. Essentially I have never felt so alive. The wind rushing past my face and making me tip forward and backwards again made me trust in myself and God more than ever...it was as if the world was pushing you around to explain to you: "God created such a place, it is true that it exists and because it does so do you, and so does he." The Cliffs of Moher were harnessed by a wealthy man of County Clare to become a footpath for Victorian Women to follow during the day as a leisure activity. You can almost imagine women coming to the cliffs to ponder great pieces of poetry
and to gossip about things happening in their respective villages when you walk along the cliffs to escape from your every-day life as well. After leaving the Cliffs we drove through County Clare and witnessed both beauty and tragedy. We drove through the towns that my very ancestors narrowly escaped in Kilkenny and Tripperary County and we saw abandoned cottages of the famine wherein you can still see the struggle on the land as dilapidated places that once witnessed death and destruction of so many families. You can see flowers today grow where potatoes once refused to and the vacancy of that very land reminds me that my family does not live in Ireland and also perhaps I only exist because I do not. That would mean that I exist because one or two men decided that their families would die unless they sought opportunity in a different place; Boston and then Topeka, Kansas, because if they did not their posterity and their very lives would cease to exist. Nothing puts an enlightened perspective on a person better than driving through such a desolate place as those counties which I wept my way through as I rode through them listening
to the sad songs of Christy Moore. We then reached the liveliest yet strikingly calm seaside of Galway Bay where I slipped and slid through the coast to take pictures of beautiful places that I pray to see again. Afterwards we headed back through little villages into the big old city of Dublin. After getting ourselves dressed up we set off for Temple Bar Pub where we were introduced to Irish Coffees, various Irish musicians and two kind gentlemen named Ewan and Paddy. They sang along to the bands and wondered how I knew so much Irish music. They laughed as Rae and I pathetically tried not to become obsessed with both of their accents. They bought us some drinks, held our coats, watched us dance and then chat about things that only we would understand. Then by the end of the night I had not kissed the Blarney Stone, but I kissed an Irishman in Temple Bar and that might be the next best thing. Rae and I then went back to our hostel too happy to understand that life was still going on and too heart broken that our time in Ireland was slipping past us too quickly.
We set our alarms to wake up early the next morning, and so we did.
CHAPTER FOUR: GUINNESS STOREHOUSE AND ONE MORE NIGHT!!!
The next day, I paid homage to St. James and tried the beautiful beverage that I already knew I was in love with in its home location. I learned more about making beer than I really ever wish to again. I also got my Daddy some presents, which will be left un-named as they are CHRISTMAS PRESENTS (do not open these gifts Daddy or I will hurt you!) I then had a final Guinness Storehouse Guinness in the Dublin 360 bar. This bar overlooks all of Dublin and gives you all-around views of that great town. It is so crazy to think of how much tragedy, joy, fear, comfort, and closure that is embodied in one little "dirty old town." I cannot imagine ever loving a place on first sight as much as I love Dublin. After leaving the storehouse Rae and I explored the rest of the city, went shopping, bought a few sweatshirts, more Christmas gifts...and I bought a plush Irish singing sheep... (don't judge me on my love of plush
toys or sheep....) Then off we went for a final meal of corned beef, Irish coffee and temple bar music!! We made friends of four Frenchmen...some of who did not speak English, but were all kind and interested in our respective cultures. We all sang and drank together and Rae and I found that we were not the only ones who were visiting a new place. It is sometimes hard to remember that you are not alone when you think that you are doing something new and exciting. The world is kind of a really small place. I started to think: How many people started their adult lives here in Dublin? How many people claimed: I will come back here someday, because this is where I started to believe that I am an adult? How many people actually will return? I am not sure, but I plan to!
CHAPTER FIVE: ALAS!!!!
Finally, Rae and I were forced to make the train in Dublin...(we missed our train, so we made a later one) back through Wicklow and back to Rosslare to the ferry, which would take us home to Wales. Then Rae set off home to London and I
to Lampeter where I met one final kind-hearted Irish man who somehow magically appeared like some sort of Leprechaun and chose to wait with me and chat about Ireland, America and little Welsh Carmarthen until my bus came to claim me and take me back to school. I left Ireland with the "Fisherman's blues" stuck in my head and it is still playing through the foggy smoke of Temple Bar pub and I am still singing along with six Irish men on the last day, begging me to stay, with the barman topping off my pint just because he was kind, with people asking me how I could shoot whisky if I wasn't a true Irish girl, with professors asking me about literature and James Joyce, with the music still going on behind and before me, with people outside the doors rushing home from work to visit their children, to tend to their pets, to sleep until their hard work would come again, taking a right to another pub to sing and joke and talk with old friends....to live life, just as I was...and life is terrible and beautiful, sweet and short. A piece of my life is still in
Dublin because I led it there and will take it home.
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