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Published: June 13th 2019
"Take the world nice and easy, and the world will take you the same”.
- Irish proverb
And just like that, we're home! What a fantastic trip we had to Ireland. 😊 It was good craic
(Irish for fun).
The first leg of our flight home was from Dublin to Montreal, and it was quite a pleasant flight. The configuration of the rows of seating on the plane was two seats along each side, and three in the middle. Susan and I were sitting in the two seats along the side, so we didn't have to worry about being squished in with someone else. That makes for a much nicer flight. I wasn't looking forward to the Air Canada Rouge flight, but actually it turned out just fine. We were supplied with pillows and blankets, and settled in for the just under 7 hour flight. The international leg of our journey included meals, but no complimentary alcohol. I had a pretty good spinach and mushroom penne, and we bought a white wine each to accompany our pasta. We dozed and watched movies on the Air Canada app (I got to use the ipad this time, and Susan used her phone).
Later we got mini Baileys to go with our coffee.
We had a long layover in Montreal, about 4 hours, and we had intended on finding a lounge to spend the time in, but the only lounge in the area was the Air Canada lounge, which wasn't open to us, so we instead found a restaurant for a flight of beer and dinner. We weren't supposed to have to go through security again in Montreal, but I guess we went the wrong way (there was absolutely no signage or staff to direct you), so we ended up having to go through again. At security they opened up the sealed duty free bag, did some sort of test on the bottle of Irish cream liquor we bought at the Dublin airport, and sealed it up again. We had lots of time to kill so didn't mind the time the security check took.
The plane to Vancouver had the 3 seats on each side configuration, and we had the window and middle seats (I was in the dreaded middle). The flight was over 5 hours and felt very long. I was pretty glad to finally land at Vancouver. We picked
We pulled these pints ourselves at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin!
up our bags, hopped the skytrain two stops to where we parked our car, and headed home. We got home about 8 pm, and were greeted by an extremely happy kitty! Ella was well taken care of by her cat sitters, but she obviously missed us. We unpacked and crashed, tired after the long journey.
We only had 10 full days in Ireland, but felt we got quite a good overview of the country, visiting both Dublin and Belfast, and seeing some of the southwest of this beautiful country. The scenery in Ireland is pretty spectacular, and the people are very friendly, easy going, and hospitable. “Wow” moments of the trip for me: seeing the Cliffs of Moher, and horse back riding in the lovely Killarney National Park. Favourite food and drink in Ireland: soda bread, Guinness black bread, fish chowder, Irish coffees, and Guinness! I'm suffering from Irish coffee and Guinness withdrawal already.
As illustrated by the blog entries (the entries from the Republic are listed under Ireland and the entries from Northern Ireland are listed under the UK), Ireland is a divided country. The Republic finally became independent from the UK in the 20th century, and
became a republic in 1949, but of course Northern Ireland remains part of the UK to this day. There is no discernable border between Ireland and Northern Ireland - we didn't even know exactly when we had crossed the border. That's a big change from the past when the border was a dangerous area, well guarded by armed soldiers. One of the big issues with Brexit is the need to avoid a return to a "hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland. That could have a negative impact on peace in Northern Ireland.
I was surprised at the extent of the continuing divisions between Republican/Catholic and Loyalist/Protestant communities in Northern Ireland. The "Conflicting Stories" walking tour we did in Belfast was confronting and thought-provoking. It was a privilege to hear the views of those two men, once imprisoned for their actions and beliefs, now working to maintain the peace. Our guide on our day trip to the Giant's Causeway said that if you had told him back during the Troubles that tourists would be visiting Belfast in the future and he would be taking them to the Giant's Causeway, he would have fallen over laughing, sure that would never
View of the Fraser River
Not so bad to come home to
happen. But it has happened. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 brought peace, and Belfast is definitely looking to the future, as it puts its violent past behind it. I got to quite like Belfast during our short time there. We also really enjoyed our time in Dublin, a very friendly city.
It was a treat to travel to an English speaking country, where we could drink the water and eat the food without concern. A big change from most of our trips! As I mentioned previously, Irish is the official language of the Republic and signage is in Irish first, followed by English (but everybody speaks English). I found the Irish accent quite lovely, though occasionally in Northern Ireland to be verging on incomprehensible! I loved the announcements in the elevator at the Bullitt Hotel in Belfast (1st floor, so it is 😊)
Our Paddywagon guide Alex told us a funny story I will share here, when he was describing the much diminished role religion plays in Ireland. (Alex is Catholic but never goes to church, as is common for his generation - he's in his late 20s). When Alex was about 6, he was at his
Ella in the sun
She was so happy to see us.
uncle's funeral, and the blessing was said ("in the name of the father, the son, and the holy ghost"). Well, he heard it as "in the name of the father, the son, and into the hole he goes" (maybe because he heard it during the burial, and if you say it quickly and in an Irish accent it sounds very similar 😊). Anyway, for several years he says the blessing this way, and no one ever corrected him, until one day when he was asked to say the blessing at some school function, which was a big honour. So he gets up and announces "in the name of the father, the son, and into the hole he goes." Mayhem ensues. There is an argument between him and the priest as to the correct wording of the blessing. His parents are called to leave work and immediately come to the school. Upon hearing the story from the priest, a strange look comes over this father's face and he has to leave the room. Alex is terrified he is in serious trouble. Turns out his father couldn't keep a straight face and didn't want to burst out laughing in the room with
I love my present!
Tissue paper wrapped around our Belleek mugs - Ella loves it.
the priest. His mother thought it was funny too. That's when Alex realized his parents weren't the strict Catholics he had thought they were. I wanted to name a blog entry "In the name of the father, the son, and into the hole he goes" but I couldn't work it in😊.
Well, on that note, that brings an end to the Ireland blog, I hope you have enjoyed reading it and travelling along with us! Until the next time, slainte
! (to your health).
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