[Originally published Tue 22 Jan 2008, updated]
The Irish people walk among you. They carry leprechauns in their pockets. A few of them remember wee bits of the ancient language. Sadly some descendants today are not aware of their Celtic ancestry.
I was one of the Irish diaspora who not only knew the story of my Irish heritage, but I had a chance to visit Ireland. I traveled with a tour group in June a few years ago, and I left my heart behind.
Our road trip started in Dublin, Ireland and continued south in a loop mostly near the coastline, and then proceeded north to Limerick City. The entire country was a delight, and so this article will not advocate just one location in Ireland to visit. See the entire country if possible! (grin)
Surprises I Encountered During My Trip To Ireland:
— Due to either traveling during a good month, or just having the luck of the Irish, it only rained one day of our trip. If you visit remember that Ireland is green for a good reason, and that frequent rainy days are to be expected.
— Americans are warmly welcomed. The Irish call American tourists in their fair land, “visitors.” Even 150 years after An Gorta Mor, the native Irish look fondly upon us, and view us as one of the few peoples who assisted them in their time of need.
— Because Ireland is situated at a high latitude, summer days are incredibly long (the sun may not set until 11:00 pm). During this time it seems that the entire world is outside either shopping, visiting or partying in the middle of the night.
— I always thought that Irish crystal was overpriced until I visited the Waterford Crystal company and observed the time and talent demonstrated by the native craftsmen to create even a simple item. Now I think it is priceless.
— The Irish countryside is dotted with shells of stone house ruins. No one explained to me while I was there, but a recently documentary on Ireland stated it is considered very bad luck to demolish them, and so instead they are left to the wind and sun.
— The word “pub” in Ireland is pronounced differently that in the United States.
— In Ireland the beer is warmer, and the Irish whiskey is more potent.
— Those who already have the gift of gab have no need to kiss the Blarney Stone.
— Fucshia (Fuchsia magellanica) grow wild along the roadsides as hedge plants, especially in western Ireland. Most English speakers pronounce this plant “fyew’sha” and it may be the only word ending with the letter “a” that New Hampshirites do not PRONOUNCE as “er.”
This article was originally written as a submission to the 3rd edition of the Carnival of Irish Heritage and Culture, at the Small-leaved Shamrock blog. In this edition we are invited to visit Irish places, in and outside of Ireland.
The photograph above is one that I took of Blarney Castle in Cork County, Ireland. The view is looking up to the grated area where people bend under and kiss the “Blarney Stone.” And nope, I didn’t.