Monday, July 9, 2012

Irish Eyes Are Smiling

I am unbelievably happy to tell you all that I have just enjoyed a most amazing vacation in the land of leprechauns and fairies.  That's right -- I flew home last night from ten days in Ireland, a land so green and a people so friendly and sights so spectacular that it's a wonder I ever came back!
An evening of storytelling and music on our first night in Ireland
The trip was not my idea, nor my plan.  I give all the credit to my best friend, Kari, who gifted the vacation to her parents at Christmas in honor of her father's 80th birthday this year.  In January Kari asked me if I would like to tag along. We would have a personal tour guide for the entire trip, she said, and we would be driven all over Southern Ireland in a private van -- a Mercedes Benz as it turned out.  How could I say no?
Blarney Castle in County Cork
I budgeted carefully and by May I was able to purchase my plane ticket and pay for my share of the tour.  I was going to Ireland!
Me with Kari and her parents in front of Kylemore Abbey
The trip Kari put together was outstanding.  Our guide, 36-year-old Ciaran Ganter who, with his brother Ronan, contracts with the tour group company "Exploring Ireland", was exceptional in every way.  I have decided that there is no better way to explore a foreign land than by having a private tour guide.  Ciaran saw to our every need, gave us pointers about how to spend our down time, and was intelligent, thoughtful, courteous, conscientious and funny at every turn.  He should be cloned.
Touring the Waterford crystal factory
Our guide, Ciaran Ganter
I will be putting together a web album of the entire trip and will post a link to the album, along with a journal I kept during the adventure, as soon as I can.  Meanwhile, here are some highlights and a few photographs to whet your appetite. 
Holding a Harris hawk at Aillwee Caverns
We were fascinated by Blarney Castle, where each of us took turns kissing the Blarney Stone, said to convey eloquence upon anyone whose lips touch the rock.  By day we visited historic edifices, some of which pre-date the pyramids of Egypt, and at night we found traditional Irish music and local food at old world pubs in each city.  The days fit seamlessly together and the time rushed by, even as we did our best to savor every moment.
Looking out over the Cliffs of Moher

As it turned out, the airlines lost my checked luggage on the way to Ireland, so I wore the same outfit for the first three days of the trip.  Kari's parents' luggage was also lost, and took longer to be returned than mine did.  But nothing could dampen our spirits.  Every day seemed more exciting than the last.

I flew home last night, anxious to be reunited with my kitties and concerned about the condition of my home, since a storm of catastrophic proportions hit Baltimore after I departed, leaving my house without electricity for eight straight days and causing everything in my refrigerator-freezers to be spoiled.  But despite my lost baggage and being greeted by the stench of rotting food as I unlocked the door upon my return, my trip to Ireland was an adventure of a lifetime. I will never forget it.  



  2. What a wonderful trip to such an historic & green island but I think you were born kissing the blarney stone, you eloquent little fairy!

  3. Looks and sounds like a wonderful adventure! Wish I was there with you guys. Can't wait to see and hear the rest of the story. XOXOXOX Love U, Vic