29 August 2011

Seeing Forty Shades of Green


Castles that hold a mysterious power over you, faces that tell a story unlike any you’ve experienced before. Quaint towns that tell of an innocent time of the past that seemed to no longer exist and lush rolling, green hills that are only interrupted by ancient stone walls…and sheep. Lots and lots of sheep. These are some of the things that made me fall in love with Ireland – a love affair that has lasted over 8 years and has (sadly for her) only been topped by one other country – but that’s another story I will have to soon follow up on.







Ireland was the first place I had ever gone to overseas- and it was a great place to start. I was 16 – in those crucial years that form you as an individual, and I truly believe that this trip changed me for the rest of my life. I remember being apprehensive and anxious about going, as I had never been on such a long flight and I was so comfortable at home; it is always scary going to a new place and being thrown into a sea of strange cultures, customs, smells and feelings – I still feel those things travelling now – even as someone who has a passion for it…but I think it’s just fear of the unknown. But it is so worth it. If you asked me about specific details regarding my trip to Ireland, I probably couldn’t recall most of the names, dates or all of the cities (as much as I wish I could), but something grew inside of me during that short week and a half. I began seeing the world in a new light, developing an inescapable passion for the beautiful differences in other cultures and finding the special things that bring us together. As much as you have to do some of the touristy things (you just have to take a photo holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa, you have to get a photo of Buckingham Palace’s guards, and who doesn’t want to pet a koala? These things are famous for a reason), but there’s something so cleansing and true about visiting a small town or walking 3 alleys down from the touristy one.

And that’s what I loved so much about Ireland – it easily transported me hundreds of years back to a simpler, more naturalistic time. I started my time in Dublin, which really was a whirlwind as I had never experienced jet lag like this before, and completed a counter-clockwise circle from there to County Mayo, Galway (one of my personal favorites- a cute little town by the sea), the Ring of Kerry, Killarney, Blarney (Blarney castle!), Waterford and ending up in Dublin once more. I enjoyed walking in the fresh, crisp air, I enjoyed walking amongst the ancient churches, smelling the age of a place (even if I almost passed out from the musty odor of one of Ireland’s beautiful manors….true story!). I enjoyed seeing extraordinary things (Cliffs of Moher – even if it was foggy – and the beautiful beaches along the Ring of Kerry) and meeting people I would never forget (Tom Comerford – a great Irish folk singer- John Joe our awesome guide). It was an experience unlike any other. I believe Brendan Vacations still offers this tour as well – it is called “Glimpse of Ireland”. It was a great way to start my lifelong obsession with travel – learning to see the beauty of different people and God’s astounding creations. So – here they are, a collection of anticlimactic photos (most of which my mom took) and needless to say, this is before my other love of art and photography really began to take shape.


Driving down Dublin's city center



Gotta love wrong camera settings - but this would be an young Irish dancer.



The manor I almost passed out in. Nothing a little fresh air couldn't cure.


I have no idea what this is called - but it sure is nice to look at :)


Kylemore Abbey. One of my favorite photos from the trip, with its beautiful architecture 
and refreshing landscape...I really could live here. (Ireland, in general - although 
staying in this luxurious place would be fabulous!)



Me and my mom and stepdad - 2003



Can I just move in now?


Love.


The Ring of Kerry on a beautiful summer day (i.e. no rain!)


Kissin' the Blarney Stone.


Tom Comerford - bought a cd of his - and I still listen to it (8 years later!)


My family and John Joe - our Irish guide and driver (multi-tasker!). Definitely an unforgettable experience!



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