Posts Tagged ‘Derry’

Bombs, Alarms and Castles… Oh My!

Friday, October 14th, 2011

Well, friends, what can I say… these past two days have been very interesting for us.

I try to keep a very open mind, I do. I hate being judged or perceived to be a certain way based on past actions, or the way I look, sound, etc. But my entire life I have heard that Northern Ireland is a hotbed of social discord and one should be very careful while visiting. I have to admit, I had my hesitations about stopping there.

However, if a highly recommended and regarded tour was taking me through Northern Ireland then it must be safe, right? And it was, however, there is a reason why we have gut instincts and my gut instinct was to not like this place.

Let me first start by saying that Derry can be a very beautiful town and like most places of social unrest it has given birth to inspiring murals, museums, theaters and other cultural benefits. Which is probably the reason why a small bomb placed in the cultural center our first night there was so surprising to me.

We didn’t know what it was, but we heard a large explosion and from the window of our corner room on the sixth floor we could see smoke billow out from an alley way. Eric tried telling me that it was a boiler or something of a non-issue, but I knew it wasn’t. I couldn’t sleep that night amongst the shouts and bantering back and forth between people outside.

The next morning we rode the elevator down to the lobby with a lovely older couple who were checking out. The woman asked us if we heard the explosion last night. She was the one that informed us what it was.

“Oh, but don’t worry, dearie, it was just a squib, nothing to be worried about now.”

Oh, just a squib. Psh. That’s nothing.

It wasn’t until later that Eric explained the a “squib” is a small bomb. Well isn’t that nice. Just a squib, then.


A Drive Through the Countryside and Peeing Sheep

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

We had high hopes for today… ok, not really, but we did have some plans that fell through.

We drove up to Connemara National Park to walk around the grounds, but due to the rain and all around miserable day we didn’t stay. In fact, we got out of the car, walked around the visitor’s center and learned about the natural habitat and bogs, took one picture of a man-made waterfall and left.

We go all the way to a beautiful national park and took a picture of a man made waterfall.

I do have to say the ride to the national park was quite fun. For a week now we’ve been driving around the Irish countryside and a brunt of our conversations revolve around the sheep we see dotting the mountains. (Look to my Day 4 post of the trip for more on our sheep conversations.) This is a conversation we had today…

(After seeing sheep quietly eating grass by a lake)

Me: What if the sheep falls in?

Eric: It gets wet.

Me: But how does it get out?

Eric: I would assume they can swim. I mean, deer can swim so why not sheep?

Me: …pull over.

Eric: I am NOT pulling over so you can push a sheep in the water to see if it swims!

So, I didn’t get to do a little experiment about the aquatic abilities of sheep but thanks to some road side wanderers another sheeply question of ours was answered.

I’ve been wondering how the farmers were keeping track of all these sheep. Some of these guys are by themselves on the side of some mountain, totally removed from civilization. Luckily for us, we got up close and personal with some sheep today, so up and close that one felt comfortable enough to pee in front of us. 😉

Actually, he tried to run away but ended up running in front of us, then on the side of the road he peed a little, then ran a little, then peed some more, then ran. It was quite amusing.

"Whatchu looking at?"

"You literally scared the piss out of me!"
















Not only did I get a close view of a sheep peeing, I got a close look at his ear that had a tracking device pierced through it. Mystery #1 was solved. Now if Eric would have only pulled over I would have had the answer to my second question already.

After saying goodbye to our sheep friends we headed to Brigit’s Garden, 11 acres of woodland with gardens and areas set up as each of the seasonal celebrations at the heart of Celtic mythology. If you’re interested in Celtic mythology including the four seasons (Samhain, Imbolc, Bealtaine, and Lughnasa) I highly recommend stopping by here, especially if its a new interest for you.

The first area is divided up into four areas, each one explaining the four seasons and their significance to Celtic mythology. There’s also a trail that leads you through the grounds that explains certain plants, trees and wildlife that played a part in Celtic mythology.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is an absolutely stunning and inspiring place in the Spring and Summer when the flowers and plant life are alive and beautiful. However, on a cold, dreary, wet day in the middle of October it was… well, it was wet.  Luckily for me I have an imagination and I swore I could hear the fairies laughing at our misfortune with the rain. 🙂

Diarmuid and Grainne's bed - a secluded hollow where mythical lovers can rest and watch the stars above them. (Bealtaine)

Walkway through the forest










Now that our feet were sufficiently soaked through we decided we had enough of the rain and drove back into Galway to buy some souvenirs. We walked around downtown Galway, bought some Celtic rings, ate at a McDonalds (it felt wrong) and got some jewelry and knick-knacks at the Connemara Marble gift shop. (Really, truly beautiful pieces here, friends. If you’re a cherished loved one or family member, you may see a little marble clover in your future.) 😉

We ended the night at the hotel bar, eating spectacular food, drinking Guinness, Bulmer’s Cider, (strong!) Irish coffee and watching the Republic of Ireland take Armenia in a Euro 2012 qualifying match. It’s one thing to watch a soccer match at home, but in a country were soccer is a bit bigger than America and it’s their team you’re watching, um, yeah, whole new ball game here, folks!

Now its time to talk with my girls then tuck myself in. We have a long drive ahead of us tomorrow all the way up to Derry/Londonderry. Thank you, Galway, it’s been an honor!

***Note: Thanks to Kristi Silva for commenting on my Facebook page with this clip of Peter, the swimming sheep. Check it out! Amazing! (I like his little wiggle at that end!) 😉

A Dream Vacation

Monday, October 3rd, 2011

Hello friends!

Tomorrow night I leave for a trip of a lifetime! That’s right, ladies and gents, my dream of visiting Ireland is about to come true. For 11 nights I’ll be traveling the Emerald Isle’s rolling hills taking in the sights, the sounds, and the accents (sigh). I’m just a tad bit excited, if you haven’t guessed.

Cabra Castle - one of the hotels we'll be staying in.

There is something about Ireland that as soon as almost anyone hears that you’re visiting their eyes light up and there’s just a wee bit of jealousy underlining their well wishes. And who can blame them? Ireland is a place of magic, of inspiration, two things I’m in desperate need of.

I talked Eric into getting me a small data package for my phone; that way I’ll be able to tweet a little each day about my adventures. In addition to that my hope is to blog some posts, with pictures, about my journey around Eire.

My trip starts and ends in Dublin with stops in Cork, Killarney, Galway, Derry and Kingscourt and I’d love you’d come with me! So, stop by sometime within the next two days for my first post. Our flight leaves Newark at 7pm Tuesday night and we get in around 7am Ireland time on Wednesday. (They are five hours ahead of EST.) We can’t check into our hotel until 1pm so I’m not sure when I’ll have internet access to update you to my schedule. But once things get settled and I get a feel for our itinerary I’ll let you guys know. 😉

So until then, have a lovely evening. I need to get things settled on the Writing on the Rocks front before I leave, and I still have some packing to do. But fear not, friends! I have plenty of wine to accompany me through the night. 🙂