Jim and I are both Irish. Jim descends from Sheas, Campbells, and Byrnes and more.
I descend from Lonergans and Fagans - that I know of. All those connections and we had never been to Ireland.
This summer was time - and we went.
We returned last week and are still sorting out the laundry, the papers , the photos and the memories.
I am starting with just a few highlight images. I know the stories will emerge and I will be writing ever more as the days and weeks go by.
We began our trip on the coast of Ireland - flying into Shannon and joining an Elderhostel group that was starting in the Village of Kenmare.
The first few days the scenery was astonishing. Mountain vistas, beautiful and changing light, ancient stones and wide open spaces. We began with a day bus tour of the Ring of Kerry. There was no other way to do it for us than "by bus" but that is so limiting for really feeling the wind in your face and sitting to watch the changing light that the bus becomes a moving frustration.
I know if we had been traveling by car Jim and I would have found a way to come close to this ancient cahir rather than just ogling it from a bus pull out overhead and trying to get close through the camera telephoto lens.
A view of Dingle Peninsula looking toward the Blasket Islands. Last week-end Jim and I watched the film "Ryan's Daughter" which was filmed along this coast and we relished having this dramatic and beautiful scenery fill our eyes once more.
On my birthday we stopped at Blarney Castle. It loomed over us as we walked toward it. We decided that we have enough "gift of the gab" and we would not huff and puff up the hundreds of steps to kiss the Blarney stone. One of our group did kiss it and he said he tasted that stone for the rest of the day - and we did not hear any noticeable change in his "gab."
These cows in a field alongside the castle walk-way seemed to be taking us all in.
Finally, in Dublin we went to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells. It is always so hard to have waited a long time, and come a far way and get just a few minutes to look because the line is pushing you along. A little bit of whining - sorry.
No disappointment here - New Grange - an 8,000 year old passage tomb. Cool and dry inside just as it has been for all that time. Amazing. IN december at the winter Solstice the light of the rising sun floods the passage and fills the inner chamber with glowing light.
If you have never read "Ulysses",the James Joyce masterpiece, you can at least get a feeling for the setting of the book by following the brass plaques embedded in Dublin sidewalks which mark a moment in the story.