“In Ireland, the inevitable never happens
and the unexpected constantly occur.”
Sir John Pentland Mahaffy*
This Travels Story is going to be My Kind of Ireland as it is very much a beloved home to me and it is also the country where I have lived the longest time in my life. Here is my very First Impressions of Ireland. One thing that there is plenty of in Ireland is the weather. Of the 23 summers that I was in Ireland only two were great the whole summer long; the one in the 1983 and the other in 1995. The rest can be best forgotten as they were nothing to write home about. This summer, while I was there, was a mixed bag: the beaming sun, when it was absolutely sweltering, the heavy showers good few days, the chilled days when my hands, nose and so on, were numb with the cold, the lot really, par for the actual snow. The Irish humour comes in handy many a time in days like these. The Emerald Isle is emerald for this very reason and the gardens do flourish due to the weather. Here is My Picture Book of some of my photos that I took this summer.
Here is the Wikipedia Portal: Ireland which is excellent and has plenty of further links on to a variety of places, topics and the like. The shape of Ireland, I was told and later witnessed it myself, is rather like a deep plate: flat in the middle with the high edges as the mountains wrap the coasts on all sides of the island; The Mountains of Mourne in the North, The Twelve Bens in Connemara on the west coast, and there is also a chain of mountains in Kerry in the south-western tip of the country. There are other mountains inland as well as the one in Tipperary -The Galtee Mountains. My favourite mountains are the Wicklow Mountains on the east coast and the Twelve Bins or Bens in Connemara on the west coast. Here is a map of the region in Connemara. The Bens in Connemara have large amounts of lakes round them and in parts it is very ‘Sound of Music’ scenery at these mountains like the place called the Kylemore Abbey is. The hills are very much alive there with the sound of resident nuns, students and the mother abbess! The abbess – the head nun, was rather amused when told that this is what I thought about the Kylemore Abbey.
The West of Ireland and Connemara in particular are my absolute favourite places in Ireland to have a break and a holiday. The weather can never be counted on in Ireland, as one can have all the seasons of the year in a day, but at least one can look at the stunning scenery while warmly wrapped up in the layers and eat good food at enormously expensive prices. The best times to travel to Ireland weather wise are the months of January, May and September as these months tend to be very sunny and to have great weather. July is an absolute no-no as it is near 100% that it will rain buckets! My late father-in-law’s explanation for the horrid July weather year in-year out while I was living in Ireland, was that ‘the salmon are going back home to die and that’s why it has to rain for them.’
There are fabulous places there such as Clifden, a most dainty picturesque village, Roundstone, where there are two most beautiful sandy beaches and if the weather is right you will have a ball; Ballyconneely where the very first transatlantic flight by Alcock & Brown in 1909 landed in and Oughterard where one can do great fishing and good boating. You can read more about the flight and other interesting facts in the link provided. This place is also famous for breeding the Connemara Ponies. Letterfrack is where the Connemara National Park is located and where my girls, when they were growing up, loved to go.
There are stunningly fabulous scenes everywhere one turns the eyes to, but The One that for me takes the cake is Leenane bordering between the counties of Galway and Mayo. The Field – the play by J.B.Keane – was filmed in this place. It was while touring this part of Ireland in 1990 that we bumped into Jack Charlton in a poky tiny pub/grocery/newsagent’s in Leenane just a few days after the good play by Ireland in the World Cup of Football of that year in Italy. He is a very approachable man, indeed, as we had good talk with him there.
Galway town is not to be confused with the County Galway where all the above villages I have mentioned are situated. Galway town is said to be one of the fastest growing towns in Europe and it’s definitely on top of the list of my very favourite places to go to in Ireland. The Gaeltacht regions of this area are where the Irish language is spoken as the main language and where the eastern coast school children are sent to many times to improve their language** skills. In Galway the in-word used to be ‘mighty’ as in ‘super, great, wonderful’ and any superlative you’d want to describe of something that one really, really likes.
Tis for now, yet again. Riihele xx
*source: Ireland.ie website online
** There is the compulsory Irish language at the schools in Ireland.
Photo of the Wicklow Mountains is by friends of mine and used with their permission.