Tuesday, November 24, 2015

     The Emerald Isle is rightly named.  Driving through the countryside of Ireland, the green seems almost fake.  Do you remember the long neon green grass that is used in Easter Baskets?  I always wondered what person thought grass actually looked like that.  Now I think that person has been to Ireland.
     Because it is finally getting VERY cold, some of the flowers are starting to die, just enough that they are faded around the edges, but still vibrant in the middle.  With all the colors, Ireland seemed like a painting.  It doesn’t seem like one place could lay claim to so many colors.  Even the houses were bright! 
     They ranged from yellow, to blue, to green, to pink, and every color in-between.  Yet they didn’t stick out.  The bright colors blended perfectly with the landscape.  Ireland is a different kind of bright.  It is not the happy bright of the Caribbean or the sophisticated bright of an Art Gallery.  Ireland is a natural bright.  All of the colors are a reflection of the world around them.
     Although the pink houses may at first seem odd, the hills and rocks change colors under the constantly moving rays of sun that peak through the clouds over head.  And in those rays you can watch the world change colors, and in the rocky out-croppings and the broken down old castles you can see flashes of a natural pink, so suddenly the pink houses don’t seem as strange.
     The same is true for all of the colors.  And as you explore you find the odd ‘normal’ colored house, be it red brick or white paneling, and suddenly that is the building that doesn’t fit with the rest of the view.
     Even more impressive than the greens and the multi colored houses are the sheer drops to the sea.  If you were to look as far into the distance as you could anywhere else, you would see the earth give off a gentle cover, and you would see the land as if it was rising to meet that curve.  Not so in Ireland.  When you look as far as you can go, you see the world curving and you the land coming to an end.  And you know at that end there are mighty waves and gigantic cliffs.
     I got to visit some of those cliffs, the Moher Cliffs, and was completely stunned.  It was freezing and windy, but it was beautiful.  You could see the stratifications in the rocks, but they weren’t the sandy browns and reds of the US, these were black and grey and green, and when the waves came up to slap the face of the cliff they blended with the water as if they were one.
     Because the water was not blue, or green, or clear.  It was the oddest combination of all of those.  It was as if all the green from the Irish land was combined with all of the blue of the visible sky and transformed into a near translucent heaving body that lapped at the cliffs and at the horizon.
I felt as if I should be able to see down to the bottom of the ocean, but also as if the water was roughly blown glass, thick enough to walk on.
     The sound of the waves hitting the cliffs is indescribable.  Less sharp than a gun shot, but bass drums are deeper.  Not the slap of a hand to a face, or a pat from hand to leg.  Loud but gentle.  Firm but not disagreeable.  And when the waves hit the cliffs, the water droplets would fly up, if they managed to beat the wind, and form an incandescent shower when they passed through a beam of sunlight. 
     Standing on the edge of the cliffs was perhaps the most beautiful thing I have ever witnessed, with the raw power of the ocean below, the breathtaking height of the cliffs, and the sprinkles of seawater that seemed to float through the air.

     So in short, Ireland was beautiful.  The group I was with was wonderful.  Our guide was fantastic.  I have enjoyed every part of my trip ‘across the pond’ but the Irish leg of my adventure will almost certainly stand out as one of the best parts.
The view approaching Blarney Castle

Blarney Castle

The beautiful Irish Countryside

The Cliffs of Moher

A little rebuilt Medieval Village outside of Bunratty Castle 

Bunratty Castle 

The front of Bunratty Castle

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