Saturday, September 5, 2015

Home Again, but Ireland on My Mind

I came home late Wednesday evening after two days of travel--first from Dublin to Washington DC, then from my sister's home in northern Virginia to my own home in these West Virginia hills. Leaving the cool weather of the island and returning to temperatures near 90 degrees was a real shock, and I was longing to return as soon as that hot air blasted my face. (Yes, there's a lot of hot air in DC but I'm talking about the weather!)

I have many photos to post, as I took over 1000 during the trip. Many will be deleted of course, as I sort through them, but many really captured the beauty and character of the places we saw and I can't wait to share them.

A few random notes about Ireland:

Bird's eye view of Limerick, from King John's Castle
 First, the people. We met friendly, helpful people wherever we went. If we asked directions, we got FULL directions, often with a story, advice, and questions to us about where we were from and why we were in Ireland. For example, when we asked for walking directions to our Limerick hotel, the man stopped his conversation with his girlfriend and gave us detailed instructions, including where the best places were to cross the street, what the white tented building we might see would be (their market), and then, looking at the sky, suggested that we might be in for a "lashing" and maybe a cab would be a better idea--and that we could get a cheaper fare from the cabs across the street rather than those right at the train station.

Tig Coili's, where well-known groups often play. We didn't get a chance to
hear any music here though.
Another time we were looking for a place to eat a late lunch/early dinner in Galway. We'd taken a taxi downtown from our out-of-the-way hotel, and the driver dropped us at Shop Street, one of the busiest pedestrian streets in Ireland. We wandered along between shops, street performers, and restaurants looking for Tig Coili's, a place recommended by a man on the train for its traditional music. We found the place, but it was packed. A vendor packing up his wares outside asked us what we were looking for. When we said, "Food" he said, "Well, there's no food in there, only booze, and the music won't start until much later." Oh dear. We were hungry! I asked about a pub across the way, and he said, "Oh, that place! I wouldn't go there. They can't even make a cheese sandwich correctly." He then directed us to another pub, the King's Head, and said we'd find good food there. He was right.
Beautiful Galway
Second, the language. Irish (or Irish Gaelic) is making a comeback. It's taught in schools, and every sign is in both English and Irish. We often heard the language being spoken. I learned a few words, such as tig (pronounced "tchee", I think) means house, ath means ford, failte means welcome, river is abhainn. The alphabet does not include all of the letters we are accustomed to: no j, k, q, v, w, x, y, or z, except in words that have transitioned from English. Some words are used differently too: a "lashing" could mean a quick, sudden, fairly strong rain shower rather than a beating; "bucketing" is a real steady, long downpour; "crack" (the craic) means a really good time with stories, conversation and music; "black" means not only the color but a pub or other place is full of people.

A Dublin Street. What the photo doesn't show is the typical foot traffic. Streets are usually jammed with people.
"Guard" (Garda) is the police. While walking in Dublin our first morning there we saw a street fight in progress. two men were making ineffective (and probably substance-impaired) swings at each other while a third man tried to break up the fight. Passers-by stopped to watch and shouted to the men to "give it up now" and stop!" However, most effective was a man who shouted, "Here comes the Guard!" The fight stopped immediately, amid laughter and jeers from the watchers. "Yeah, couldn't even get a blow in, could they? No shape to fit, those two."

Third, when asking for water, you might want to ask for "still' water. Many place also serve soda water so if you want just plain water, you ask for still. Just to be sure.

Copyright Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Mac n' Janet said...

I agree about the people, we thought they were the best part of Ireland. Glad you had a good trip, looking forward to your pictures.

Quinn said...

I came back from Ireland in 1995 and it's still on my mind, too!
Welcome home, Sue :)


This place sounds awesome. Maybe someday for me. Not a big traveler but would love to go there.

Laura Treacy Bentley said...

Thanks for sharing, Susanna. I feel like I'm there again!

annie said...

hoping to see more of the photos!

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