So my family came to visit me in Ireland this past week. Meaning I am going to have to condense a week’s worth of shenanigans into one post, because I’m going home tomorrow!! which is a pretty big celebratory moment for me. I wants mah coffee and mah car.
Well I made them go to Kylemore Abbey first off, which I won’t post any pictures of because they’re all already up here. The only real difference is that it was rainy and the flowers had bloomed. Very pretty, but quite grey (and chilly). We discovered my father cannot take pictures, even with a super high tech camera that makes it difficult to take bad pictures. Shame.
Next stop was the Aran Islands, which are really quite beautiful, even if it was still raining and even colder. The weather was 70s and sunny. Then John and Sandy come and it gets rainy and cold. I blame them. But on another note: hello incredibleness. As someone who was not overly impressed with the Cliffs of Moher, I would like to offer this for your perusal. While not as high as the Cliffs, you can look over the edge. But it’s very windy, so I recommend lying down while doing so.
We hit up Dun Aengus, which was epic (and where the cliffs from the previous picture were), but unfortunately it was really foggy, so most of my distance pictures of it are just grey and you can kind of see maybe where it might possibly sort of be.
I pretty much insisted that we go see Newgrange because, c’mon guys, it’s Newgrange. You don’t get anything awesomer than that. It’s so awesome that, by the awesomeness bylaws, I am not required to keep proper grammar. It’s like 3000 years old, and older than both Stonehenge and the Pyramids, because these people were epic like that. And you know that’s what they were thinking while they were building it. It was nothing to do with winter solstices. They were all “We’ve got to beat the Brits and the Egyptians!!” Clearly.
So that picture is from a good distance away, as you can tell by all the little bitty people there. But you can also see the massiveness of Newgrange compared to the little bitty people there.
And I got so excited about telling everyone about Newgrange that I am disregarding the wibbly wobbly, timey wimey rules again. The tour, Mary Gibbons Tours I believe, left from Dublin, which means we got up very early and got on a very long bus ride to Dublin. And as the Queen was there, roads were shut down and there was something like 9000 extra Garda (throughout Ireland I’m assuming, not just Dublin… even though there well could have been). First off we hit up the Hill of Tara, which was pretty awesome because it figures prominently in most of Ireland’s mythological history. Cool things went down there.
All the buildings are long since gone, but the ridges and stuff apparently shows where they were. So pretty cool, overall. Our guide said that on a clear day (which it wasn’t, even if it wasn’t really raining at the time) you can see something like 2/3 of Ireland. Even so, the views were spectacular. And it was windy. Very, very windy.
That was pretty much all the tour was, just the Hill of Tara and Newgrange and a lot of history, which I was fine with, because I like history. But still, you know. Newgrange. People built that thing. By hand. By themselves. It probably took them something like fifty years, meaning that the people who started it very likely did not ever see it completed. They brought various stones from (I think) as far as 3 km away, which is a big deal when you don’t have pickup trucks, semis, or cranes. There’s a picture of my dad standing in front of Newgrange on facebook, and it’s waaaaay taller than him.
Okay, moving on. Next trip: Cork. Participants: John, Sandy, Chelsea, and Emma.
We wanted to kiss the Blarney Stone (and I’ll get to that, promise) but more exciting news first. We knew the Queen was in Ireland and that she was spending a few hours in Cork on the day we were there, so as we were walking to our B&B we saw a big part of the road blocked off and Sandy stopped to ask a Garda when she was supposed to be coming through. It wasn’t that big of a wait (even though it turned out to be. Queens sort of get to make their own timelines) so we found a barricade with no one standing at it and camped out for a while. The woman standing next to us was pretty awesome and told us all sorts of interesting things while we were waiting, including that part of the reason the Queen was late was because she decided she wanted tea. Seriously. She just decided she wanted tea, made her entire motorcade stop, and had some tea. Can you imagine the poor waitress (or waiter) in the shop she decided to stop at? Oh, by the way honey, I served the Queen of England tea today at work.
But after a while of watching more and more and more Garda show up, including the Garda equivalent of the FBI (seriously, they had the same dark blue/almost black jacket with yellow lettering on it). Something finally happened. A Garda on a motorcycle almost hit a pigeon. Poor thing looked terrified. Oh, you wanted to know the really cool thing that happened? I saw the Queen. That’s right. The Queen of England drove by. Well, she didn’t drive. And if you zoom way in on the picture, she’s practically looking right at the camera. I fangirled a little bit. I’ll be honest.
Well, then we wanted to leave, because it’s been like four hours, right? Well they wouldn’t open the gates and we could not figure out why. The Queen was on her way back to the airport, and it’s not like we could run fast enough to catch her. Well suddenly the Garda on the motorcycles who had been at the front of the motorcade came back and we were like, oh. Well okay.
But then back comes the Range Rover with the Queen. Heading the opposite direction. And somehow she’s still on the same side of the road as us. How does that work out? Conclusion: I’ve been to London twice and she hasn’t been at the Palace either time. Therefore: She had to drive by on my side twice to make up for it. WIN.
So I saw the Queen of England. In Cork. Randomly.
We knew she was going to be there, but not where she was going to be, or when she was going to be there. It was kind of epic.
All right, I need to wrap this up, because it’s getting monstrously long. So Blarney Castle. The stairs up to the Blarney Stone are terrifying. They’re spiral but super narrow and they have a rope running vertically along the center of the stairs to serve as a handrail. And as someone who gets a liiiiiiiittle bit claustrophobic, this was not an okay situation. I had my backpack with me (because we had to check out of our B&B that day) so the already tight corners were a little tighter. I do okay if I’m in a low room, but if the walls are very close to my shoulders, I am not okay. But I survived! Phew. You thought my ghost was writing this, didn’t you? Zombies are nowhere near as good at spelling or grammar than ghosts.
Well kissing the Blarney stone is scary. You are very high up, basically hanging over the edge of the ramparts with three rails below you and a guy holding onto you. And then he tells you to kiss the bottom stone. Which is, you know, low.
So that’s all of us, kissing the Blarney stone. I went all tourist and bought the “official” picture, complete with the certificate. Heh. Oh well, once in a lifetime, right?
Well, that’s pretty much the family adventures in Ireland. We’re going to spend a little time in Galway today (my last day!) I’m a little sad about leaving, but at the same time I am very ready to return to Minnesota and my home sweet home.
You’ll get the obligatory blog post written immediately upon my return (once I wake up) and the also obligatory reflective blog post within a few weeks of my return.
One last final note: Minnesota senators and representatives, I am completely ashamed of every single one of you who voted in favor of the amendment. This proposed constitutional amendment is completely unconstitutional and who gave you the right to determine who is allowed to marry? When did part of being an elected official include the “duty” to determine who is allowed to love each other?