Saturday, November 26, 2011

Yeh absolutely Lovely, ye really are. Ye really are.

Last week I flew to Ireland. I'm not going to lie, it didn't take a whole lot of planning. Pretty much, I sat down at my computer and the idea popped into my head and for the first time in my life, I thought 'I'd like to go to Ireland'. It was almost like that 'I think I want cereal for breakfast' feeling. So I bought some tickets off of my best friend-internet site (skyscanner) and reserved a hotel and rental car. Luckily, my adorably understanding and sweet husband did what he's so good at (understanding or at least pretending to) and kindly went along with my unfounded trip plans, which I had no certain explanation for. He supported them anyway,  unfortunately he wasn't physically able to ACTUALLY come along (some people actually have jobs I guess), so I went alone. A couple of days later I did something very unnatural for me... I'd almost call it an anomaly, but I like that word too much to use so casually. I packed my suitcase the day before the flight. Not like there was a lot to pack, one of the requirements of flying on a wickedly cheap airline is that A) you might actually need to know how to operate the emergency Exit door and B)you can only bring a bag the size of your makeup kit. Okay, I exaggerated, but still... only one slightly smaller than usual carryon. The only tough part was jamming my tripod in diagonally... and then fitting my camera gear in... and of course my mini-dell.... and that darn makeup bag... AND clothes for nearly a week of Ireland. Just to be on the safe side I wore the ugliest clothes that I have; my baggy black "travel pants", and the delusive green sweater my sister gave me. I say delusive because when she (or my cousin) wore it she (they) looked like a Ralph Lauren ad (I saw with my own eyes!) and when I put it on I just looked like, well, probably like an unattractive kid named Ralph.

The news is; I love Ireland. With all my heart. I really do. I spent my time there writing, taking pictures and exploring (all while praying not to die due to my driving). I can handle twisting skinny roads and steep cliffs with only barbed wire fences for guard rails (how unpleasant would that be? Can you imagine driving off a cliff to your most certain death and getting scraped up by barbed wire on the way down? Miserable), fast speeds, driving on the left side of the road, sitting on the right side of the car and driving a stick.... but ALL those things added together? PLUS THE SCENERY?
I've got two words for you;
Adrenaline Rush.
I mean really, why skydive when you can drive through southern Ireland? I'd still opt for skydiving. It's much safer. Plus, when you jump out of an airplane they don't authorize 1700 dollars on your credit card just in case you come back with a measly scratch.

The scenery was breathtaking. The people were incredibly friendly and usually incredibly old. Maybe it was just where I was, but it really seemed like I didn't see a single young person the whole time. It just seemed like an old place in general. Old and calm. Quiet even. I stayed in a sweet little village near the Ring of Kerry (a beautiful and life threatening costal drive), in an adorable B&B ran by an adorable old Irish Grandpa named John.

I think my favorite thing about the trip was the feel of the place. If felt like everywhere you go someone will walk up and say hello and stop to talk for 5-20 minutes. It seemed like in the little villages, everyone is either your friend or going to be soon. Imagine that.. me making friends... IN the goblin sweater! Haha! Actually, I didn't make any REAL friends, but I did talk to a lot of people and got to glance into their lives for just a moment and I usually went away thinking that I'd like to be real friends with them. I saw a lot of pairs of very kind eyes there. Except for the chainsaw salesman... he was terrifying. I'll see if I can post a little clip of him on the job. If it doesn't work, just know he was at least 6.5 feet tall, skinny legs, huge upper half, red sweater and yelling at people while trying to force them into buying chainsaws. Don't forget to add the Irish accent, stereotypically speaking, the guy was the epitome of a thug. It's amazing I haven't had nightmares about him yet. A chainsaw seller.. of all things for a man like that to sell!

 I thought this would be a nice place to grow old.

 This luxurious two lane road (speed limit 40MPH!) was a joy to drive on. Really, aside from thinking that every second might be my last (before the barbed wire and plummeting to death thing) it was lovely.

                                   I love this picture. Something about the colors.

 This is my little friend "Pluto". According to Jim O'Conner (his employee/owner) Pluto drinks two pints of Guinness every night.

 When I asked Jim if Pluto was an alcoholic dog he said "naw, naw, he ain't an alcoholic dog, not yet he ain't, but he's headed down that road he is, he's headed down that road. He won't sleep without it. I have to give it to him. He's the boss he is. He's the boss you know?"

 Even with a hangover, Pluto was a pretty talented dog. At Jims request he dropped his treasure of a rock and retrieved his frisbee from the open van door. When Jim was busy trying to fend off the chainsaw sellers, Pluto reluctantly turned to me to throw his frisbee, but then decided it was more fun to push it into my hand until I tried to grab it and then pull it away from me. Over and over again. I can just imagine what he was thinking, 'humans are so easily entertained'...I agreed with Jim "Pluto is the boss."

 Jim told me times are tough in Ireland. He said the recession has so many out of work. He said he used to be a fisherman, but the village sold their rights to fish the river to foriegners. Today he and Pluto just came down to the port to watch the water and clean up his little fishing boat. I could tell there were a million stories he wasn't telling me. I could see it in his eyes.


I took this shot from someone's front yard. It must be miserable, staring out at that crappy view every day.

 This bay is located right in front of a chocolate factory. A real one. Full of smiling Irish women in hair nets and aprons.

 Meet me for lunch, or for forever... which ever.

 There are two things  I really love; Sheep and painted sheep. Which might be why I loved Ireland so much. It's loaded with flocks of painted sheep. I'm not certain why, I'm thinking it would be a convenient way to distinguish who is who or who's is who's. I heard from a local that it might have something to do with "sheep dipping" which is when they emerge each sheep entirely in a pool of (safe?)  "critter mix" to get rid of the "critters and bugs".

The beach. Even though there are lots of beaches around, this one is called "the beach" and every one knows where it is.

Pluto seemed deep in thought over something. Perhaps he was thinking about the recession as well. Or maybe about going fishing again. Or maybe about the pile of nets he had just peed on.

When I met Margerett, she told me she is nothing special, she is just "half of a shop owner, who owns half of a shop and does nothing but stand in the doorway watching the dear little bird who comes to eat each day. Because things are slow this time of year". I thought she was pretty remarkable, especially because she knew the location of every single article in what she blushingly called her "a bit untidy shop". I'd been standing there for 5 minutes before I even noticed the cash registrar. Can you find it in the picture above?

 The place seemed magical for some reason. Like a treasure chest.

 When I asked this man if i could take his picture he said "ye don't want a picture of me Love, I'm not what they call.... photo...genic.'' I couldn't think of a more photogenic face. I told him he was very handsome and he just grinned at me as he slowly shuffled away. Really, he was adorable.

 This was taken a five minute walk from my B&B.

 A rare photo of the green goblin sweater. Now that I'm looking at it, the smurf boots and pants probably didn't add a whole lot to the togetherness of the outfit. The house behind me is part of a little village on the cliffs that was supposedly abandoned in the Potato Famine of the 1850's.

 I guess I missed the last ferry for the season.

 Oh well. I'll just take the other scenic route.

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