Just two weeks ago I had just flown back to the UK, after the most wonderful trip to the land of leprechauns and Guinness.
It was my first trip to Ireland and I had the best possible introduction to the country, with my Aunty being my most magnificent tour guide. The long weekend I spent with her was filled with delicious food, art, serene countryside views, castles and history of the land and it’s people – which I knew surprisingly little about! I can now, however tell you that the Irish coined the word ‘boycott’, Protestants and Catholics were not the best of friends, and that an average Irish worker survived on a lot of spuds, eating about 4 kilos of potatoes a day (Tim Noakes would not approve…) – well before the Famine hit.
The Irish are definitely some of the friendliest people I have ever met, barely ever walking past a stranger without saying hello, and making conversation with the old local fisherman bringing in his fresh catch is just an everyday normality. In fact upon arriving, I had barely been in the country an hour before I was handed a glass of wine and was deep in conversation with one of my Aunt’s friends about South Africa. I had never felt so welcome so quickly amongst people I had never met before, in a country I had never before visited. It will be one of the things I definitely remember about the country – the Irish people – no matter how hard I sometimes had to concentrate to be able to properly hear what they were saying (The Irish accent can be tricky to decode to the untrained ear). Alcohol is however the next thing I’ll remember about the Irish…
The Irish must be trained at a tremendously young age to drink, as they can somehow handle their alcohol incredibly well and are overly generous in buying and offering it to everyone. Again, their friendliness and generosity bowled me over, but the drinks nearly did too! Luckily this was averted!
If you ever manage to get to Ireland, one of my biggest recommendations would be to attend what’s known as an Irish Hooley – A night of Irish dancing, music and food. The evening was hosted in the highest pub in Ireland, Johnnie Foxes, an eclectic mish-mash of old signs, antiques and reminders of an era gone by. The eclectic amalgamation of decor was mirrored in the variety of people that filled the pub. Not only were there interesting characters, but people from all over the world could be seen and heard throughout the pub. Johnnie Foxes was a joyous mix of Irish ballads, hearty food, laughter and you guessed it…alcohol!
After a fun and sight seeing-filled weekend, we started off our Monday with a much needed, good hike. And good it was – the scenery, the route, the conversation and the poetry.
All along the route were benches with the beautiful words by Seamus Heaney, an acclaimed poet and Nobel prize winner who lived in the area. The walk had beautiful forests, outlooks and mossy valleys all which seemed to be reflected perfectly in his poetry of the area – I can totally get it though, there’s something that stirs inside of you when you’re that immersed in nature and its beauty, something that might make you take a photo, stare in awe or even write a poem.
Ireland was a magical adventure, a place I hope to return to (perhaps in the summer months when it’s a bit warmer, the Irish winter does not play games, it’s REALLY COLD).
Take a look at some of the photos from the trip below!