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Monday, July 28, 2014

We made it home, and it was uneventful. I must say that flying out of the Shannon airport was the easiest flight home I think we have ever had. Shannon is the first airport in the world that offers passengers flying into the US the opportunity to pass through US Customs and border patrol before getting on the plane in Ireland. Thus, when you get off the plane in the US (for us it was in JFK) we did not have to wait in the horrible line and deal with any customs. We simply got off the plane and entered the terminal. It was awesome. Right now Canada, some Caribbean airports, United Emirates, and Ireland offer this.

I really love Ireland. It was really a sad moment for me when we left our home in County Kerry. However, as I have spent the last couple of days reflecting on my trip I have found the following things I have discovered and learned:

1. The Irish people are the most friendly people I have ever encountered on all of my trips.

2. The Irish people love potatoes. I ordered a potato cake at one meal and the side dish it came with    was chips (French fries).

3. Guinness in Ireland tastes MUCH better than what it does in the US. I can't stand the stuff here, but in Ireland I actually drank a couple of pints.

4. Life is much more relaxed over there. Everything moves at a slower pace. No one is in a hurry, no one seems to be on a schedule, shops don't even seem to have hours. They just open "when they get there" and close "when they get tired."

5. I need a sleep machine that makes a sheep sound. I never fell asleep more quickly than when I was listening to the sheep every night.

6. They sure don't build things like they did 1500 years ago. We can't build something that will remain up for more than a century. They built stuff that is still up after over a thousand years.

7. Irish people are really healthy. They may drink a lot of pints, eat a lot of potatoes, and eat a lot of meat, but they walk A LOT. I mean they walk A LOT. If they are not walking they are biking, up big hills, I mean REALLY big hills.

8. I think there are more pubs in Ireland than Starbucks in the US.

9. Traveling  is one of the greatest experiences of life. You can learn so much about different cultures, different people, and different lifestyles. It makes you grateful for what you have and gives you ideas for ways to improve your future.

10. Home is a great place to be. No matter what happens home is always where the heart is.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Well, unfortunately Day 9 has arrived and I am writing my last blog from Ireland. However, I feel  truly blessed to have been able to have this vacation to remember and my mom always said I had to go back to work so I could make money to pay for my next vacation.

Today we let the boys go off on their last fishing adventure and unfortunately the fish didn't bite. They did seem to enjoy themselves and found a pub to have a pint where we met them afterwards. They were blending in much like one of the locals.




Stevie and I started our day taking a Jaunting Cart tour of the Killarney National Park. Our driver's name was Mick and he was quite a character. He has been doing this job for 45 years. He even let Stevie drive the cart (and the horse Charlie) for a bit of the way. I think that may have been Stevie's favorite part. The park consists of 25,000 acres of land left to the state by the previous owner who was a man from Philadelphia. Today it is a park with miles of paths that can be used for walking, biking, running, and hiking. It has  3 major lakes, beautiful mountains (named Macgillycuddy's Reeks), cottages, a manor house, gardens, a castle and much more. It was so beautiful and peaceful even though the town of Killarney was all around it.



 

 
 



Then we did a boat tour of the Killarney Lakes. We learned that the fishing problem the guys had been having may have been due to the fact that the lakes are VERY low right now. We were able to see Lough (lake) Leane and how the Macgillycuddy's,Reeks run right up to the lake. We left from Ross Castle and were able to see it from the lake. We had a nice peaceful time on the lake as once again the weather God's looked down upon us with sunshine and a breeze.













We met up with the guy's at the pub and dropped off Dad's car. So now we are home to pack up and get ready to head to the airport tomorrow morning. I will enjoy my last night of the Dingle Bay, the sounds of the sheep, and the peacefulness of God's beauty around me. It is this calm, peacefulness, and beauty I will try to remember this upcoming year when life starts to become so hectic around me.

I will write one more time to let everyone know we are home, but from the beautiful land of Ireland, Slán go fóill. 



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Day 8 and I am sad my time is drawing to a close, but I mustered up the strength to gather everyone up and head out to the Dingle Peninsula and do the Slea Head Loop.

The weather gods were with us again as most of the day was warm and sunny and even as fog started to roll in toward the end, it never did start raining.




We first stopped at these unique beehive hits that date back almost 800+ years. The way these were built were simply amazing. Without using any braces, mortar, or other tools these huts were built by stacking rocks. The rocks were stacked in a way that they began to come a dome and at the top formed a roof. The rocks slanted downward so that the water would run off. Simply amazing that they are still standing. The task of simply moving the large rocks would have been a huge task. We found it interesting that the archaeologists are working on rebuilding some of these, but they cannot rebuild them without braces to hold up their work as they go. Also, I don't think that it looks exactly like the originals.

 
The Original


 
 
The New 
 

Next, we got to see the farthest westward point of Europe while at the same time we were held up because a bus could not make it past a car on a very narrow portion of the road. The car had to back way up so that the bus could pass.

 
The Westernmost Point of Europe



We saw this spot where they filmed Far and Away. This is where the Lord burned all of the peasants out of their dwellings thus causing many of them to emigrate to the US. This was a true part of Irish history, just without Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman.



 

We also saw this beautiful Oratory that was built 1300 years ago using the same methods as the beehive huts. It still remains waterproof inside today. This amazes me because they can't even build my school so that the roof doesn't leak and it certainly isn't that old!




We then headed back into Dingle where we enjoyed a wonderful dinner at Murphy's Pub, did some shopping, watched the fishing boats, and visited the statue of Fungi. Yes, Dingle Bay has a dolphin that has lived there so long that they have named him and given him a statue in the town center.







 
Our Dinner Pub

 
Stevie With Fungi





We headed home to enjoy our sheep for another night. I sure am going to miss listening to them out my window each night as I write this blog and then go to sleep. Something is peaceful and soothing about that being the only sound I can hear.






Tomorrow is the last day. The boys are going fishing and Stevie and I are going to Killarney National Park before we come home to pack up. So, tomorrow will be my final blog from this beautiful land. For now anyways.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

 

 
Today's Sunrise
 
 
These Are The Animals That Greeted Us This Morning
 





On Day 7 Stevie and I headed in to Portmagee to get on a boat with Joe Roddy and head over to the island of Skellig Michael. This is one of my 1000 places to see and also one of Ireland's UNESCO Heritage Sites. Skellig Michael is a large rock island. In the 6th century monks from a local church built 680 steps and a top those a monastery.

Portmagee


 
 

 

Yes that is right in order to get to the top I had to climb 680 steps. There were a few times I thought I  was not going to make it. I was sad and then God sent me Edwin who showed up at just the right moment and encouraged me to keep going as I only had 12 more steps. He told me he is an archeologist there and that the climb never gets any easier. He was like an angel! If he had not shown up I would not have continued and would have been so close. God was also with us as there was no rain, no fog, and the sea was calm for the first time all week. Amazing how that happens.

 
 

This is me and Edwin
 
 
The Steps...
 
 
And More Steps...
 
 
And More Steps....




The monastery sits atop the 680 steps and is thus 600 Ft above sea level. It had a garden, 6 beehive huts, a medieval church and a water drainage system.

 
The Monastery
 
 
Their Living Quarters (Beehive Huts)
 

More Beehive Huts


Notice We Are Smiling?
 


And Here Too?
 


 
And Even Here? It's  because We Made It To The Top!
 

Today the island is a nesting place for Puffins and we were there during the nesting season so they were all over.



After our visit to Skellig Michael,we visited Little Skellig which is a bird sanctuary for 60,000 birds before they migrate for Argentina or Africa.





The boys were again unsuccessful with fishing, but had fun.

We ended the day having fresh seafood in the sunroom while watching these guys!



And I thought maybe you would like to see our beautiful home!
 




Tomorrow we are all off to tour the Dingle Peninsula. Should be interesting!