Thursday, August 3, 2017
Ireland (Part 1)
After taking 10 years to travel through all of the United States, visit each of the state capitols, attend a baseball game in almost all of the Major League Baseball Parks, and visit many of the National Parks, Dan and I finally took the opportunity this year to travel to Europe. My daughter was putting together a trip to Ireland for herself, her fiancé, his mother, and her friend and asked us if we wanted to join them. The timing was great for us, so we jumped on board. That’s how we ended up spending a week in June 2017 touring Dublin, Cork, Killarney, and Galway. We visited castles and cathedrals, parks and pubs, universities and breweries; we hiked in manicured gardens, along rugged coastlines, and in a National Park. Though not nearly enough time to get a thorough exploration of the people and the places, we were lucky enough to hear local bands play traditional Irish music, get a flavor of the culinary style, and chat with many of the local residents.
Ireland is definitely green, and has rightly earned the nickname of Emerald Isle. Of course all that lush green countryside is a result of plentiful rain, and we did have a couple of days of light misty rainfall. This didn’t bother me in the least, and I found the cooler temperatures quite comfortable.
Ireland is not by nature a vegan friendly environment, and posed a bit of a challenge for us. Typical and traditional Irish foods include stews (beef or lamb); Shepherd’s pie (beef or lamb – and they raise a lot of sheep and cattle here!); fish (makes sense, it’s an island). But, with a little creativity we were able to stick to our plant based diet, while still sampling some of the local fare. Baked beans were common at breakfast, and Irish soda bread was served nearly at every meal. Porridge (oatmeal) was also on every breakfast menu. We even found one vegan restaurant in Killarney, which was like a breath of fresh air!
Although Ireland is an English speaking country, there are two official languages here: English and Gaelic (which is also known as Irish). All native Irish can speak English, but Gaelic is also growing in popularity. There is a strong national movement to preserve and expand the language. Everywhere we went all the road signs and other official signs were in both languages. Some of the television news stations also broadcast in Gaelic.
Of course we took lots and lots of pictures, and way too many for one (or two or three or four…) blog postings. I’ve whittled them down to those I can squeeze into two posts, and here in Part 1 I have included pictures from Dublin, Cork, and the Blarney Castle. Be sure to look for the picture of Dan kissing the Blarney Stone!