Ireland

We will begin in Dublin and then explore the northern part of Ireland: Donegal, the Giant's Causeway, etc. Call or email to get on the mailing list!

Horse and cart in front of Muckross House

Magical Ireland
Here we are at Muckross House in Killarney National Park for our first trip to Ireland. We had balmy weather and stayed in a house right out of decorator showcase, situated five minutes outside the village of Kenmare in Kerry with fabulous views of the river and hills. Mix in great company, delicious food and the warmth of Irish people…and that's just bare bones of it. The famous Ring of Kerry, Beara Peninsula, Newgrange, Rock of Cashel, and Hill of Tara, these we had to see, but it was serendipity that moved us to hike into fields with stone circles and write a poem, to wade through river shallows and offer tokens in exchange for favors at a holy well, to bath an arthritic knee in water said to cure, to stumble upon an old grave marker reminding us of all who died in the 'Terrible Years of the Famine.'

We went in search of Sheela na gig, an ancient image of the great earth mother. We found her by standing on a stone windowsill in a relic of a church, directed there by the caretaker who happened upon us searching in vain all through the churchyard. "Reach through and up," he said, and we each felt the imprint of the Sheela on the outer wall and rubbed her, as directed, for good luck. With characteristic Irish wit, the caretaker, Daniel Dineen, told us that many women who do this find themselves in a family way soon afterward! There was little chance for that in our little group, but the delight in this trip seemed to take away the years, so even before we left Ireland, we were planning our return.

SW Ireland landscape

Magical Ireland II
Our next trip began in Dublin during Heritage Week. We stayed at Trinity College in the heart of the city and took advantage of the on/off bus to explore the offerings of this special week, seeing the old and the new in the city for the first two days. Then we were off to our home away from home in Galway County. Here we trekked up the coast, through the rugged beauty of Connemara, photographing the famous Connemara ponies along the way. Then onto to the vastly different County Mayo, where we had lunch in tiny Leenane, the setting for the play, The Beauty Queen of Leenane, which I had seen at the Wellfleet theatre with Julie Harris. We were enamored with the gardens and castle of Kylemore Abbey, and the charming town of Westport, stopping to pay homage to the Famine monument and ship. In Sligo we toured Carrowmore Megalithic Cemetery, an archeological site still being explored. And of course we had to make the hike up to Queen Maeve's grave, where we placed the requisite stone on her cairn to honor her. Once again, we were entranced by the serendipity and the magic of Ireland and knew we would be back.

Ireland landscape

Magical Ireland III
Again, the village of Kenmare, which offers much to see, eat, and buy, was our base. The Heritage Center provides information and a wonderful history of the town and people of the area. It also holds the fabulous Lace Museum, chronicling all those tablecloths and doilies we grew up with. A tour of the town brings us to Our Lady's Well, the Druid's Circle, our favorite teashop and bookstore.

We meandered along the Ring of Kerry and the even more beautiful Beara Peninsula, discovering this stone circle and the waterfalls at Inchaquin. A day trip to Cork brought us to the Queenstown museum in Cobh, a tribute to the more than 2.5 million people forced to leave Ireland in the famine years of the mid-1800s. Since Ireland is water, water everywhere, we took the slow boat up the Kenmare River and were regaled with the witticisms of the Captain and Irish music by his young crewman, 11 years old! Another day a local ferry brought us to the fabulous gardens on Garnish Island, past rock islands of seals sunning themselves. We drove onto Mizen Head Visitor's Center, the most southerly point in Ireland, a fabulous spot for startling views, birds, and sea life if it is clear. It also holds a quaint little museum depicting a lighthouse keeper's life. Lots to see and do and we are not finished with Ireland yet. Once you visit, it continues to call.

Questions? call Mary Ann at 508 904-5843 or email majcape@hotmail.com