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Autumnal Splendour

2 Oct

Seasons of mist… oh wait, it’s been sunny almost all week. 😀

I thought it was supposed to be autumn? Either way, I’m awfully glad we’ve been enjoying this Indian Summer.

It’s perfect for a photography trip.

>Exploring the Irish Countryside

5 Feb

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                                              The picturesque village of Cobh

Last week we travelled around Ireland in celebration of my 25th birthday. My aunt and uncle flew in from Holland especially with a travel guide in hand. We started our journey in Dublin on my birthday, the 28th and explored Temple Bar where we tasted the local pub culture and enjoyed some merry live music. Had I had the proper training, I would’ve donned Irish dancing shoes for the occasion (but I refused, despite constant entreaties). We seated ourselves in The Temple Bar, possibly the most famous pub in Dublin and a true tourist attraction with its happy red exterior.

Temple Bar

After our pub adventure, we ventured to Trinity College to learn more about the Book of Kells. Many ancient manuscripts and books were on display and the notion that they were written by hand, taking up years to complete, is something we could hardly wrap our head around. Nevertheless, they looked beautiful and the calligraphy was used very effectively. When viewing such treasures, ones own handwriting always seems impossibly illegible. The real reason that had brought us to Trinity College was their impressive library – the largest in the country. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to take photographs but they had some brochures available. Next, we paid a visit to the National Library, where student and professor alike can read the many books available (in silence). The building itself was most elegant.
 

The National Library

There happened to be a Yeats exhibition at the national library so we decided to take a quick look and were consequently immersed into his life with pictures, fragments of poetry and a documentary about his life and women. My aunt swooned over his bespectacled face while I swooned over his writing desk with built-in bookshelves. I had a bit of a fright when I noticed his date of death: Janaruy 28th. Yep. Today. My birthday. We ended the day with home-made banana/bacon pancakes which is a bit of a family speciality.
For Saturday we set off early in our rental car so we’d reach Cork relatively early. We told our TomTom to avoid the motorways so we could take in the Irish countryside, which was in turns cloudy and sunny but always fairly agreeable. We were lucky in that we suffered no rain during our travels and despite its being in the middle of winter it was never particularly cold. Thank the leprechauns! At any rate, back on the road! We saw some lovely scenery, nice green hues; fields, trees and plants. It felt as though spring were just around the corner, a happy thought! We made a quick stop at the Rock of Cashel, a ruin of sorts with a very impressive cemetery in its backyard. There were an abundance of Celtic crosses and black crows swooping in and out of our picture frames.



The ruin also came with a stunning view over the Irish countryside as you can see in the last picture. We returned to the road and journeyed on to the village of Cobh, one of the prettiest places I’d seen in ages. It had a very fine church with rows of multi-coloured villas nestled in front of it. Our camera flashed unrelentingly at the colourful local inhabitants while we struggled up and down the steep street and imagined living here. One of many delights of Cobh is the fact that it is situated near the shore. It has a history. Cobh is home to The Harbour of Tears, a place from which immigrants were dispatched to the Americas many years ago.

                            

                                           A monument dedicated to the first immigrant of Ireland

We wind promptly swept us into a lovely little restaurant with a view over the harbour. Come summer, it would be filled to the brim with tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of a large cruise ship passing by. Although there were no ships in sight, we tucked in some delicious salmon sandwiches and I rewarded myself with a very well-made sticky toffee pudding. By the time we finished our lunch, it was too late to continue on to Cork and my aunt admitted Cobh had been our destination all along. So we made our way back to Dublin, watching the sun sink below the horizon. We slept very soundly that night and with great satisfaction.

On Sunday we stayed closer to home and drove into the Wicklow Mountains, a very popular tourist destination where nature reigns supreme. Only an hour’s drive from Dublin (unless you choose the scenic route), it is an ideal weekend trip with fabulous scenery and stormy weather as befitting such surroundings. Although we initially got lost and ended up in Hollywood, we reached the mountains around noon and admired the high hill tops and greenery.


We made a pit stop and enjoyed a leisurely walk in the mountains. All was quiet and peaceful as we climbed to the top and, arriving completely windswept, peered over the landscape like a bird from his nest. It was quite a view and for a moment, I felt like Cathy from Wuthering Heights, walking along the Yorkshire Moors. It had that same character and ruggedness about it.

Our last stop on our little trip was Glendalough, where we could see a medieval monastery and Rapunzel-style tower. At this time the temperatures started to drop and we beheld a bagpipe player hugging himself to keep warm. The kilt didn’t supply much warmth. The monastery was very basic and small and I shivered as I tried to imagine how poorly-isolated it must’ve been during wintertime.

Glendalough served us up another pretty cemetery and after a nice meal at a local pub we headed home for a cup of hot coacoa and chatted about all the things we’d seen and done in the last few days. Ireland is a beautiful country but you have to get out of Dublin to see it.