Two words to describe my past almost-two-weeks in Ireland: GREAT CRAIC!! (as they say)
I feel so fortunate to have had two whole weeks hanging with my incredible relatives in this incredibly beauuuuuutiful (I can't say that enough times) country. It was so great to see familiar faces and be able to hang out with family. I felt like some kind of guest of honour with the way they all looked out for me and showed me around the beautiful sights of Ireland, I couldn't have asked for a better holiday really (excluding the part about my chest infection/cough which I will get into a bit later).
^that whole paragraph may seem like the cheesy cliché sort of stuff you're "supposed" to say, but I really and truly mean all of it.
SO! I arrived Friday the 21st late-ish into Dublin and my aunt Nuala and uncle Paul (my mom's siblings) were waiting at the gate to welcome me. It was so great to see them, it's been 3 years approximately since I saw Nuala and almost a year since Paul visited my fam back home in Canada. It's always a happy reunion. Not to mention that I was on a high after the customs officer gave me back my passport and said "Thank you Siobhan" with a P-E-R-F-E-C-T execution of the pronunciation and to top it all off in an Irish accent. I swear to god I got a physical jolt in that moment. I wouldn't even get addressed by my name in that kind of a situation back home in Canada, let alone France where my name is a completely foreign specimen altogether. Things started off wonderfully!
Saturday I got up and braved the cold-ish weather and tried a run despite my cough, then came home to a full on Irish fry for breakfast.. thank god I went running. Afterwards Paul took me for a walk on the pier and we headed into downtown Dublin for some exploring.
Casual lunch stop....
|HOG. ROLL. HOG ROLL.|
It was a super fun afternoon of exploring in which I found a soulmate of a leather jacket in one of the cool vintage stores in Temple Bar, Dublin. About 10 minutes after voicing my interest in trying to find myself one Paul and I discovered the alpha and omega of cool leather items (in my opinion). It was fate. Saturday ended with a mini reunion family dinner at my aunt Maire's house and I finished the day full of food and happy as a clam.
On Sunday I met with my dad's brother, my uncle David, so that I could go stay with him and his family a few days in the south in county Clare. Paul and I went for a quickie of a walk and then Paul dropped me at the Camogie game David was coaching near Dublin. Camogie is an Irish sport that's the female version of Hurling. It involves a wooden stick with a kind of wide, spade like bottom, and a heavy ball, with the only padding/protection being helmets. You can carry the ball and hit it with the stick and push and shove as much as you want (from what I could see). It was rough. They didn't just hit the ball, they WHACKED it, and they sometimes paid little attention to whether or not there was a hand holding the ball or not. Can't say I felt the urge to get into Camogie after watching the game, but I certainly held a lot of respect for the girls who were playing! When the game was over I hitched a ride with the team bus back to Shannon, and from there David drove me back to his house in Quin. The following two days were spent driving around Clare with David as he showed me the sights and we visited my dad's cousins (my second cousins..?). I loved meeting all the Barrys and also found it kind of hilarious as I heard the odd funny story about my old man and was able to pick up on traits here and there in the cousins that I know have been passed down into my family. In the words of my dad I found out "where the crazy comes from" Hilarous. Not to mention that I had enough delicious homemade scones, brown bread, and soup to last me the rest of the year. And let's not forget all the tea!!
|The town of Ennis in County Clare. This is where my Dad went to school!|
|David told me to hop on the town monuments to get a photo ha.|
|David told me him and my Dad would cross that bridge in the background more than a few times a day during a normal weekday.|
|I know I'm blurry but you get the idea. I'm sitting on Steele's Rock: see 4 photos down|
|Where my Dad went to school!|
|Standin' on tombs|
|Tomb I was standin' on|
|fancy a stroll?|
|The falls of Ennistymon!|
|hehehe more danger|
|up close and personal|
|a girl and her uncle!|
|This was not a safe venture but made an alright photo|
|Standing on Tomb #2|
|Facing those ocean winds head on|
I had a brilliant Clare experience. I left feeling like I had a better idea of where my Dad comes from which is pretty cool. On Wednesday David drove me to Galway where I was able to catch up a bit with his son, my cousin, (who's also called) David and is going to college there right now. After a bit of exploring we grabbed a bite to eat and uncle David saw me off. I was taking the bus from Galway to Sligo, then to Sligo to Derry to meet back up with Paul. In other words I was going south to north in one day, which ended up being about 5 and a half hours of bussing.
Met some interesting characters on the bus: one old and worn down looking woman came and sat next to me for an hour or two and started conversation. It came out pretty quick that I was a student from Canada who was visiting Irish family to which she said "Oh so you must be about 21 then!" I told her my actual age and she asked me to guess hers. Now... I thought she looked to be in her fifties at LEAST and in an effort to be overly polite and not embarrass myself or her I decided to guess lower than what I really thought. So I said somewhere in her forties. Her face changed to a look of utter surprise laced with a hint of horror as she said "But I'm only 39!!!" Oh god. *Siobhan mentally facepalms* Well I missed the boat on that friendly stranger guessing game. I then spent an awkward 5 minutes trying to fix my blunt mistake and mend her wounded pride. She said she'd always been told she had a young face and I politely nodded while managing an awkward and high pitched "yes! mmhmm, ohh...? yes? yes, wow!" All jokes aside she looked at least 51 I'm tellin' you.
The bus went from being full to bursting point when it left Galway to a lonely 4 or 5 of us remaining when we arrived in Derry Wednesday evening. Paul was there to meet me and then we drove back to his house in Culdaff (in County Donegal).
Throughout the whole trip I had kind of an annoying, pestering cough that was rooted deep in my chest, so unfortunately I hadn't been out running. Thorough googling told me that was the best option in order to get better faster, so I sucked it up and stuck to walking, which wasn't all that bad! Paul is over 6 ft. and walking to keep up with him is like half-jogging anyway so I didn't mind. His house is in Culdaff, like I mentioned, and it's the town/beach where my Mum's parents used to take her and her 6 siblings every summer for a week's vacation. It's only about a 8-10 minute drive outside their hometown of Carndonagh. I know Culdaff has a very special place in my mum's heart and she adores the beach there, so walking on it with Paul was very cool. And beautiful (DUH it's Ireland).
|Culdaff as the sun is setting! That land there is Malin Head|
My first few days weren't all that exciting because of a scholarship application I was kind of pre-occupied with for uni next year. It took up a lot of my time Thursday and Friday and aside from a few family dinners and walks with Paul I didn't get up to much. I actually stayed up until 7am Saturday MORNING in an effort to get it done by the deadline. In some kind of miraculous stroke of fate I got it all done, and also got to watch the sun rise beckoning the following day AS I was going to bed. That's what I like to call a healthy sleep schedule. But then it was done and is now out of my life THANK HEAVENS. On Sunday Paul took me to the Five Fingers (cool spot in Inishowen) for a lovely beach walk, and then we went to my uncle Jim's for a big lunch with Patrick, Eimear, Grainne, and Paul. After all the celebratory meals we had I sort of hit a breaking point of explosiveness. Great food EVERYWHERE!
On Monday Paul and I got up early and drove to Patrick's for a day touring County Antrim and some lovely sights out there. After about a one hour drive or so we passed through Portrush which is a lovely little town on the seaside. Patrick and Paul told me that when they were kids, my grandparents used to take them up to Portrush one day a year for some fun. There's a cool amusement park setup in Portrush but they didn't have it running when we passed through.
SPOTTED: My name. On a sign. In Portrush. I love Ireland.
First stop: Beauty viewpoint of Dunluce Castle!
|Paul, Siobhan, Patrick|
Second Stop: Dunluce Castle! (For real this time)
Third Stop: Giant's Causeway!!
This was pretty cool. We got a tour by an Irish guy named Neville who liked talking lots, and also got to hear firsthand the legend of the giant Fionn McCool and his wife Oonagh. I loved that because I remember having a kid's book back in my kiddie days that was all about Fionn, his giant adventures, and the Giant's Causeway. As nerdy as it sounds it was like seein' one of my favourite childhood stories come to life.
|Casual Giant stance|
|There be GIANTS|
|Looooook at the SIIIIIZE|
|Siobhan! Uncles! Tourists explorin'!|
Fourth Stop: Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge (minus the rope bridge part)
This involved a seaside walk along some majestic Irish cliffs that would normally end with a daredevil walk across a rather rickety rope bridge. Sadly (or perhaps we should say thankfully) the rope bridge was under some maintenance so I didn't get to cross it but the walk was super fun! Paul and I discovered the hilarious joy of skipping along paths and frightening fellow tourists.
Fifth Stop: Bushmills Whiskey Distillery
Got to see how the Irish perfect the whiskey making art. It was pretty cool actually I was pleasantly surprised, but sadly I wasn't allowed to take any photos, so the excitement ends there folks.
The next morning Paul and I got up fairly early to do some filming in the morning light. Paul is in the process of making a documentary on a book about the life and times of a cool old Irish guy named Charles McGlinchey and I was lucky enough to be around to help him get some shots! He showed me this insanely pretty walk through possibly fairy-inhabited trees and greenery up to an enchanted waterfall. I'm saying enchanted because you couldn't see it and not imagine it being the hidden gateway to like an elf dwelling or something.
|"IS THIS REAL?!"|
Then another beach!
|This dog was chillaxin' alone on the beach. He was adorable and super friendly and didn't have an owner in sight. You go doggy.|
Yesterday I got to hang out with my uncle Jim, who's my Mum's oldest brother. He's lived in Carndonagh almost his whole life and works as a vet on large animals. So he'd know Inishowen very well since he's not only had lots of exploring time, but would have driven all over in his jeep to visit farmers and their sickly animals. I got to see so much of the countryside yesterday, AND it was beautiful out.
|I have had my camera glued like that to my face for 2 weeks|
It has been a slice Inishowen. Tomorrow Paul and I will be heading out early to go back to Dublin. I'm France bound on Saturday and am sad that my holidays are coming to an end, but on the PLUS side.... in about 3 weeks I'll be back! And this time with my Mom and sister :)
Today was my last day up north, and unfortunately it wasn't the most exciting. Like I mentioned I've had this persistent chest cough. A week ago Paul took me to the local doc in Carndonagh who prescribed some antibiotics, but after no improvement we went back today. We ended up getting sent to Letterkenny hospital for a chest x-ray and all that medical shenanigan-type jazz. Bad news: I spent almost all of my last day in a hospital. Good news: I'm healthy! (Well almost healthy.. getting there, with the help of more antibiotics), and I got to see my uncle Laurence and auntie Eilish in Letterkenny for lunch on a wee hospital break. Also Paul and I were blasting great tunes on the drive to and from Letterkenny, and also shared some great laughs, so it was not bad at all.
The best part about leaving is being able to say that I'll be back soon! In total I'll be spending almost a month of my year in Ireland which is more than I ever have in my life and THAT is cool.
So that's my Irish adventure. To be continued...