Ireland, week 1

Before one word, may I say two?  THANK YOU to our kids and to all those who contributed to this 25th Wedding Anniversary / Sabbatical trip.  We are forever grateful.

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, oh my goodness.  I have almost run out of exclamations for this dream come true.  Ireland is obscene with beauty - and we've only been to one small portion, so far.  Each day is a complete joy, and at the end of the day I feel like I could leave then and be completely content.  The fact that we get to stay another day and another day and another for four whole weeks is almost more than my heart can bear.

We completed week one on Thursday, June 23.  I don't know how to tell you about it without an obnoxious number of photos. First, a couple of stories about our journey from JFK to Dublin (which, if you're following along at home, was preceded by a journey from Austin, TX to Fairfield, CT with a few day stop-over in Johnson City, NY and one pure delight of a dinner & dessert with friends in Manhattan).  

THE FLIGHT THAT INCLUDED A MEDICAL EMERGENCY (not ours, thankfully)

It was supposed to be a simple six-hour direct flight from JFK to Dublin.  It turned into a 13-hour journey with a layover at the Shannon airport on the west coast of Ireland.  Approximately four hours into our flight, Brian was awoken by a loud thud when a gentleman two rows in front of us collapsed on the floor.  A moment later a flight attendant turned all the lights on and made a frantic announcement for any medical professionals on board to offer assistance.  Oddly (and, gosh, it's bugging me even now that I was not able to get the story) there were about 6 people -- including one physician who was sitting across the aisle from the man who collapsed.  

For the next two hours we watched these 6 professionals and the excellent flight crew attend to the man - digging through first aid kits for oxygen, blood pressure apparatus and IV bags of glucose.  They were not able to determine exactly what was wrong with the man as he experienced multiple seizures and went in and out of consciousness.  The pilot was in touch with an MD on the ground and sent vital statistics frequently  Since we were over the Atlantic ocean, the first stop we could make was Shannon airport.  So for 2 hours we sat and watched them administer care to the gentleman.  It was frightening, to say the least.  

In a frustrating scenario, we were not allowed to leave Shannon until the oxygen tanks and first aid instruments were restocked which required us to wait about 4 hours to make the 25 minute flight to Dublin.  Thankfully, we were allowed to leave the aircraft to get some breakfast (our first "full Irish") and stretch our legs.  We were grateful to learn the gentleman had made it to a hospital and was, apparently, going to be OK, but the pilots confirmed that it had been a life-threatening situation.  As aggravating as it was to be detained, the passengers were extremely good-natured, erupting in a loud cheer when a man in an orange Lufthansa vest delivered the much-discussed oxygen tank (that I'm convinced someone DROVE to Dublin to obtain, otherwise what accounts for the FOUR hour wait?!?).

OK - silly, that I'm taking up all this time to tell you that story when we've almost forgotten the entire incident.  We had one other unfortunate adventure about an hour later, involving our passenger-side mirror and a very narrow village lane.  For the most part, Brian has excelled in driving on the opposite side of the road while managing a manual shift with his left hand - and now, one less mirror to tell what's coming behind us.  Thank God for insurance, that the mirror we hit was only scratched a teensy-tiny bit, and that the owner of the other car was a large, jolly Irish man who ended up giving Brian a hug and consoling him.  Phew....

 photo one: just before take-off from JFK, exhausted from packing up our house in ATX, driving across the country, and seeing our kids off to several corners of the world  photo two: truly, truly exhausted while detained on an airplane for hours

photo one: just before take-off from JFK, exhausted from packing up our house in ATX, driving across the country, and seeing our kids off to several corners of the world

photo two: truly, truly exhausted while detained on an airplane for hours

 top: some cheery driving encouragement from our rental co.; bottom: our passenger-side mirror about 1 hour after getting our car.  We had been disheartened about the cost of insurance - until this exact moment.

top: some cheery driving encouragement from our rental co.; bottom: our passenger-side mirror about 1 hour after getting our car.  We had been disheartened about the cost of insurance - until this exact moment.

Now, for the good stuff!

TRIM, CO. MEATH

 A back-door view of Trim on the river boyne, Co. Meath

A back-door view of Trim on the river boyne, Co. Meath

 
 

The Abbey of Kells & The Hill of Tara 

 our companions on the hill of tara, co. meath

our companions on the hill of tara, co. meath

 
 

Ardmore, Co. Waterford & St. Declán's Way Walk

 smoked salmon & eggs on toast with fresh squeezed orange juice, cliff house hotel, ardmore, co. waterford (our one night luxury hotel splurge)

smoked salmon & eggs on toast with fresh squeezed orange juice, cliff house hotel, ardmore, co. waterford (our one night luxury hotel splurge)

 
 
 St. declan's baptismal well and hermitage. he may have preceded Patrick in introducing christianity to the island.

St. declan's baptismal well and hermitage. he may have preceded Patrick in introducing christianity to the island.

 
 
 

Cliff House Hotel, Ardmore (Co. Waterford) (our one night luxury hotel splurge!)

St. Declan's Well & Oratory


Kilbrittain / Timoleague / Court Macsherry / Conakilty / Kinsale, Co. Cork

 our backyard view in kilbrittain airbnb

our backyard view in kilbrittain airbnb

 
 
 afternoon tea on the inchydony island beach (better hot tea than cold swim!)

afternoon tea on the inchydony island beach (better hot tea than cold swim!)

 
 
 Ballad song night at Charlie Madden's pub, timoleauge

Ballad song night at Charlie Madden's pub, timoleauge

 
 

Kilbrittain

Timoleague / Monk's Lane / Charlie Madden's Bar / Timoleague Abbey

Court Macsherry

Clonakilty / Richy's Bar & Bistro / Inchydoney Island beach

Kinsale / Fishy Fishy Cafe

Of all the beautiful things we've seen - the planned and unplanned, we haven't had a moment more heavenly than stumbling on this multigenerational group playing in a pub in Timoleague.  It wasn't long before they welcomed us to sing along.  

It's been harder than I anticipated to get wi-fi, but I'll try to update again after our second week is completed. We'll be in Wales, Dingle, Galway and Inismore!