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....
Now, for the good stuff!
The Abbey of Kells & The Hill of Tara
Ardmore, Co. Waterford & St. Declán's Way Walk
Kilbrittain / Timoleague / Court Macsherry / Conakilty / Kinsale, Co. Cork
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!