You're Very Welcome

“You’re Very Welcome.” This is how the Irish greet you as they open their front door and lead you into their home. They offer to bring you a cup of hot tea and fresh-baked ginger cookies and ask about your travels, your homeland, and how you like their country. They are very proud of this country of theirs, and with good reason. No where else on earth will you find greener pastures, fresher air, and friendlier people.

My friend Val and I traveled to Ireland last month and toured much of the southern part of the island, driving from Dublin on the east coast to just outside of Galway on the west coast. We saw the wooded slopes of the Wicklow Mountains, the Medieval town of Kilkenny, the Rock of Cashel - a centuries old fortress of Irish kings, the stunningly beautiful Killarney National Park, dramatic cliffs along the Dingle Peninsula and the famous Cliffs of Moher, the haunting Connemara with her valleys and loughs, “millionaire row” Howth, with gorgeous houses overlooking the harbor, and busy Dublin, a mix of modern and ancient all rolled into one. By logging nearly 1,000 miles in our trusty Euro-car, we learned how to drive on the left side of the road and became intimately familiar with how scary those tiny, blind-corner Irish roads really are (there’s a reason why tourists often bring back their rentals with missing side mirrors). Despite close calls with a bus, a sheep, a stone wall, and a few parked cars, we were happy with our decision to drive off the beaten path and experience all Ireland had to offer.

My recurring exclamation for the trip was: “It’s so adorable, and just so IRISH!” From tiny villages to stone cottages and rolling hills to locals with their rousing drinking songs, Ireland fulfilled all of my expectations and more. We chased sheep down the road and waited for cows to move out of our way. We hung out at pubs and listened to traditional music and ordered fish and chips. We shook off wet raincoats and pulled off our boots and drank hot tea by the fire. We ate homemade apple tarts and Sunday cake (bunt cake) and Irish soda bread dipped in chowder. We watched a rancher round up his sheep with dogs trained to respond to his calls and whistles. We stepped back in time by sleeping in a centuries-old manor house, the smell of wood-fired smoke drifting in the air to give it that truly authentic feel. We passed schools where Irish (called Gaelic by the non-Irish) is the main spoken language. We walked down the aisle of a thousand-year-old church and through Medieval cemeteries adorned with Celtic crosses. We got lost, took back roads, hiked on cliffs, petted sheep, stayed in a thatched cottage, talked with fishermen, ate traditional Irish breakfast, crossed the Shannon River in a ferry, marveled at the florescent green fields, and met some lovely people, both of the Irish and tourist variety. The experience was beyond anything I ever imagined, and just so “Irish.”

Thank you, Ireland, for making me feel very, very welcome.

I handed my camera over to Val and gave her a crash course in portrait photography - pretty impressive for a first-timer, don't you think?


Donna Harris July 13, 2011 at 9:38 PM  

Amazing. I can't even take it all in. I'm gonna go back and look at each photo once again because there's so much that you saw, did, and experienced.
Beautiful Photography!

Elisha Pape July 14, 2011 at 8:09 PM  

Gorgeous Photos! I kept thinking "oh that is my favorite" then I would scroll down and find a new favorite-they all are awesome!

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