A visit to old Ireland

shamrock1This morning I spent a few pleasant minutes watching Samantha Brown on The Travel Channel, as she visited Ireland.  Of course they are re-running these programs in honor of upcoming St. Patrick’s Day – which I have heard is a MUCH bigger deal here in the USA than it is in Ireland.  I don’t really understand why, but I’ve always been fascinated with all things Irish.  Well, maybe not all things, but the country, it’s heritage, the people, and probably most of all – the music.  I LOVE Irish music!  Particularly traditional music played with traditional instruments.   In 2004, we were so fortunate to be able to make a trip to England and Ireland.  Since this was before I started blogging, it won’t be a repeat for me to post a few pictures from that very memorable trip.   We rented (“hired” as they say) a car upon arriving at the Shannon airport, and made our way to the scenic Dingle Peninsula.  Thank heavens hubby had experience at driving on the “wrong” side of the road!   So, onward with a few pictures.

Homes and farmland on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula

Homes and farmland on the beautiful Dingle Peninsula

This is where a great old movie  Ryan’s Daughter was filmed (1970).  I loved that movie! 

Sheep being herded down the main "highway" around Dingle Peninsula

Sheep being herded down the main "highway" around Dingle Peninsula

It was almost out of a movie… we encountered these sheep being herded from one pasture to another.  Obviously this shot was taken from our car.  It also intrigued  me as to why each sheep was painted.  Never did find out why. 

Market day in Kenmare

Market day in Kenmare

Another scene out of a book or a movie!  Here it was, 2004, and the farmers still bring their sheep into town on market day, looking for a buyer. 

Peat.  Cut and drying, waiting to be placed on a fire.

Peat. Cut and drying, waiting to be placed on a fire.

Another thing that I was captivated with was peat.  I have read lots of books that describe the cutting and drying, as well as the heating with/burning of peat.  To see it in person was so cool.  Or warm.  (bad pun)   Next shot is of the peat fire, actually burning.

Peat fire burning at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Peat fire burning at Bunratty Castle and Folk Park

Yep, it was nice and warm in there.  What I think may be even more amazing is that I think there are places in Ireland where the burning of the peat continues to this day.     

The last photo shows a meal I had at an Irish pub one evening.  Guess I was hungry for “home” as I ordered their version of a burger.  Check it out….

The Irish "burger and chips" meal.  No surprise, I was unable to finish this!

The Irish "burger and chips" meal. No surprise, I was unable to finish this!

It was so shockingly huge that I had to snap a photo of it!   Note the partially consumed Guinness in the background.  It’s just not right to get an Irish pub meal without a Guinness! 🙂

I would LOVE to go back to Ireland someday.  We never did get to explore Dublin and I’m certain there is a lot there to explore!  We tried like crazy, every evening to find a pub with a live band who also had a fiddler (there’s just something about an Irish fiddle), but had no luck with that.  Funny thing, a few years later when we made our trek to New York City, we stumbled upon an Irish pub there, with plenty of musicians (and several fiddles!) playing in a traditional Irish seisun.  They still do it every Monday evening at the Landmark Tavern.  The folks there were SO nice, even gave us some complimentary Irish Soda Bread!  Gotta love NYC! 

So, on March 17th I’ll be right here at home, boiling the corned beef, cooking the cabbage, baking the soda bread, and chilling the Guinness – with Celtic Woman and The High Kings singing in the background.  Sounds like fun!

Celtic Woman in the snow

For the longest time I had been looking forward to the Celtic Woman concert in Seattle – and last night was finally the night!  I think I have mentioned a time or two how much I enjoy Celtic (Irish) music.  When I hear it, it GRABS me and I honestly don’t know why.  Maybe there’s a drop or two of Irish blood in me, I’m really not sure – but OH HOW I love that music!  The concert was all I had hoped for and MORE!  What a fantastic surprise to find out that the “warm up” group for the Celtic gals was – The High Kings!  Woo HOO!  I recently discovered the High Kings – who are a new, all-male group of Irish singers, produced by the same people who put together Celtic Woman.  After listening to some of their stuff online (please click here to watch/listen), I downloaded their brand new CD and have been enjoying it for several weeks. 

After they performed, Celtic Woman did their thing for about 2 1/2 hours!  It was fantastic!  My only advice to them would be to sing more Irish songs and less American ones!  But then, that’s just my personal preference.  I’m particularly fond of the Irish fiddle and getting to see Mairead Nesbitt play that thing in person was such a thrill!!!!This girl is ultra-talented!  All in all, it was an enchanting evening! 

Getting home was another matter.  We drove through some of the most HORRIBLE blinding snow (what’s going on? SNOW in mid-APRIL??) I’ve ever encountered.  Thank God we chose to drive the 4-wheel-drive vehicle.  We have had a very nasty winter and the freak snowstorm yesterday just capped it off.  It’s still snowing today, but very lightly and it’s NOT sticking.  I am SO ready for summer that I can’t put it into words.  Seriously.