Sep 22, 2011

Cliffs of Moher
Kells Priory
Ireland is everything I imagined and more.  The landscape boasts of rolling hills, green fields, and rocky cliffs, and we have been greeted only by the friendliest of folks.  For nine days, we traveled from one coastline to the next, covering hundreds of miles of beautiful scenery.  The lush, green countryside is actually not all that different from Oregon's Willamette Valley.  The grazing livestock in open fields is a familiar sight.  What sets the two places apart is the ancient Irish stonework that dots the land.  The stone ruins from ages past is a reminder of Ireland's longstanding history.  

We explored a number of towns in Ireland, from the urban scene of Dublin to the tiny coastal town of Doolin.  Big or small, the towns in Ireland are full of charm.  The streets are lined in cobblestone, waterways cut through the center of town, and the pub night scene is full of cheer [and beer!].

The first half of our trip was spent in the lovely town of Galway, located on the western coast of Ireland.  Our dear friend was marrying a local Irishman, and both my husband and I were part of the wedding ceremony.  

St. Nicholas in Galway

The ceremony was held in a medieval church built 700 years ago.  The groomsmen were dressed in tails and many of the ladies in attendance donned hats.  I asked to be called Pippa for the day.   

A wedding is a wonderful and intimate way to experience a culture, and I’m thankful that I was a part of such a special celebration.  The ceremony started at one in the afternoon, but Irish weddings continue through the wee hours of the morning.  I managed to stay up for the fish and chips served at midnight.  Nothing like eating fried food in the middle of the night in a fitted bridesmaid dress and heels!

A trip to Ireland wouldn't be complete without a traditional Irish breakfast.  Park of our b/b experience in Doolin
For two days of our trip, we stayed in a modern cabin referred to as a hermitage.  It is perched on a remote hillside, along with two other hermitages, overlooking the beautiful grounds of the Glencomeragh House.  It was the perfect home base as we traveled to nearby towns.  

The hermitages are outfitted with kitchenettes, so we dined in for a few meals.  With yummy cheese, salami, tomato, and baguette, it was as if we were on an extended picnic date.   

Below the hermitages, at the base of the hill, is a labyrinth.  A labyrinth is a circular path that you walk during meditation and prayer.  You start at one end of the path, and it eventually leads you to the center of the circle.  Posted next to the labyrinth is this stirring excerpt from Thomas Merton's Thoughts in solitude. 

My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. 
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
And the fact that I think I am following your will
Does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
Does in fact please you.
And I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
Though I may know nothing about it. 
Therefore, I will trust you always
Though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will fear not, for you are with me,
And you will never leave me to face my perils alone.

[all images by me]

Being back in Portland not even a day, our trip to Ireland already feels like a dream.  It was truly a magical time, and we eagerly look forward to returning to the Emerald Isle.

. . . next time, I'll remember to bring a waterproof windbreaker.


HomeCollection. said...

i'm really thinking about having a trip in ireland in the future.
and your pictures confirm me this idea!

Melissa said...

It looks like you enjoyed your stay! I lived in Ireland for 3 years and I agree, it is quite magical.

Those hermitages look amazing. I'll be looking into those for our next trip!

L. KIM said...

Hi Cathy. I discovered your blog through Etsy not too long ago and have been enjoying your blog and your work (hope to own a piece soon!). I love your Ireland pics (the first one blew me away), and was encouraged by the Thomas Merton quote/labyrinth pic. Thanks for sharing!

Charissa said...

So happy for you. The photos are beautiful! And I agree about the Thomas Merton quote. Some deep thoughts there.

Anonymous said...

Oh my good.ness! We need to talk! I can't believe the time flew by so fast! The pictures are beautiful. Did you know I keep that Thomas Merton quote on my fridge? It was one of my dad's favorites.

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