The definition of GREEN is listed as; a color, someone inexperienced, jealous, or sick. A slang term for money, environmentally friendly, etc. Follow my most recent trip, I am considering petitioning the dictionary definers to simplify the explanation with a single, all encompassing, word… IRELAND. I recently returned from my 4th visit to the Emerald Isle, more enamored with the land and filled with love for its inhabitants than ever before.
I landed at Shannon airport and enjoyed the scenic drive to Cork, in south west Ireland. The rolling hills showcased every shade of green from lime to fern, Kelly to shamrock, Army, asparagus, emerald, sea, pea and clover were all in bountiful representation. The green was dotted with sheep, horses, and the occasional homestead. The two hour drive went by quickly and after checking on my patient, we finally pulled into the grounds of the Hayfield Manor, in Cork. I was greeted by a smiling gentleman in a top hat and tails who expeditiously escorted me to a rich leather high-back chair to be check-in for my stay. The entry was home to a grand, rich, mahogany, staircase, quaint parlor and a view of the perfectly manicured garden out back. Once the formality of the check-in process was completed, I was taken up to my room which was no less than 300 sq feet of pure indulgence, and a golf putter to work on my technique! Needless to say, I slept well that night.
The following day, I took care of additional patient related duties and secured a driver to take me back to County Clare, in search of my family homestead. I had to first stop at the Blarney Castle to stroll across the grounds, climb up the winding stairs of the castle, lie on my back, hang my head over the edge, grab the railing, and kiss the famous Blarney stone! I am officially “certified” to grow old with the gift of eloquence, which, I’m certain, will come in handy!
A few notes on the Blarney Castle and gardens. It is quite peaceful and scenic to walk through the grounds. The River Martin winds through it and, as Richey, my chauffeur for the day, pointed out, “When people see water, they think they need to throw money in it!” Quite a funny commentary and observation on society, which made me, laugh out loud. On his note, I opted to keep my coins in my purse and save them for the official stone kissing photo and certificate of eloquence, another 10 euro, on the exiting side! (A worthwhile keepsake in my opinion.)
Please note that the castle is an authentic, OLD Irish castle, built in the 15th century. The castle is a 10 minute stroll from the entrance along the banks of the River Martin. The famous stone is at the top of the castle, so be prepared to climb the 100, UNEVEN, NARROW, SPIRAL, steps to kiss it. The view from the top is magnificent, and well worth it, but I can’t help but caution those with weak knees and wide waists to skip this popular tourist destination and opt for a view from the gardens instead.
From there, we set out to Lisdeen, Kilkee, County Clare and the M Keane Oyster Bar & Restaurant. It is located on the Kilrush-Kilkee roan N67, and it’s a must see. Admittedly, I have never been “blown away” with the flavors of my many Irish meals, until Michael Keene cooked for me! We feasted on the freshest oysters I have ever tasted, Red Emperor and John Dougherty (fish) fresh vegetables, and naturally, potatoes. Each bite, more delicious than the last and a MUST VISIT, 5 star recommendation for this authentic, Irish pub experience.
Lisdeen is a small fishing village located on the shores of the Irish Sea. Scenic and tranquil, the sands of the small bay were filled with beautiful shells and hearty swimmers in wet suites. At a sea side stand, they were selling two local delicacies, which I opted NOT to indulge in. WINKLES (sea snails) and DILLISK (sea weed), although fun to pronounce, were less than appetizing to look at, thus, I opted out of this gastronomic adventure.
After spending a lovely afternoon walking the grounds of my family homestead and hearing stories of old, Richie and I headed back towards Cork. We took the Ferry to County Kerry and talked the entire two hours to our destination. Richie was an incredible wealth of information about the counties (equal to our states) and the history of Ireland. A noteworthy story I must share, is that of the town of Dingle. Poor Dingle has been essentially, wiped off the map. A former minister (equal to our Mayor or elected official) had the “ingenious” idea to change all the signs and maps from the English name of Dingle to the Irish name of “An Daingean”. Tourist and Irish alike were constantly stopping to ask, where had Dingle gone? The towns’ people, recognizing the error of the Minister, petitioned to have Dingle listed on the signs and maps once again. The Minister, in his divine wisdom, was adamant about leaving just the Irish name on the signs, so, each night, the townsmen would go out and spray-paint, or stencil DINGLE on the signs. Each morning, the Minister would order DINGLE to be removed, and thus, the “dance” of determination began and continues to this day! You can still find signs with DINGLE stenciled under An Daigean” and even a few signs hung a good 20 feet above the street in order to detour the townsmen of their mid-night mischief!
There is not a day that passes which I don’t recognize the incredible fortune I have in my life and job. This trip to Ireland was booked as a patient transport, which concluded not only in that, but also with the opportunity to visit family and ultimately, a check off a bucket list item. Slainte’!