In 1996 my daughter, Marie, and I flew to Ireland and joined a bus tour for an exciting 10 days of adventure and learning.
It is a long night. After being up all day and now when I'd love to sleep, the noise in the plane is just too much. I do doze some and once I open my eyes to see the sun rising over the horizon. It looks so different with us being at that altitude and is a sight I'll never forget.
I always thought most of my ancestors had come from Ireland. I love so much about the Irish culture. But my DNA test came back saying I was mostly English. Oh well. There's a drop or two of Irish blood in me. I am sure of it.
After a very brief rest at the nearby hotel, John, our amazing tour guide/bus driver, loads us up on that big bus and takes us to Bunratty Folk Park. Here is our group of travelers. Marie and I are right in the center of the photo. That's a bunch of us, isn't it?
Once we arrive at the Park we wander around the grounds waiting for time to gather for the Ceili. There were old thatch-roofed houses to explore showing you what living in Ireland in the mid 1800s must have been like.
We take pictures on the Bunratty Castle grounds but we didn't go inside. It's our first glimpse of one of the hundreds of castles in Ireland (maybe thousands, I didn't count them). This one was built in 1425. That just blows my mind...
I am surprised to see a bride and groom coming down the path having a wedding photo shoot. What a place to have a wedding!
Then it was time for the Ceili. We all troop into a large room set up with long wooden tables and benches. As soon as we are seated, servers start at the end of each table with large bowls nestled in their arms and lift spoonfuls of yummy Irish fare onto our plates and bowls. We have our picture taken with our server.
As we eat, we are entertained by a variety of musicians, all dressed in Irish costumes, playing the fiddle, the flute, the bagpipe and the bhadran, a flat drum held in the hand. (picture from the internet of a rhadran and a fiddle below).
There are pretty Irish lasses dancing jigs and singing songs and you can't help getting into the Irish spirit. It didn't hurt one bit, either, that we have wine with our meal. (grin)
Worn out after such wonderful food, music and being on serious jet-lag still, we are happy to arrive at our bed and breakfast, Brookfield, in the town of Killarney.
Hannah, our hostess, greets us at the door. She is jolly and such fun. Just like I think Irish are. Parts of our group are deposited at various places to sleep as we travel the countryside. No place big enough for us all in one location until we arrive in Dublin.
Brookfield is sitting on a little hill. Across the road are mass graves, victims of the potato famine. Such a tragic time for Ireland, that potato famine was! Next morning, I miss Marie and find her standing amidst the tombs and weeds paying her respects to those gone on.
We climb back on the bus and head to the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare.
(check back for more tales of our Irish adventure)