Sunday, April 17, 2005

I Don't See Any Ire...

I return safely from yet another adventurous venture beyond Britain’s borders, flanked once again by the obligatory twelve hours of travel on each end (taxi-coach-coach-plane-bus-taxi and back again). This time, the destination was Ireland, where I stayed in a cottage eight miles outside of Dublin with Ben, Toby, Clare, Sofia, and Jess (three flatmates and two virtual-flatmates). It was my first-ever and much-anticipated journey to the Emerald Island, and it was everything I ever imagined it would be.

The cottage was delightfully isolated on a grassy, sheep-inhabited hillside over a mile from the nearest bus stop, a fact I deeply appreciated despite the difficulties it caused when we wanted to do things like explore Dublin or buy groceries. But we managed, and were much the fitter for it by the end of the week. About a quarter mile from the cottage was a trailhead leading out onto Tibradden Mountain and a rocky trail to explore Ireland’s wilderness. Supposedly, this trail led to a megalithic tomb named Fairy Castle, which, as you can imagine if you have any familiarity with my fascination with mythical creatures and really old rocks, I went out seeking immediately and eagerly. But alas, the fairies had hidden their secrets too well, and I never did manage to find it.

Ben lent me the Harry Potter books to re-read in preparation for the upcoming release of the sixth book, and while he read the fifth book for the first time I managed to make my way back through the first four, sparking, along the way, much discussion about the books amidst the two of us and Toby and Jess. The six of us also noticed an uncanny similarity between our own adventures and the Lord of the Rings trilogy, leading us to dub one another with the names of our corresponding characters (Toby, who organized the trip and carried the tickets, was christened Frodo, the Ringbearer; his best friend and trusty sidekick Ben became Samwise Gamgee; the mischevious duo Clare and Sofia were Merry and Pippin; Jess was dubbed Aragorn for reasons too complicated to explain; Jay, who was supposed to join us on the trip but had last-minute visa issues, henceforth became Gandalf, and I was known as Legolas). The best part was when Toby, Ben, Jess and I journeyed up Tibradden Mountain on yet another fruitless search for Fairy Castle, and were hit by a freak, 100-meter-wide storm of stinging hail that could only have been sent to us by Saruman.

Other than that, we did make the journey into Dublin one day, to see the Natural History and National museums and do some shopping. We also discovered the sordid truth behind the Irish bus system’s insistence on EXACT CHANGE ONLY (it’s secretly run by a consortium of leprechauns and beavers), made friends with a number of deer, sheep, and rabbits, and spent far more time than was necessary on the comfy sofas, revelling in the availability of a television by watching British soaps and, much to my shame, Britney Spear’s cinematic debut Crossroads.

In spite of that last bit, it was a highly enjoyable trip. The scenery was absolutely fantastic, and precisely as I pictured Ireland would be, which so rarely happens. And I got to spend some time sitting and writing in a grassy, boulder-strewn glen surrounded by fir trees and bathed in the trickling music of a nearby waterfall. What more, really, could I have wished for? Besides, of course, at least the briefest glimpse of Fairy Castle.

Check out pictures now posted in My Photos.


Anonymous Austin said...

Just remembered that you were posting your life and all, and when I checked out your photos I gasped to myself "What the frick," there is totally one of those odd rings of stones on a random craggy hill here in Aberystwyth, Wales. Quite the mystery. There are also some weird standing stone rings around too, but the strange porta potty looking one on the random hill is by far the oddest.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Dad said...

Really enjoyed the update and the pictures. I would love to see some of the pictures from Rome as well. Love, Dad

7:08 PM  
Blogger GrandpaFred said...

next time you must away to county Kerry and the Dingle peninsula at Dingle Bay! But the Dublin area seems quite fine! did you encounter any people speaking "Irish?" A friend of ours who moved to Ireland is back in Maine for a bit and tugging at us to come back and visit again! A temptation...
Is it true that when you get to Scotland your Dad has asked you to retrieve a golf ball he left there some years back? The only time he ever hit a drive and missed the fairway...:)!

Grandpa Fred

7:46 PM  

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