There are more than a few people that are always encouraging me to go to Ireland’s west coast. When they discover that I create a ‘home base’ in the southeast, east, Midlands and south central Ireland … well, they look confused. You can see their minds racing, almost thinking, how could someone go to Ireland and not spend all of their time on the west coast?
It is simple … I am an “Ireland’s Ancient East” girl.
I grew up in north-central Wisconsin. It was dairy country (although, I was raised on a small beef farm). It meant rolling farmlands of cattle, alfalfa and corn. The area also bordered on the recreational area of the north. So, we didn’t have to drive far to see bluffs, lakes and state forests. I grew up ‘land-locked’ and didn’t know any better. And, as an adult, I find that it translated into loving the rolling agriculture countryside, forests and mountains. It is where my soul finds peace.
Don’t interpret that I don’t like the west. I have been a few times. There is a certain rawness to the coastal landscape. I know that one of these trips, I will base in the west; experience the Atlantic’s beauty and fury. (Achill Island is first on my list.) But I have this small problem. When I begin planning my next vacation/holiday, I start by looking at the west and then I slowly drift east. There is this ‘pull’ (maybe there is something to genetic DNA.) I think to myself … I am not finished there, yet.
I do have to thank Fáilte Ireland for creating Ireland’s Ancient East. I can now use three words to reference the area that keeps calling me ‘home’. You see, for the past couple of years, I feel like I have become a one-person-US-ambassador for this area through my social media sites. People might be aware of a few tourist pockets, such as Glendalough, Cashel or Newgrange, but the area is so much more. It’s rich in history, architecture, agriculture, mountains and seas. So …
- Do you want deep Celtic history?
- On a treasure hunt for ‘saints and scholars’ sites?
- Interested in ancient ruins of passage tombs, dolmens and stone circles?
- Want to hike a few mountains for breathtaking scenery?
- Meander along the Celtic or Irish seas?
- Do you have an interest in the arts?
Then Ireland’s Ancient East is for you, too. What I really love about the vast area is that as I drive to from one place to another, the richness of sites continue along with way. It’s why I go without an itinerary. I pick one place to start my day and then meander off the beaten path on my way back home. Every excursion manages to deliver an experience that simply stops me in my tracks. And I stand there. I stare and think … how can I ever capture all of this in my photographs? Then, I stand a little longer.
I would like to encourage anyone looking at Ireland to take some time and explore Ireland’s Ancient East. Don’t just drive through it, stop at a couple of places, and then hop back in the car as you head west. Take a few days and be, well, simply amazed!!
Oh, and the people … pretty of amazing, too!