The Story Behind the Images

Hedges, Kilruddery House & Gardens, Bray, County Wicklow

It is time for a reboot of the site!

My style continues to evolve. While I still work to capture that iconic ruin or landscape image, I now find myself pausing along the way. Instead of walking past a bench, a stone wall or even a tree, I stop. I take a breath and work to be present in the moment. At that time and in that place, I question myself – what is Ireland letting me borrow for that moment before she pulls it back?

If you explore my older posts, you will find information on various places that I have visited since June 2012. After my third trip, my blog stalled. I wasn’t sure the direction that I wanted to take. In the meantime, I started Facebook and Twitter accounts to share my photos. And while those sites are slowly growing, my social media sites were disconnected.

My goal when I returned from my June 2014 visit was to resurrect this blog and find my voice. But, providing historical/tourist information on a site didn’t feel ‘right’. There are dozens of sites that I can point you to for information. They will do a better job than I ever would. So, what direction? What voice?

Since it is November and not July, you would be right in thinking that there was still a bit of a struggle.  So, I decided to sign up for an online, travel blogging class this fall by Dangerous Business (http://www.dangerous-business.com).  The class has provided a variety of information, ranging from tips to approaches.  What it has really done was find a way to pull it all together.

So, I reflected on the question that I am often asked … why do you keep returning to Ireland? One primary reason are the experiences; many unexpected. As I post my image to Facebook and Twitter, these stories are lost. Then, it came to me … I can use this blog to connect the social media sites. This will be my avenue to tell the stories behind the images. To share the Ireland that I have discovered and love.

So, it is time to get started. I liked the idea of using the image of the Kilruddery House & Garden’s hedges for a feature image.  It is a visual that shows my path coming to a focal point; thought it would be appropriate  I am also going to leave you today with a few other images today.

As always … enjoy your day!

Malahide Harbour, Malahide, County Dublin

Malahide Harbour, Malahide, County Dublin

Between the Stones, Doolin Pier, Doolin, County Clare

Between the Stones, Doolin Pier, Doolin, County Clare

Hidden on the Suir, Cahir, County Tipperary

Hidden on the Suir, Cahir, County Tipperary

 

 

Mo Anam An Bhaile (My Soul’s Home)

Boyne River, County Meath

Boyne River, County Meath

Recently, I read the following phrase … Mo Anam An Bhaile*.  Translated from Irish to English means My Soul’s Home.  It resonated with me as a way to explain my continued desire to return to Ireland.  I find that as I arrive an internal compass kicks in; flickering in all directions and trying to point me towards  that elusive ‘place.’

With each destination that I visit a part of me whispers ‘yes’ or ‘no.’  There have been some places that have called me back, such as Cahir and Kilkenny.  Many have been nice, but I leave thinking … not here.  But there is more to Ireland than I have explored, hence the reason to spend the second part of this trip in the Midlands.

So far, my focus has been primarily in the center of the country or the western side of the Midlands.  I have visited some high tourist areas, such as Clonmacnoise and Birr.  I hopped over to Galway, and skirted the eastern area of the Midlands by stopping at Kells and Trim.  Yesterday, as I reflected on the past week, I thought … it isn’t the Midlands.

Today was a new day.  I travelled to the heart of the Boyne Valley which is the eastern side of the Midlands; close to the coast.  My goal was the ancient passage tombs of Newgrange and Knowth, along with the Hill of Tara, the political/spiritual center of Celtic Ireland.  As I crossed the River Blackwater and followed the River Boyne from Navan through Slane my internal compass seemed to settle.

Tara Sheep, County Meath

Tara Sheep, County Meath

I spent five and a half hours at the Newgrange/Knowth complex and then another two hours at Tara, which also included time with a flock of sheep. Both places seemed to blend into the countryside.  My focus was as much on my surroundings as it was on the monuments. I stayed until the sun started to set.

Yes, sun. It was another perfect, sunny day. And … now I know where to focus my energies.

*Mythical, Magical, Mystical: A Guide to Hidden Ireland by Christy Nicholas.

Fall-ing for Ireland

Heather :: Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow

Heather :: Wicklow Mountains, County Wicklow

The theme for this trip is Fall-ing for Ireland.  I have been fortunate to experience Ireland in the  summer and winter Months.  Both times, it was the height of the season; summer and winter solstices.  It seemed appropriate that I should plan this trip around another season. So, I selected fall.  The fall equinox will occur this weekend.

The trip started out as a ‘high adrenline’ run in the southern part of the country.  Tammy joined in on the fun the first week.  We managed three coasts, high tourist spots, and off-the-beaten path areas.  Based out of Cashel, County Tipperary,  we had the ease of going any direction; and ‘go’ we did!

Tammy headed back Sunday, a week after our start.  I packed up and am now based in Tullamore, County Offaly.  This area is referred to as the Midlands.

The weather has actually been cooperating; if Irish weather will do such a thing.  Last week we had more sun than rain.  Although it is Ireland, so there was plenty of clouds.  Sunday was heavy rains and high winds … a perfect day to unpack, settle in and scout out Tullamore.  Monday was a bit of everything, which meant I didn’t feel the least bit guity of having a slow day in Birr (including the 30 minutes under a tree waiting for the rain shower to pass; my umbrella left in the car.)

As I sit here, the rain continues at a steady rate. The weather radar shows that the majority of Ireland is receiving rain. It  is giving me an opportunity to catch my breath and sort through photographs. But tomorrow, the forecast shows a return to sun!

Okay, as accurate as an Irish forecast can be that is more than thirty minutes out.

Travel Day (Updated)

Kilmaneen Farmhouse Cottage

—Thursday Evening—
The Newark airport was interesting. Very busy … And I was able to view my first police arrest in an airport. No … not me. It was kind of cool to watch … One person, five police officers who very quickly, but quietly (or as quiet as you can possibly get in an airport) surrounded the man and moved him towards the wall. One was putting on the cuffs, one talking to him, one diverting traffic, and the other two ‘patting’ him down. No yelling, no commotion … Just matter of fact.

Then there was my flight to Shannon. In a time when flights are over booked and every seat taken, I was quite please to see the flight didn’t fill up. I had been monitoring all day. In my row of three, it continued to show the middle seat empty and I was hoping it would stay that way. Well, the window seat person was a ‘no show’. Yep! I had the entire row of seats. So, instead of staying up the entire flight … I laid down and slept for a couple of hours. Also a short flight of 5 hours and 20 minutes. Why is it when I get the optimum seating arrangement … The tailwinds are on our side and the flight is two hours less than scheduled?

Customs … Easy with a ‘welcome to Ireland!’ Car in hand … Part of the day at Bunratty Castle and to Kilmaneen Farmhouse.

Kilmaneen Farmhouse Cottage

Kilmaneen Farmhouse Cottage

—Thursday Afternoon—
O’Hare wasn’t as smooth this morning as it was in June. Patience was in order. I am currently sitting in Detroit. United has become my airline of choice and I am puddle-jumping today. I am sitting in the wing for the regional jets; there is only about 10 of us here. It is very quiet! I have to say that I am quite enjoying it.

Two hours in Detroit and then a flight to Newark, NJ. It will be a new airport for me … Should be interesting; 2.5 hours there before my flight to Shannon. Everything is showing ‘on time’. Who knew that we would be having weather like we are. When I made my plans, I was well aware that the odds were against me with the weather. There should at least be snow on the ground.

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For those that are curious … The red pin is Shannon, Ireland … The purple pin is where I will be staying.

—Wednesday Eve to Thursday Am—

Sophie is tucked away at my parents … She knows something is up. But she is safe and sound for the next three weeks.

Sophie and her carrier

Sophie and her carrier

We headed to Rockford at 4:30am to catch the bus. As I type this on my phone, we are pulling out of the parking lot … On schedule at 6:00am. Next stop … O’Hare.

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Returning to Ireland

Yes… I am returning to Ireland.

I had a wonderful time this summer. If I could use one word to describe June, I would use “saw”. As my vacation wound down, I simply felt like I wasn’t finished. Sara and I saw A LOT! We put over 2,200 miles on that ugly, orange car.

My one word theme for this trip is … “explore.” I simply want to wander. I have a list of possibilities, but I am working hard not lock in a schedule. I want the same flexibility we had this summer; going with the ‘flow.’

  • Christmas Markets (Kilkenny, Waterford, Killarney ….)
  • St Nicholas’s gravesite, as legend has it
  • Window shopping
  • Christmas Mass
  • Photography … Yes, even in December/January
  • and much, much more ….

My packing is almost complete. Sophie is a bit worried … She is heading with me tomorrow for Lena, IL. She will once again stay with my parents.

With that, I will be posting … as an American in Ireland over the holidays.

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