St. Patrick’s Day Blarney

St. Patty’s Day is just around the corner.  So I thought I’d post some “travelogue” pix from my July 2009 jaunt to the Emerald Isle.  We spent five full days “on holiday” in Ireland.  We flew to Shannon and rented a car.  We spent a night in Adare, three nights in An Daingean (Dingle), two nights in the Killarney Lake District and one night in Cashel.  We stayed away from the big cities.  Mostly we hiked.  Along the way we befriended a number of handsome sheep and a few very curious cows.  And we experienced typical fickle Irish weather; that is, it rained part of every day.  I kept my camera in a plastic bag and sometimes photographed while holding an umbrella.

Dingle, or An Daingean/ Daingean Uí Chúis, as it is called in Irish, is a Gaeltacht – an area where the government recognizes that the Irish language (AKA Gaelic) is the primary language and widely spoken at home, in the workplace and at school.  We indeed heard people conversing in Irish as they went about their business in the market or pub.   Throughout the 40-mile-long peninsula signs are in Irish.  A common one is “Taisteal go Mall” (go slowly), followed closely by “Tog Bog E” (take it easy).   Something we took to heart as we hiked through the hilly pastures along the crisscrossing Dingle Way and Pilgrims’ Route – Go Mall/Go Slowly and Tog Bog E/Take It Easy.

At the pub you might learn that the original Celtic Crosses were carved from the standing stones of the Druids. On the other hand, a popular legend has Saint Patrick introducing the Celtic Cross. Regardless of its origin and meaning, the Celtic Cross is an ubiquitous symbol of Ireland, second only to the shamrock.

Great Blasket Island - They say that Great Blasket Island is the westernmost point in Europe. It was home to some of Ireland’s most famous Gaelic writers in the 1920’s and 1930’s. But the island was abandoned in 1953 when only 22 inhabitants remained (in its heyday, it never had more than 30 houses). Great Blasket Island remains uninhabited today. Feral donkeys roam the island and take shelter in the houses that have fallen to ruin.