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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Sláinte to the Dashboard Post-it & Irish Characters

Sláinte!  Cheers!  

I am back to blogging and ready to share about my #ShamrockedHoosiers trip to Ireland 
with my sister, Sarah, and best friend, Carrie.

I told you before I left that God's favorite color is green.  
However, I didn't tell you, or even know, that some of God's favorite people are the Irish.
And no one told me not to ever believe what an Irish man tells you because they are all just crackin' ya (joking you).  

It's my hope that you see some of God's green creation in this blog and that you can hear the kindness in the Irish characters, their concern to make sure we had the time of our lives and their contagious laughs that echo in my head.

Below is a map of the Green Isle with a green line that somewhat represents our travels.  
We were there for 7 full days and nights but it felt like months.  

Three girls, three different sized suitcases and a vague itinerary ended up being a flawless, fun adventure.

We landed in Dublin at 7:30 a.m., freshened up and headed to the Guinness Storehouse.  
I mean who wouldn't want Guinness for breakfast.

Throughout our first full day in Ireland we hopped from one pub to another, 
listening to Irish music and trying to decipher the various Irish accents.

When you go to Ireland, you know you are going to see old, historic things.  
However, until you are there looking at it or sitting in it 
do you realize the magnificent history that you are experiencing.  

The Brazen Head is a pub that was established in 1198.....1198!!!  Think about that! 
There wasn't a whole lot goin' on in 1198.

So you know that green line on the map?  
We didn't ride a bus or go with a tour.  

We rented a car and I drove!  
Let me just say, the right side of the car and left side of the road aren't as bad as they say.  
But the parking, they don't tell you about the parking.  You gotta love the Irish, but they don't care about properly parking and it really messes with your driving.

Oh and they don't have numbers associated with their address.  
One of our B&B's address was "The Rock", literally.

As one of new American friends we met along the trip said, 
"The postman has to know everyone!  Every.Single.Person.  All the McConnells and all the Murphys.
  It's his job to know everyone!"

So I guess if you don't know where you are going in Ireland, ask the postman.

"The Post-it". 
It saved us several times (don't tell my passengers).

I would say besides the parking messing with your head, the turning is a little tricky so why not have a reminder on your dashboard!

Our first real stop in Ireland, besides the pubs, was the House of Waterford Crystal.
Some of my ancestors on my mom's side came from Waterford (maybe this is why I love crystal and fancy things!).

It was nice to see something "American" in the home of my former ancestors who came to America.  
This is a mold for a football trophy.

The tour was really amazing and learning about the craftsmanship was really breathtaking.
The craftsman go through years of training.  Here one is blowing glass for a vase.

The great thing about the tour is that you see the craftsman up close as well. 
This guy was very welcoming, teaching me about the craft of cutting champagne glasses.

He even handed it to us to look at the work closely and said, 
"Eh loves, sorry I don't have any champagne to go in the glass!"  

He was an Irish character we wanted to remember.

On our way out of Waterford, we saw an old man at a roadside stand selling strawberries. 
I slammed on the breaks and veered to the shoulder to buy some.
We learned that we were in County Wexford, home of the best strawberries in all of Ireland!  

They were delicious!

When on an adventure, it's important to remember that back roads on the best roads with some of the best views.

Although the back roads, actually all the roads except the motorways (highways), are scary in Ireland.  When they put Jesus on a "Dangerous Roads Ahead" sign, you should be extra cautious....

And as our friend Carrie soon learned, traveling with two farmer's daughters entails stops to capture photos of cattle and tractors.

When we left Waterford, we really had no idea what was in store for us at our next stop, "The Rock".
Behind this yellow door was one of our favorite characters, Carmel.

Carmel was the owner of our B&B and a great hostess for the evening.  She lived a long, tough but wonderful life as she will tell you with much dramatic detail. The woman has dined with Clint Eastwood, traveled the world, taught fashion at university and is a life learner. She taught us life lessons I can't necessarily share on this blog, let's just say she's my kind of gal.

We could have talked to her for days, our entire trip actually, but we told her we would be back.  
She kissed us and said, "Anytime my darlings!   You are always welcome here!"

Kinsale was a beautiful town where the streets are full of vibrant colors and a slow, peaceful pace.  
It's home to quite possibly the best food in Ireland.

We roamed Kinsale stopping in and out of pubs, shops and even old churches and historic graveyards in the center of town.

Even on a Monday, people were peacefully roaming the streets, not in a rush, and happy to see anyone they encountered.  Again, the Irish, so kind and happy!

The Post Office was a bit busy on a Monday morning, but we were able to stop-in and buy our stamps.

The Thomas Sisters love to write so we wrote many postcards for friends and family back home.
This is Sarah mailing her first international postcard!

Look, even the mailboxes are green!

Our next adventure required us to navigate through the back roads from Kinsale through the windy, city streets of Cork to make it to the Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone!

As we were making our way to the castle to climb the old, stone staircase I saw this elderly couple.
I'm sure they have taken many steps together but it was so precious to see them hold hands to take another one.

When you get to the top of the castle, you have to wait in line.

So it's a perfect time to search for more cows!  They are really everywhere!

Kissing the Blarney Stone is an old tradition dating back more than 200 years. There are many theories and tales behind the stone along with history and tradition.  But the kiss is supposed to bestow the gift of eloquence or as many say, the gift of gab!

The Blarney Castle is nestled on private grounds with gardens, a private home, animals and more on the 60 acres owned by the same family for generations.

This is the private home or mansion you could say.  We luckily were walking by before the last tour of the day.  The family opens their home for tours throughout the year so people can learn about the history of the grounds and meaning behind some of the old Irish traditions.

So I would say our first few days in Ireland were "mighty" and we were ready for some more "grand" times ahead of us full of adventures, crackin' characters and beautiful views.

I'll share the last half of our #ShamrockedHoosiers trip to Ireland again next week!
There are many more adventures and characters to come!

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