Hell of a Guy

Bye, Bye Ireland…


The Big Bird has taken flight and is carrying The Nancy and me home from our Ireland vacation..  It seems a bit humorous to me to say home in the “US,” but that is what our Irish friends say we are doing.  This week has gone by rather quickly, in fact it now seems to have flown by, but the one fact that is certain is we have enjoyed ourselves beyond measure and most surely beyond our highest expectations.

We came to Ireland as a couple of tourists wanting to experience this island country.  We had looked at a number of travel guides, websites and read much about this country and looked at hundreds of photographs in the guides that simply made Ireland look so inviting.  The country did not disappoint us, but more than seeing and enjoying the unparalleled beauty of Ireland, it was the people – the Irish people and those on the tour bus we got to know and fall in love with: the people made this trip all the better.

In our group there were but eighteen and a true Irish character of a tour guide. The more typical group, we were told, has as many as forty-eight, making this one ideal and more intimate for us.  We were a diverse group – a lady from Taiwan, one from California, couples from New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and few singles, two from Canada.  These beautiful people became our Irish family rather quickly as we bonded over a Guinness or two. It shocks me sometimes how quickly The Nancy and I can fall in love with people, and it happened with this group.  Perhaps it was just a case of propinquity as we were almost together 100% of our waking hours.  I believe, as a small group we were even able to draw our tour director into our love circle. It was hard saying goodbye.

And then there were the natives.  The Irish suck you in with their love of life and an open, utterly sincere admiration of the American tourist.  I don’t recall any Irish native being anything but kind and helpful.  The Nancy and I bellied up to the bar in a couple of pubs (the reason I so wanted to come to Ireland) and were thoroughly entertained by the humorous stories and jokes of the guys we met.  We met one named Eddie in Kilkenny at Kytler’s Tavern, and so enjoyed his jokes and stories The Nancy wrote him a personal note so he could prove to his wife that people really enjoyed his sense of humor.  She apparently didn’t believe he had one.

We stayed in four different hotels in four different cities.  We were feed, we were entertained.  We stretched our days as much as we could and we saw things (Sheep dogs in action was my favorite) I may never experience again.  And then there was the Irish countryside that was lush, bucolic, vividly green in some areas and starkly vacant in others.  We saw 800’ cliffs, vast valleys, granite mountains, ancient ruins and more sheep than I could have ever counted without falling asleep.  We even viewed the Atlantic Ocean from a new angle, that being looking westerly.

I highly recommend an Irish vacation for everyone.  I do not recommend attempting to drive Irish roads.  They are narrow, very narrow, and believe me it is rather disconcerting to see vehicles approaching you at high speed on a narrow road on the opposite side of where you are used to seeing them.  Scary!

Before I end this diatribe I must clear up a couple of misconceptions.  The first is that the Irish might be offended if you offer them tips.  In the words of our Irish tour manager, Noel Harte, that is “bullshit.”  No one gave me any of the money I left on the tables and bars back, and we left every server with a smile on their beautiful Irish faces.

The other thing we have all heard about the Irish is they drink “warm beer.”  Using Noel Harte’s expression once again, this, too, is utter bullshit.  We visited the Guinness Brewery and had a pint there with three thousand – at least it seemed like that many – thirsty tourists and locals.  The Guinness there was served chilled and it was sooo good – smooth, creamy and reported to have just 80 calories a pint.  Let’s see, one week, one hundred pints – that is only 8000 calories.  No problem.  Every other pint we had in Ireland was chilled and just as good as the first, and, yes, so much better than the Guinness we get in the US.

Our journey is about over but will never be forgotten.  All I can say now is “Éirinn go brách.”
Agus is é sin go léir caithfidh mé a rá faoi sin (And that is all I have to say about that)…

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Wow…..sounds like a really nice trip you two experienced.  Can you tell me what company you used for the trip…. Joni and I have talked recently about going to Ireland!  Hi to Nancy….....  Gary

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