Green has never been my choice of colour to wear, it has never really suited me but I do love the Emerald Isle, shamrocks, Leprechauns, Fairies and rainbows. So on this day, March 17, I thought I would celebrate St Patrick's Day by sharing a few of my wonderful memories of this special place that is close to my heart. Those that have known me for a long time, also know my maiden name is "Branigan" so even though I am proudly Australian, there is no denying my also proud Irish heritage. In 2010 my husband and I spent part of an amazing 5 week holiday in the UK, on a road trip experiencing some of the delights of my (and his, he is Scottish) "home" country.
I discovered the delightful architecture around Dublin via the open air double-decker bus. In so doing also discovered that Dublin is probably the coldest place on Earth in October! We wondered why we were the only silly people sitting "up top" until I was so frozen I couldn't move! The Trinity College Library was the highlight of Dublin for me. It felt like entering another magical world filled with inspiration, dreams and so much knowledge! My mother-in-law had always talked about the Book of Kells, on seeing it I understood the grandeur and magnificence of this gospel book written and illustrated so delicately and intricately by Monks over 1200 years ago. I was in awe of this library and could have spent hours just sitting soaking up the ambience.
The Ring of Kerry filled me with wonder and creative writing ideas. As we walked through bush tracks to the lake I had visions of fairies and Leprechauns dancing at every turn. My dream is to return one day and spend time there completing longer walks and writing more stories. I have already built my fairy house for our garden and have story ideas in various planning stages. As for the Leprechauns, they are coming too. More on them in my alien adventure series in books 3, 4 and 5 still to be released. I do feel a trip back to Ireland may just be what I need to finish this series. We didn't spend near enough time in this gorgeous corner of Ireland, it did rain most of the time we were there making it difficult to walk and see things. Next time I plan to go more prepared with raincoat and gumboots.
We explored ancient castle ruins and stayed in renovated castles that were filled with history, Medieval ornaments, (including complete Knight armour) and beautiful portraits. We met some fabulous Irish folk that made us feel welcome and right at home. So much so, one night we stayed up talking to 4:00 am with one amazing couple. We had the bar all to ourselves, no waiter or bartender, just us to help ourselves and leave the money on the bar when we left.
I tried to find out where "Branigan's" hail from? It appears they were fairly wide spread throughout the Isle. I was given answers from Dublin, south to Killarney or Kilkenny as well as north to Kilkeel and beyond. They certainly seemed to get around, no wonder the name is said to be synonymous with Ireland.
In true "Bennett" style, we spontaneously decided to head north into Northern Ireland even though this was unplanned. Meant changing return flights to be able to stay a few extra days, but was so worth it. We drove up to County Antrim to explore the Giant's Causeway Coast. In a word...stunning! The Giant's Causeway was amazing, Dunluce Castle hauntingly spectacular and the Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge terrifying yet awesome. We walked till we dropped most days, there was so much picturesque scenery to see.
Sadly all good things must come to an end and so we caught the ferry from Larne across the North Channel to Scotland. I leave you with this warning - be sure to catch the ferry not the fairy, for if you catch the fairy across, upon arrival in Scotland your bags will be checked for Leprechauns. The Scots do not want uninvited guests.
These are a few of my special memories of Ireland. What are some of yours? Happy St Patrick's Day and may the luck of the Irish be with you.