Gaelic for “Travellers have tales to tell.” Oh, how true!


I spotted this quote on a building in Galway, Ireland. Having
just returned from spending 10 days in Ireland, I do have so many tales to
tell. I went to Ireland as a chaperone on my daughter’s high school educational
tour. One might think that being a chaperone for high school students would be
a nightmare but it was actually great. We were a small group from St Pete High
& so we were included with 4 other groups-2 others from Florida, 1 from
West Virginia & 1 from Texas-for a total of 48. The kids were so well
behaved & truly enjoyed seeing all the sights, meeting new people &
trying new things. The bad thing about these trips is that they are heavily
scheduled on most days from early morning & until late evening. The good
thing is that they are so scheduled that you see more & have all the
arrangements for transportation, hotels, most meals & museum/castle fees
made for you at a discounted price. Our guide Kathy was excellent & our bus
drive Paddy was so skilled at maneuvering the tour bus through tight old city streets,
on windy cliff hugging roads & over one lane country bridges. Hats off to
them both!

signs in Dublin, Ireland

Ireland was just as fantastic as I remembered.  I love all the history, the architecture, the
ruins, the people, the literature, the arts & the music. The Guinness wasn’t
too bad either-of course, I HAD to sample it in the home country. The people
were all very friendly & extremely polite. At first their extreme politeness
seemed strange but by the 3rd or 4th day, we were all
used to it & wished that everyone was like that throughout the world.  Even the weather was better than we had
expected. It did rain everyday (which explains how the 40 shades of green came
to exist in Ireland) but there were also hours of beautiful sunshine in
between. The temperatures were quite a bit cooler than Florida but not bad at
all-mostly high 50’s & 60’s (14-18C).

ruins at foothill of Cashel, Ireland

Ross Castle, Ireland

For me it was especially touching to walk down the streets
where some of my ancestors had walked some 200-300 years ago. It was great to
finally find the family crests & origins of some of my family. Our names
are not in the top 200 names usually represented in the heritage shops but I
was actually able to find them this time. It was a big score for me, the
genealogy nut.

High quality crafts are found throughout Ireland. Of course,
the woolen sweaters & blankets, the Claddagh rings, Waterford crystal &
Belleck pottery are world famous. There is also a lot of museum quality Celtic
design jewelry, handcrafted furniture, incredibly tasty dairy products (Ireland
produces most of the butter for Europe, we were told), beautiful lace, classic
men’s woolen caps & stunning walking canes. Even the usual tourist trinkets
seemed to be of high quality & made in IRELAND.

The real estate in Ireland is a little different than in the
majority of the USA.  Like most of

thatched house & restaurant Ireland

Europe, the homes are much smaller than we are used to & it is not uncommon
for several generations or cousins to live in the same home. Even though Ireland
has been hit hard by the recession too the prices remain much higher than in
the St Pete-Tampa Bay area. The average home in Ireland costs about $300-350,000
USD for about 1000-1200 sq. ft. (93-111 m sq) down from $450-500,000 two years
ago. (National prices have fallen 38%
since the price peak at the end of 2006, according to the permanent tsb / ESRI
House Price Index Quarterly Review.) Yes, there are still thatched roof homes scattered about even in the big cities of Dublin & Galway. Don’t think that I will be buying a home in Ireland any time soon.

Blarney Castle, Ireland

Some of the places we visited & some of the things we
did include Dublin, Trinity College & the Book of Kells, St Patrick’s
Cathedral, Dublin Castle, the National Museum of Ireland with a great overview
of the entire history of Ireland, Cashel, kissed the Blarney Stone at Blarney
Castle, Bunratty Castle, Ross Castle ( a castle a day), Limerick, Galway, Ring
of Kerry, Cork, the Cliffs of Moher, a ghost tour of Killarney, a jaunty (horse
& cart) ride, Irish music & dancers, Titanic museum in Cork, tea &
scones in an Irish Tea Room, potatoes, Irish stew, more potatoes, Gaelic soap
operas, cows, horses & sheep-they say that there are 2 sheep for every
person in Ireland!  Oh, it was so great!

I highly recommend a visit to Ireland. Certainly, I need to
visit again but stay longer seeing some of the places we missed this time,
spending more time with the local people and just enjoying life.