"" Writer's Wanderings: Slán go fóill, Ireland

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Slán go fóill, Ireland

Our last day of touring Ireland we left Belfast and traveled down the coast with the Irish Sea on our left as we headed for Dublin. This last little bit of roadway would bring us full circle around the Emerald Isle. We stopped in Newcastle for one last tea and scone and arrived in the last place on our itinerary my husband wanted to see, Bru na Boinne.

In Bru na Boinne, the area between the towns of Slane and Drogheda lie prehistoric passage tombs. There are about 40 mounds in the earth which are the oldest surviving traces of human activity in the area. The largest of the mounds is Newgrange which is surrounded by a kerb of 97 stones, the most impressive of which is the entrance stone that is covered in engravings.

Much to our chagrin, we found that the tour would take too long for us to do since we had arrived a little too late to catch the ride to the tomb and would have to wait until the next scheduled one. We explored a bit the visitor's center and added on another reason to return to Ireland.

Along our journey I picked up quite an eclectic collection of observations of Ireland and its people. Here are a few:

* Hubcaps are often tie-wrapped not because of theft but because they could pop off on the rugged roads.

* Side view mirrors are the most likely auto repair job because of the narrow stonewall lined roads. We managed to return the rental with both still intact.

* M roads are fastest and widest. N roads are wide enough for two cars and can be quite fast. R roads are a bit unpredictable in size and speed. L roads are usually one lane, sometimes with grass in the middle and even though the speed limit may say 80 kph keep it much lower.

* The Irish like their butter. As one woman put it "we use it by the slab."

* With lots of drizzly rain and sunshine, you are guaranteed to see rainbows--although we found no pots of gold.

* No matter how fast you travel on a road, no matter how narrow the road, the locals will pass you.

* Portions in the restaurants were always huge which begs the question, Why aren't more Irish people obese?

* Black pudding is a spicy breakfast sausage. If you have a squeamish stomach, don't ask why it's black.

* Count on dramatic sky-scapes to be ever changing.

* Pitch and Putt courses are not your regulation golf courses. It's a whole different game.

* A sign that shows a road narrowing is usually accompanied by the words, "Traffic Calming Device." Huh?

* Rest assured that if you hesitate whether in your car or on foot, someone will ask if you need help with directions.

* And if a gentleman should happen to come up to your table while you're having tea and start a conversation in Gaelic, just smile back at him, nod your head a bit, and keep quiet. He'll never know you didn't understand a word of it. Then again, you could be meeting up with a leprechaun and not know it.

With that, I say Slán go fóill, Ireland. Goodbye for now. I suspect we will return. You have totally enchanted us.

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