Thursday, 19 September 2013

Holiday Observations – Ireland


Arrived back home this afternoon after a lovely windswept, rain-sodden, sun-tinged week in the Emerald Isle. It's one of those places you always feel you should go and visit, being so close and all, especially if you have family from there (like most of the US if the visitors were anything to go by – met more yanks than Irish).

I'll be showing some photos that I took in a later post, when I get back to the gaming board, as I've brought lots of inspiration back with me. However, as a stop-gap I thought I would highlight a couple of things I learned or observed while I was there. Just my opinion – feel free to disagree ;)

First of all, living in Kent, it's only an hour away on a plane to Dublin. That is insane – we were in the queue at Hertz to collect the car for longer than our flight (which says as much about Hertz as it does the travel times… but don't get me started on those cowboys).

It's not cheap. For some reason I thought it would be one of the cheaper holidays we've taken in recent years but without going overboard (aside from a massage treatment after a day of walking) we manage to spend a disturbing amount of money without realising it. Time to tighten the belt. I'm sure if you know people over there who can navigate you to the more cost effective places to eat, drink and visit, you could come away with more cash left in your pocket.

Driving there is virtually the same as driving in the UK, but with much less traffic. The motorways were only two lanes for the most part but the traffic (once away from Dublin) was like an early hours Sunday morning drive. The main roads have a large 'hard shoulder' that doubles up as a lane for slow traffic which is genius and meant no long hold ups behind lorries or tractors. The only thing that stumped me a little was everything from speed to distances was in kilometres.

The weather. Yes it rained, just like everyone said it would. However, it was also very sunny. Because of the high winds where we were the weather was very changeable… I'm talking minutes between a heavy downpour and cloudless blue sky then back to rain. Incredible thing to watch. It meant you had to be prepared, but as we were it was not a problem. One taxi driver described it as four seasons in four hours and he wasn't far wrong.

The people. Maybe it's because we're in an economic downturn and people have a lot more to think about these days, but the image of the ever-friendly, chatty Irish man/woman beaming… no. It was no different to being in the UK. People were just as miserable, with a few exceptions. Given a lot of people we spoke to were in the service/tourism industry I found this surprising. As I said, there were a few exceptions… and the exceptions were exceptional to be sure. That's not to say that they're not passionate – we had a day of demonstrations in Dublin yesterday that spilled into lots of pushing and shoving with the Garda (police)… and that was the pensioners complaining about cuts. I overheard one guy say to a Garda that people are just very angry at the moment in the city.

The countryside. I know they call it the Emerald Isle but I was blown away by how beautiful the place is. Looking through the photos we took, it seems like I've ramped up the saturation on the greens, but the trees, grass and mountains were such vivid colours it took my breath away. The landscape is reminiscent of the Lake District, in the North of England, but a Wizard of Oz version of it. We spent a couple of days in the National Park near Killarney and it was beautiful. This time last year we were at Mariposa Grove in Yosemite National Park and I couldn't get over what a spiritual place it was – this place gave me a very similar feeling… one that puts you in your place and makes you appreciate these lovely environments.

So, that (in a nutshell) was Ireland for me. Aside from Dublin we only really did the south. It was not quite what I expected but it was a very beautiful place and I'm so glad we went. I would like to go back at some point a do Northern Ireland as well as the more northern and western parts of Eire.

Normal service on the blog should resume next week!


11 comments:

  1. Never been to Rep of Ireland, but i did once go to Northern Ireland, I caught a 13 hour night ferry over to Belfast from Liverpool. One of the roughest sea crossings I've ever been on. I still felt ill 2 days after I got off the ship, then it was time to get back on it again!!!

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    1. I couldn't face the ferry at all, or the car journey to get there, but your night ferry experience sounds horrendous Ray!

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  2. We spent a weekend in Dublin before the crash. But had the same experience as you (but without the green bit).

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    1. I found the city to be (largely) like most other European cities… aside from the Guiness Storehouse of course!

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  3. Until this last comment here, I was concerned about the noted absence of a certain salubrious beverage.

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    1. An mistake on my part. It's a constant in Ireland, like the weather. And it definitely tastes better there, even moreso in Dublin.

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  4. Hahahaha-so you saw us as we really are! See we spread that lie about the happy friendly Irish person just to get tourists to come. By the time you get there, well it's too late, you're there and we get your money! We are a very miserable lot right now and that's down to the economy.

    The reason for all the Yanks right now is because we're doing this massive thing called The Gathering and we're luring Irish Americans in with their loads and loads of money in the desperate hopes that they will invest in their "heritage" They won't though, it's mad of us to think they will. That's the only reason things cost you so much.

    And truly, Dublin does not represent what Ireland is. It's the wrong place to go on holiday to get to know us. Our culture, our heart, our spirit and what it is to be Irish lies in the West.

    I appreciate your honesty in this write up, it's a refreshing change from the malarkey we spin about ourselves :)

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    1. Ahhh, so that is what The Gathering is all about – saw logos for it everywhere. There were certainly a lot of Americans there, being shipped in by the busload and Blarney was drowning in them. Whether they were spending money is another thing.

      Hopefully the West will be the next trip – it's got a lot to live up to ;)

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  5. Sounds pretty spot on to me! I live in Dublin, and I love Dublin, but I don't know it would be my first choice of Holiday destination in this country! Lot's of rich history, sure, but a total rip off (everywhere, really). Galway is the city I'd choose to visit, but even then, it's the countryside you really want. As with the previous comment, appreciate the honesty!

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    1. I can understand your love of Dublin and can see it would be a cool place to live. It just seemed a little generic to me compared to other parts of the country we saw.

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    2. As a Dubliner myself I agree with you to a point, Dublin is very dear now with the euro, the people feel put upon by the government, cuts everywhere, everything going up and no end in site it can drag people down especially as people move from Dublin to the country what capital is cheap though, next time if there is one see a native and I'll let you know where to go and not just in Dublin (too many people).

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