I recently traveled to Ireland with my son, and we experienced the wonderful scenery, the friendly people, the history, and the delicious food and drink that this island has to offer. We flew into Dublin – and after an exciting time on Saint Patrick’s Day – we set off by rail to the western, more wild part of the country. The scenes from the train changed from urban to countryside, as we made our way to Cork. All the little village stops along the way were quaint and the conductor would announce the stop in both English and Gaelic, concluding with a thank you:
Thank you for riding Iarnród Éireann. (Thank you for riding Irish Rail).
To my ears, it sounded like he said, “Thank you for riding, here or there.
This thought resonated throughout the journey as we went by bus or shuttle to remote locations or simply walked through villages and towns in which we spent the night. There is something exciting and wonderful about rambling through the country-side and discovering new places. Whether it was the colorful row houses above Cobh harbor or the barren stones and sea/landscape of the Burren, forests near Killarney or the city street, Ireland offered what seemed like all possible combinations. And these were accessible from points A and B or C or…Z
Just by what seemed a random direction, any number of beautiful sights and experiences could be found by wandering.
It is no wonder then, that the Irish poets and storytellers, or those that emigrated over the last couple of centuries, spoke and sang so fondly of this beautiful country. It stands in stark contrast to the tragic history of conquest, famine, civil war and unrest that has plagued the people of Ireland over the centuries. Both sadness and beauty erupting from the same surroundings is remarkable, and dare I say, poetic. The countryside simply cries and laughs and inhales – everywhere you look.
Here or there.