Eileen and I just returned from our first trip to Ireland...and certainly not our last one. For both of our families, we were the first to return to the ol' sod. Our distant ancestors came over in the 19th century, taking different routes to get to America. Mine came via ship to New York City in the late 1800's. Eileen's came via Canada to Montana. We both have O'Sullivans in our ancestry. I was named after my great-uncle, Patrick Francis O'Sullivan, since I was born on his birthday.
While both of us had our separate thoughts, emotions, and desires about Ireland, neither of us really knew what to expect. Eileen certainly was looking for the music and musicians to learn from at sessions and to the festival of traditional Irish music, Feile Chois Cuan, in Louisburgh, Co. Mayo, Ireland. My goals were simpler, I think. I wanted to see Ireland where a good deal of my gene pool originated. At least half my gene pool anyways, since my Mom was 100% Irish. While my last name is English and we know more about the Lyford ancestry than the Irish side of our family, we certainly were raised with a predominantly Irish slant.
In Ireland, we went to Dublin, Galway, Inis Oirr (Inisheer), Clifden, Louisburgh, and Ennis over a course of 14 days, not counting travel days. Dublin is, well, a big city. Much like any other big city. People were hesitant to say hello or look anyone else in the eye and pretty much kept about their own business. It has it's very large tourist element, particularly in the Temple Bar District near city center. A place to avoid unless reliving college party revelry is on your bucket list. Trinity College was very much worth the visit. Saw the Book of Kells, which was impressive, but I thoroughly enjoyed the architecture of the building and the "long room", as it's called, which houses thousands of volumes of rare books.
|Upper rooms in The Long Room at Trinity College|
While in Dublin, we stayed at the Ariel House, a Victorian house built in 1850 that's still in the process of being restored to its original beauty, on Lansdowne Road, in Ballsbridge, which is adjacent to a train station that made getting into city center a breeze, once I figured out how to get the required tickets for us and which station we wanted to get off at. The ticket is needed to get to the loading platform to board the train and to get out of the station once you exit. There's no notice to inform you of this. Unfortunately for the rest of the B&Bs we stayed at, Ariel House set the bar too high for them to match. Breakfast at this place was absolutely delicious. I would have eaten all of our meals there even if they were only serving the breakfast all day. The staff were excellent and the rooms were quite comfortable and quiet. I booked this through Booking.com and got a very good price for our two nights there. As I said, Dublin is a big city with all the things that go with that. One of the main reasons I'd return would be to stay at Ariel House again. The staff in the dining room could work at any 4 or 5 star restaurant. We felt at home here. Here's a short video of Eileen at The Ariel House with the Donald Duck voice. WTF!
On Sunday, April 28th, Eileen and I took a Citylink bus to Galway where we then took a shuttle to the ferry that brought us to Inis Oirr island, one of the Aran Islands, where we spent the next two nights and one day at the Radharc an Chlair (View of Claire) B&B. More on that later or else this will turn into a book, fer Christ's sake.
Ok, a tune to exit with....this is Antoin Mac Gabhann and his two daughters, Bernadette (who we met in Louisburgh, Ireland, at the 4 day traditional Irish music festival we went to). Antoin is playing some reels and his daughters are dancing. Antoin is a friend of Eileen's and we hung out with him in Louisburgh, as well. He's a well known traditional Irish fiddler and teaches all around the world. Eileen met him at Friday Harbor, a traditional Irish music camp she attended for a few years. He was teaching fiddle. Enjoy...and more on our trip in another post. I'll try not to bore y'all to death...