Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Daffodils, stones and soda bread in Ireland

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I’m still wearing green although it’s way past St. Patrick’s Day. Wearing green is a good way to keep the Irish spirit going beyond March 17 when we visited the Emerald Isle to see our daughter, Maddie. She’s on a study abroad semester at Trinity College in Dublin and loves Ireland. I can see why.

There are daffodils blooming all over Ireland. On the ride from the airport, I pointed them out to my husband because there were dozens of the yellow flowers in a park. Later, as we traveled down streets and the byways of Ireland, we saw hundreds of daffodils blooming everywhere like dandelions, even where flocks of sheep were grazing.

Midwest people are friendly, but Irish people seem to exude friendliness especially to foreigners. They’ll happily ask us where we’re from and happily tell us their opinions on the American political landscape. With a laugh, the taxicab driver told us he’d met lots of Cornhuskers when they came en masse to the football game in Ireland last fall, but he wouldn’t hold it against us.

I hesitated to do the touristy obligation of kissing the Blarney Stone, but hanging upside down to do so was worth it because it gave us the opportunity to explore another castle. It was rainy both days we toured castles, which made me think the original residents were probably glad to have thick stone slabs between them and the Irish elements. We walked up narrow stone stairwells, sat in deep stone window wells and gazed up through large stone fireplaces that kept the dampness at bay. We did see one of the brightest rainbows we’ve ever seen out of one of the castle windows.

Stone is a readily available resource, and we saw miles of stone fences that kept in fluffy sheep and new lambs and friendly brown milk cows. The driver of a tour bus we were on mistakenly took a country road bounded on both sides by stone fences. When he came upon an overpass that wouldn’t allow the bus to go through, his only option was to back up a mile until there was a driveway he could turn around in. It was a dicey maneuver even then. Luckily, it’s all pasture because no modern farm equipment would make it down those Irish country roads.

Irish soda bread will be our new St. Patrick’s Day tradition, as will mushroom soup and deep fried cod. Irish coffee is my new go-to bar drink, and I wish we would have filled our suitcases with Irish chocolate. I’ve since read there really was a St. Patrick and he really was an exceptional person. Read “How the Irish Saved Civilization” to appreciate his many Irish contributions.

It was a wonderful trip, and I can understand why Maddie loves living in Ireland. Here’s an Irish toast to end with: “May your heart be light and happy, may your smile be big and wide, and may your pockets always have a coin or two inside.”

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