Ireland: One Visit is never Enough

guinnessUsually, one visits a country to see some spectacular historical buildings or the location of famous battlefields or events, to view great natural wonders, or to bask in tropical warmth and splendor. With Ireland it’s different. People visit Ireland and return often just because it’s – well – Ireland. The country is an island packed full with history. It’s a virtual museum; just the right size for a two week visit.
It’s compact. Every place is easy to get to. There are an abundance of bus tours available, and driving by rental car is easy if you can remember to drive on the left side of the road. When driving on many back roads, it makes no difference on which side you drive as the roads are only one lane wide, and oncoming cars must gracefully move to the shoulder to pass by. It seems that every other home is a Bed and Breakfast inn, and the price of accommodations is quite reasonable.

The country is filled with historical wonders. You could spend a lifetime walking to them all, and you’d never be more than ten minutes away from the next historical marvel. In the United States, we are impressed with buildings built in the 1600s. Gravestones with dates in the 1700s seem ancient and evoke awesome looks from tourists. In Ireland the concept of time and the span of history are different.

My wife and I stood in quiet respectful awe as we looked at the large monolithic grave markers at ruins of an ancient abbey to see the date 400 AD carved into the wind worn stone. I stood on a stone wall built in the fourth century, a wall which is used to this day to keep sheep from wandering. And I still get a thrill when I remember moment when I placed my hand on a Stonehenge like structure, one of many that were built 3000 years before the birth of Christ.

Don’t think, just because I babble about historical treasures, that Ireland does not offer occasions to rock and roll. Dublin and Galway have a robust and active downtown scene. Dublin is delightful with its crowded pubs, fine restaurants, excellent shopping, and a choice of fine shows where you can sip a Guinness dark while enjoying great Irish comedy, music, and dance. When you’re not eating or being entertained, you’ll find that Dublin is a great walking city, with its assortment of street musicians, mimes, and jugglers. To revert to my historical affections, The grounds of Trinity college are always open for a stroll through, and viewing the stately Post Office where the 1914 uprising began is a powerful experience – emotional if you’re Irish.
If you plan a trip to Europe in the near future, you couldn’t do better than to start with a visit to Ireland, the European country that is closest to home. The only problem with a visit to Ireland – once is never enough.

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