Why We Like To Go To Ireland

Connemara of County Galway.  Words and pictures can't describe the beauty!

John the Shackle Horn (Matchmaker, Old Irish Dating Service), Molly  (John's Horse) and Kimmy my Wife at Killarny National Park  Molly doesn't like the switch, everytime John would tap her rump she would swat him in the face with her tail.

Creigganbaun near WestPort, we are about a thousand feet above where the car is parked.  My wife didn't think "Himself" could make it up the mountain. Sheep Shit Everywhere!  It is the most beautiful place in the world!

The People and the Music are just as Beautiful as the Land! A Pub in Westport, Mandolin, Guitar, Bodhran (Drum), Bag Pipes, Fiddle and Fife. They did a couple of Bob Dylan Songs too, Fantastic! Musicians and Artists don't pay Taxes in Ireland.

                 Cliffs of Moher, 10 feet behind us is a 710ft drop to the ocean.

"The Spruce Goose" at 8:00AM near the Shannon airport. At 8:00PM it's wall to wall people!  The Pubs are nicer than most court houses in the States.  A Publican (Bartender) has to go through an Apprenticeship before he's allowed to handle a bar alone.  It's not about mixing drinks (there's only two mixed drinks in Ireland, Beer and Cider or Whiskey and Water), it's about Control of the Bar.  In five trips there we saw a man starting to get a little out of hand.  The Publican came out from behind the bar, took his drink out of his hand and said "Any more out of you and Your Out!"  The man meekly sat down and quietly stayed the rest of the evening  without a drink.  We asked the Publican what he meant by "Your Out"?  He said "Forever!"  "Your Out" is akin to being shunned from your friends and family. Everything happens in the Pubs. In some places Town Meetings, Court, Weddings and even Church Services.  At one Pub we stopped at near Tulia in County Clare they hold Sunday Mass and at Noon you can be sitting next to the Priest at the bar and he'll buy you a beer!  People don't stay home and watch the Boob Tube, they go out and talk to other people.  Public drunkenness is Not Tolerated!  Four letter words in a Pub is frowned upon and you will be told about it. The Brawling Irishman is about a thing of the past, like the song says, "I Dream of a Place Where No One Has To Fight". We overheard an Englishman making fun of them, "They sing of the land and their Country", they don't understand!

"Anthony don't be breakin the Yank's camera with your ugly face now!" As soon as I talk, "Where ya from Yank". I tell them Pittsburgh.  "Pittsburgh? I suppose you work in a Steel Mill".  "I Retired from one after 32 years".  "You don't say!"  They really like us Yanks, they want to be like us???

No Karaoke needed in Ireland.  A man from the audience got up a sang "Dirty Old Town" an Irish favorite and he knew all the words. Young and Old mix like they are family, it's nice!  They have a reverence for the elderly.  People 55 years and older go ahead in a line of people, market checkout, theaters, everywhere. The women laugh at me there, I will open the car door for my wife and they will smile and ask if there's something wrong with the young lady?  The women don't wear makeup, dress very conservatively and Run the Country!  "Wipe You Feet!" (tersely spoken), "Yes Mame".  They usually handle the money in a family. Several instances I would get my wallet out in a store to pay for something and the man behind the counter would say, "Best to let the woman handle the money". 
My first trip there in 1998 I was really surprised by the food, excellent!  And more than you can eat.  For lunch my wife and I like the Brown Bread (Soda Bread) and Seafood Chowder, salmon, prawns (shrimp), mussels in a white sauce.  They call it "Bar Food", I call it Gourmet. My wife gets embarrassed when I do the back stroke in the bowl!  For supper we only order an appetizer, the main course does us in for the evening.  Salmon steaks in a white butter sauce that melts in your mouth.  Rack of lamb with mint jelly.  Stone Crab Claws in a butter sauce.  A 12" plate with no room left on it and a side dish with the vegetables and potatoes.  They can't raise good beef though, the soil there isn't deep enough to raise corn.  "To have good beef you have to throw the corn at 'em for the last couple of months", as my father used to say.  The Irish Killer as an Irishman called it is their breakfast.  Two eggs, bacon (Canadian bacon), two links of sausage, toast, a half cup of whipped butter and my favorite Black Pudding (organ meats with barley and buckwheat in it).  My father made it and called it "Ponhaus".  Wish I had some now!  Profiterals are both my wife's and my favorite desert.  Small cream puffs filed with 100% whipped cream (it's yellow because of the butter content) with a chocolate sauce over them. The Crème Brule's are a close second, custard with brown sugar melted on top. Beware if you stop at a SuperMac (McDonalds) and order a hamburger, it will be made out of Ham, yuk!  Beer is expensive, $3.20 a Pint and Guinness Stout is usually what's in the pint. "Guinness is Good For You" is a sign you will see all over the country.  You have to acquire a taste for it but once you do... given the choice of Guinness or a Sweet Nectar from Heaven, you'll take the Guinness! I quit drinking coming up on three years ago but when I'm there I drink a couple of pints of it a day.

It rains almost every day but usually only for five or ten minutes, not a place for sun worshipers, overcast most of the time. When we went in 1998 there was what they called a "Heat Wave", 75 Degrees Fahrenheit.  They were blowing off of work because of the heat????  Raining Cats and Sheep in the picture below!  A rental car worker told us, "About the worst thing you can do is run over livestock, Your In Big Trouble!"  The sheep are not fenced, they have dogs that bring them down out of the mountains, fields or highways for shearing or slaughter.  They are branded with two colors of spray paint on their backs.

Rhododendrons grow wild, everywhere!  At Killarny National Park in the last of May, there is a five mile stretch of road with them on one side of the road and a lake on the other.  Again words and pictures are no justice.

This last trip (our 5th) was the first time I didn't get anxiety attacks (a tightening in my chest) when a bus was coming the other way when driving. The road shown in the picture below is about the norm there.  Buses will run this road between 50 and 70 miles per hour.  Once in Galway a bus driver was unloading luggage from a bus.  I stopped and asked him if it was true that Irish Bus Drivers had to fly at least 6 years in the RAF (Royal Air Force) before they were allowed to drive bus in Ireland?  He smiled and said, "That's about it!"  Irish bus drivers know how to drive! Driving on the left can cause some exciting moments for a Yank.  The two problems I've had were forgetting my self and starting on the right, head on collisions are hazardous to your health. The other causes many nervous moments for your passenger, forgetting there's four more feet of car on your left side than you usually have, the steering wheel is on the right.  Numerous times Kimmy has almost crawled into the back seat before I almost ran up and over parked cars in a town.  Her unrepeatable words were always enough to get me back to reality in time to dodge them.  Our first trip I took the chrome strip off the side and the left side mirror didn't do us a bit of good in the trunk after Kimmy drove.  They have what they call "Round Abouts".  Instead of stupid 4-Way Stops, they have a circle with 4 to 6 roads intersecting it.  A yield sign to get into the circle and the car in the circle has the right of way.  If you miss your turnoff, just go around again.  It even works on M1, one of the few four lane highways there.  The Irish are crazy drivers but are courteous and conscious of other people on the road.  If the car in front of you is going twenty miles an hour slower than you, they will pull to the left so you can pass them.  They pass on curves, very few straight stretches of road there, if another car is coming the other way both the car your passing and the car coming will pull to the side while you go down the middle.  It looks suicidal the first time you see it but you get used to it???  They don't have any problems with "Road Rage" like we do??? Gas is between $5.00 and $6.00 a Yankee gallon, lots of cars with 4 cylinder engines. A full size Chevy would have problems getting around anyways with the narrow roads.  The road signs amuse me every time we go over.  "Car Boots" or Tyres (tires), "Loose Chippings Ahead", "Black Zone" (someone wrecked and died at the sign) and if you go over you better believe this one "Dangerous curves Ahead". I've been able to read the manufacturer's name molded into the tail lights of all the cars we've rented from the drivers seat! Getting around Ireland is very easy compared to the States.  At an intersection there will be two signs pointing the direction. One to the name of next town and the other to the name of the town at end of the road what ever it's called.  If you have the time and want to meet the Irish, just stop, get out of your car and ask somebody how to get there.  You will end up surrounded by people telling you where the good fishing is, the most scenic road to take, stop at Patrick's Pub they have the best bar food but half an hour later you still won't know how to get there! "It's just down the the road a little"

Number of U.S. residents who claim Irish ancestry


Copyright 02/20/2003 Howard L. McHenry

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