Four weeks ago we departed San Francisco airport and flew off to what was to become one of our greatest vacations ever. We have been back for a week now and I am finally getting around to organizing photo stories for this blog. It seems that it takes longer every year for our aging bones to shake off the results of jet lag, particularly when the jet lag turns into a nasty cold!
My wife and I have been happily married for 50 years and we decided to celebrate our golden anniversary by bringing our entire family across the continent and the Atlantic to experience (most of them for the first time) Ireland, the land of my ancestors.
We began planning for this vacation a year ago and decided right away that we would spend a total of three weeks in Ireland and at a different place in each of those three weeks. When we received an invitation to a family wedding in Northern Ireland it was settled that Belfast would be our destinaton for our first week. For our second week we chose a place we hadn’t visited in either of our previous two visits to Ireland: Galway, which is located on Ireland’s central west coast. Finally, we decided to spend our third week in the fair city of Dublin where, according to one of my favorite songs “the girls are so pretty.”
My younger daughter Debbie and her family joined us in a whirlwind tour of Northern Ireland where we saw the great sights and experienced great craic with friends and relatives. Two of the land’s main attractions did not exist when we last visited Northern Ireland: the Titantic Museum in Belfast and the Game of Thrones filming locations all over Northern Ireland. The highlight of the week was our first Irish wedding. Cousin Henry’s son Paul got hitched to his Amy at a beautiful resort named Ballynahinch about 15 miles south of Belfast.
After a week in Belfast we returned to Dublin and then rode on the bus to Galway where our older daughter and her family met us at the bus station. They flew in to Dublin earlier that day and took the bus directly from the airport, beating us by about a half-hour. For the better part of the next two weeks all ten of us would share drinking in some of the fantastic sights and sounds of Ireland, starting with Galway and its neighboring counties of Clare and Mayo. We explored the Cliffs of Moher during this week as well as the hills of Connemarra and one day visited one of the Aran Islands. We also spent a lot of time just walking around the lovely little city of Galway where we encountered some of the friendliest people we ever met.
There’s a lot to see in Dublin and we walked around a lot to see all of the city’s gems that we could in one week. We also toured the Wicklow mountains one day and visited the monastic ruins of Glendalough and the beautiful Powerscourt Gardens. We have to admit that my wife and I were really dragging the last couple of days as we tried to keep up with the younger legs of our daughters, sons-in-law and grandkids. We spent most of one day just resting in our hotel room. The next day we managed to get outside our hotel and walked all the way to the museum next door!
I will have more details about our fabulous vacation in the next few days and weeks, beginning with our private tour of The Giant’s Causeway on the northeast tip of County Antrim. Stay tuned!
All right, I briefly mentioned one of my favorite songs a couple of paragraphs ago. Here is one of my favorite musical groups of all time singing that song:
There are several versions of this song by The Dubliners on Youtube. Paddy Reilly’s version is from their 40th anniversary tour in 2002. Patsy Watchorn also has a popular version. But this one features the voice of Ronnie Drew who founded the Dubliners in 1962. Someone once described Ronnie’s voice as “a piece of coal being scraped across a wooden floor!”