Travel #6: Mother and Daughters Explore Ireland, 2016

March 28, 2020

My two daughters, Andrea and Sonya, and I spent two wonderful weeks exploring Ireland. Starting off in Dublin on the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, we attended museums and demonstrations celebrating the rebellion, including Kilmainham Jail. We also ended the trip in Dublin with a visit to Trinity College to its remarkable library, including the Book of Kells.

Having a car made the excursions on the island particularly exciting, and we could follow our interests, depending on the weather and what appealed to us. A wonderful day was spent at the Irish National Stud & Gardens, state-owned commercial stud farm which also incorporates famous Japanese Gardens. Since Andrea and Sonya had each raised and cared for a horse in our backyard corral and loved riding along the American River, the opportunity to get close to some of the finest horses alive, was a thrill.


Galway was a great place to spend several days, enjoying the music and the pub scene. Driving north along the coast, we visited the Cliffs of Moher, the Burren, and The Giant’s Causeway, a sandstone cliff, 700 feet above the Atlantic Ocean. We stopped at Sligo, burial place of William Butler Yeats.

Then we crossed over into Northern Ireland. In both Belfast and Derry we took a tour of the neighborhood, with the wall of barbed wire, designated the boundaries of the conflicts between the loyalists and republicans. We spent time reading the murals on the “Peace walls”  with their political messages. We were there right after the Brexit vote so our conversations with people there were extremely interesting, especially the man who told us he voted for Brexit as a protest, never thinking it would pass.  The Titanic Museum in Belfast was particularly interesting as there is a family story that my grandparents had steerage tickets on the Titanic, but because my grandmother was pregnant with my mother, they gave those tickets up, and after my mother was born in July 1912, they booked passage to New York. There’s no way to prove this, but it’s a great story.

A highlight was visiting Newgrange, the Megalithic 5,200 year old passage tomb in the Boyne Valley built by Stone Age farmers. The passage and chamber are aligned with the rising son on the mornings around the winter solstice.

In addition to the coastal views of beaches and cliffs, intense wind and weather, that is part of being in Ireland, history is always present. From the tiny cottages, the peat bogs, and the displays about the  Great Famine  (1845-1849), to the present day when Ireland has become a successful high tech part of Europe (the Celtic Tiger), we felt surrounded by the warmth, humor, and strength of the people.

After Andrea flew back to the U.S., Sonya and I had a few more days. We drove back to the coast, enjoyed Dingle where she went horseback riding and I took a cruise around Dingle Harbor, hiked in Killarney National Park.

All three of us would gladly return to Ireland as it was “grand” vacation.