POST 28 . May the Road Rise Up … literally!

 May the Road Rise Up 

  Happy St Patrick’s Day


We were young, enthusiastic, and adventurous… in 1980. Off we went to Ireland, Carla and I.


Our rental car was a little VW bug, which we named Lady Bug. Though older than Carla, I was quite content to have her drive … on the wrong side of the road. My job was to unfold and unsuccessfully try to refold the gigantic map, marked up with our itinerary.


One mailbox down. Two mailboxes down. 


I politely suggested I take the wheel to see if I could do any better.. I’m a lefty, and it was surprisingly natural for me to drive on the left, even negotiating the many turnarounds with relative ease !


We drove the circumference of Ireland in 3 weeks’ time, staying in farmhouses along the way, often in lonely off-the-beaten track spots. 


Sheep and cows were everywhere. The sheep roamed free but could be identified by the splashes of color on their backs. Each color represented a different farmer!


Sheep roamed everywhere in this country in 1980. We called a flock of sheep or a herd of cows or donkeys on the road an Irish  traffic jam!


It also seemed that every farmhouse had a few pigs for those lovely rashers of thick bacon and sausages every morning for breakfast. 


One such farm had a pig named Hamlet who adopted us and followed us everywhere, even into the house!


The problem traveling the Irish countryside was finding each night’s pre-booked B&B. After landing in Shannon, for instance, we had the address of our first B&B, #25 Dublin Road. The problem? Dublin Road is 150 miles long! Finding #25 took us 3 hours. 


By then our eyes were red and bleary and our stomachs gnawing. We finally decided to pull off the road and sleep in the tiny car! Then there it was, a tiny sign nearly obscured by a flowering vine. How had we not seen it the 10 times we had passed it before? O’Donnely’s Farm! 


We had only driven 15 miles, back and forth! Worth the hunt, for sure! Welcoming and warm, we sat by the peat fire and ate delicious brown bread, thickly cut with freshly churned butter, also steaming soup topped with a big dollop of cream. We slept like babes in a tiny room upstairs.


And so it was as we traversed this island… lush shades of green, yellow gorse, purple heather, wild rose, all parcels neatly divided by stone fences. Such a rocky landscape, yet full of breathtaking sights!


Down the east coast and around the south and backup the west through the Ring of Kerry and around the Dingle Peninsula. Could Ireland be more beautiful than this? Surely I would have to return someday, with my husband.


Somehow as we continued  driving north on the west coast, it did get wilder, more rugged and more beautiful with every sharp curve in the road. Dangerous, exciting cliffs dropped abruptly to the churning and crashing waves far below. Scary driving at times. No guard rails or stone barriers. 

A burial dolmen, Adare village, ,Cliffs of Moher, Celtic cross in Inishmore, Kylemore Abbey


Stops at the Cliffs of aMoher and into the rocky Burren in search of an ancient burial dolmen that rose out of the karst limestone floor, its top lintel 8 feet above.


We reached Connemara, which is my favourite area, totally wild and mountainous,  sparsely inhabited. Oh, so beautiful. And we did find the wild Connemara ponies and a lot more sheep. Many Irish traffic jams in this area, too.

Connemara Pony, Connemara Connemara sheep, Ballysheen, ,Heather and gorse

 On one especially beautiful  day where the hills rolled together, creating a riot of color. Lots of multi-coloured sheep grazing. This was the penultimate spot for roaming afoot! Excitedly, I pulled the car onto the shoulder of the narrow country lane. We grabbed our cameras and off we went to roam the hills and chat with sheep.


We played for two hours or more, basking in the wonder of this magical place. We hunted for leprechauns, certain they, too, would love this place!


Eventually we returned to the car, exhilarated by our adventure. 


Until, that is, when I saw how I had parked the Lady Bug. I always nickname my rental cars. 


There she perched upon a rather large boulder, like a seesaw! Uh oh! How were we going to manoeuvre out of there? Or were we destined to wither away and die of hunger and thirst, with no escape?


Carla and I sat deflated in by the roadside, contemplating our fate. Remember, it’s 1980! No cell pnones!


Finally we decided there was but one option … WALK! But how far and for how long?


Just as we gathered our stuff, 2 men came over the hill on bicycles, dapper in their tweed jackets and caps. 


They greeted us and assessed our plight. We were hoping they would go for help. 


But no, that was not their plan!


They parked their bikes, approached the Lady Bug, walked around it twice, and  muttered something in Gaelic. 


Then one gent took to the rear of the car and the other to the front. They bent their knees and placing their hands under the bumpers …


They lifted the car off the rock and gently placed it back onto the road, tipped their caps, mounted their bicycles, and disappeared into the sunset ( for real). We stood in astonishment.


Leprechauns they were!

2008 Mary and I on Dingle Peninsula


I cannot tell you how many adventures I’ve had in Ireland on the 3 trips there … 1980 with Carla, 1984 with my husband, and 2008 with my fiends Carol and Mary!


Let me know if you’d like to hear more tales from Ireland!


Remember, I’m listening!


All photos and watercolours, such as they are, are of my own making!







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