We’ve been in Ireland for a week now, biking, exploring, eating. We’ve travelled a little over 450 km, all on our trusty tandem bicycle. J has been keeping a running blog of each day’s adventures at beyonddonnybrook.wordpress.com which I won’t repeat. This morning I just want to share a few general impressions about this wonderful place.
Since we are traveling by bike, slowly, our impressions cannot be extrapolated to the entire country. Much of our time, this week, has been spent in County Clare, on the midwest side of the island.
The people really make this place! They are so friendly. They may be particularly friendly to us because we are odd, showing up in an area with apparently few bikes, and on a tandem yet too. But, even as we walk in the evening, in our street clothes, folks have time to stop and talk, beyond just answering our requests for directions. As we meet folks walking along the narrow roads we often greet them and receive a greeting in return. J suggested that it was our greeting causing the response, not the friendliness of the people so, we experimented and waited for their greeting, and it still came. When we are not greeted we now assume the folks we are meeting are other tourists!
I find it intriguing the way, in the area we’ve travelled anyway, the people live in their history. The countryside is littered with skeletons of churches, castles, ring forts, and innumerable stone houses. We did pay to visit an ring fort interpretive centre, but otherwise these monuments to the history of this place are just there, the grass cut by cattle and sheep, sometimes with a signboard describing the happenings in the place, sometimes not. It’s such a contrast to our “build something new, bury the old thing” mentality. I’m sure the things we are seeing are now protected, but the fact they survived till now is amazing, providing the people with a constant reminder of those who came before them.
We have three more weeks here, another nine days on the bike north of Galway, then back to Dublin to join our friends, and a bus, to explore more of this wonderful island.