Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day takes me back to 2013 when I finally had an opportunity to go to Ireland. I found a tour that would allow me to visit parts
of England, Scotland, and Wales, as well as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With ancestors from four of those five countries, I wanted to explore the lands of my roots.
Ireland was as beautiful as all the pictures, travelogues, and stories promised.
The people were friendly, the food delicious, and the scenery spectacular. There are many delightful places I sojourned but here I’ll share just a few.
One stop was The Giants Causeway World Heritage Site in Northern Ireland. Here you can walk
on over 40,000 hexagonal basaltic columns that resulted
from volcanic eruptions. As one might expect, there is a legend that tells of the giant who built the causeway to walk to Scotland to fight a Scottish giant. It is no surprise that one can also find similar basalt formations across the water in Fingals Cave on the Scottish Island of Staffa.
In Dublin I visited Trinity College Library to see the famed Book of Kells.
These colorful illuminated medieval Gospels were produced in a monastery in the early 8th century on the Isle of Iona, Scotland, in honor of Saint Columba and later taken to Ireland. While there are 680 illuminated pages of the medieval Gospels, the library only displays two of the current four volumes at a time, one showing an illustration and the other displaying typical text pages. The library itself is a sight to behold with its mammoth book filled cases stretching to the ceiling. Dozens of busts of well known authors are mounted at the edge of each aisle.
Traveling around Dublin you will spot the famous colorful Dublin Doors, of eighteenth
century Georgian homes. Strict building guidelines governed the homes making them closely resemble each other, so residents began painting their front doors vibrant colors and installing ornate door-knockers to show their individuality.
Driving through Belfast, you will see many vivid murals of scenes and people painted on the sides of buildings
. These paintings remind us of the three decades in Northern Ireland called The Troubles, a period of continual strife between factions wanting
independence from, or remaining loyal to, Britain. Many efforts at finding an agreeable political solution failed until the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998. The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have enjoyed greater peace and prosperity in recent years.
To learn more about ST. PATRICK ~ British Patron Saint of Ireland, visit my blogpost from last year.