Take a moment. First breath I am weak in the knees. The second is one of amazement.
I stand at the top of the long sloping paved avenue leading to the House of Parliment (Stormont - built in 1928). Gazing about I see a sea of beech trees flanking the avenue. Like soldiers on guard they stand forever proudly. 1520 trees in all. Each one representing a soul lost to the tragic sinking of the Titanic. A supposedly unsinkable ship who stunned the world with her demise on April 15, 1912. The natural monument lends to the character Stormont boasts.
Step back 1200 years in time to when monastatic communities were mainstays of civilization.
Having done this you could find yourself in County Wicklow in the Wicklow mountains. Glendalough, the glen of two lakes, the result of glaciation 200 million years ago. This monastatic settlement, founded by St. Kevin in the sixth century, consists of 7 churches with a round tower calling people to prayer. As the mist hovers, the site is borderline eerie. A shiver tells me I am in a magical yet mysterious place. There is definitely a historical energy here.
It would not be Ireland without a legend associated with Glendalough. For Glendalough the legend shrouds St. Kevin, the Patron Saint of Glendalough. Kevin of the Fair is said to have been so connected to nature that when a bird had laid an egg in his out stretched arm and he stayed like this holding the egg during the incubation period of 21 days until the egg was hatched.
I am not one for heat! And, believe me, Mexico brought the HEAT!!
For those who cannot get enough heat. Head to Mexico. My word! The air conditioned rooms were my saving grace. What a lovely resort. The massive expanse of property was meticulously kept. The workout facilities kept those happy who wanted to work off the buffet's impact. Pools glore. I went with my family and we enjoyed a fantastic all-inclusive six days. Lots of time spent in the pools, card playing and chatting. Best laugh was when my daughter almost stepped on a lazy iguana sunning itself on a walkway. Gotta love the shreik.
Despite being tranquil and romantic, Ross Castle carries with it a powerful presence.
You catch sight of the castle from many vantage points while strolling about in Killarney National Park. Unlike other castles, Ross Castle, has not been restored. Giving it an air of being left behind. True, pure, magestic are words that come to mind. And loads of doorways! Viewing the castle at night presented the castle in a spotlighted sigularity. The image will reside with me for a good long time. The water of Lough Lean, adjacent to the castle, laps the shore while swans and deer are free to roam about. A treasured experience.
Legend has it that O'Donoghue, the castle's builder, still exists in a deep slumber under the waters of Lough Lean. Every seven years, on the first morning of May, he rises from the lake on his magnificent white horse and circles the lake. Anyone said to catch a glimpse of him is said to be assured of good fortune for the rest of their lives.
To really experience Ireland in it's entirety a trip to Belfast is a must.
Approaching the city a feeling of unrest lingured. I was wondering if the city's tumultuous past had truly subsided. The motor coach, undaunted, rolled into the city centre. My first impression, surprisingly, was that this is a happening place. The city has great energy. No being dower. Words like alive, active, safe were much more accurate. The city does not dwell on it's past. Rather it felt as though the city is looking to a vibrant future. The city boasts three universities and is one of the main employers in the InformationTechnology sector. Known for it's ship building. Most famously, the ill fated Titanic was built here. Packed with history, culture and great food my visit to Belfast was thoroughly enjoyable. If you should make it here be sure to visit the Crown Bar, the oldest standing bar. Quite unique.