Today, we went north of Limerick, first to the Cliffs of Moher and then on a walk in the Burren. The Cliffs are part of the Burren, a protected Arctic landscape. The views were astounding. The Cliffs are 700 feet high, rising out of the Atlantic Ocean and stretching on for 5 miles. We were absolutely gifted with gorgeous clear weather and a high of 75! Literally - once in a lifetime views!
|Irish cows grazing RIGHT NEXT to the path, which was right on the edge of the Cliffs. (They were fenced in)|
|Cow selfie! (can you tell I work for an Animal Science department? I was SO excited to take a cow selfie)|
|The gorgeous stone fence along the path.|
|Irish cows are happy cows. How could you not be with this view - and that delicious lime-rich soil?|
As we drove along western Ireland, I was really struck by how much the views reminded me of home (southwest Iowa). Rolling hills, rural landscape, the various shades of green and gold...beautiful.
This area of Ireland, County Clare, is home to traditional Irish music. I made a note in my journal that the little fishing village of Doolen has pubs that ALWAYS play traditional Irish music. That day, we were treated to our first Nigel serenade: a traditional Irish song (in Gaelic) about the county fair. (How appropriate as my family at home were gearing up for the fair!)
[Now an interjection for my deep thought of the day]
Why are the Irish [songs] so melancholy?
Such sadness in their music, but their countenance so jovial?
"Suffer in this life, Pamela; so you won't have to suffer in the next!" (Pamela's Irish grandmother)
They let themselves be pierced by life - but,
have found their God in that sorrow,
and that joy effuses out.
...and when they don't, they find solace in drink and song -
and when they do, they remember through song and drink.
Life is short. Enjoy what you can. Find joy where you can.
The Burren: geographical, geological, biological, agricultural, historical natural wonder. Our guide here, Tony, was phenomenal. He was a true Irishmen - poet, scholar, soulful, humorous, serious. To have spent more time with him exploring the land - and we still would just be scraping the surface. Nigel kept referring to this as a "cursed" landscape, which I thought meant very little could grow here. However, upon doing a little research, I discovered the word is karst. I hope you'll forgive me; with the brogue, it's very easy to see the confusion. :)
|The limestone bedrock - no topsoil here.|
|Look! I found Michigan in Ireland!|
|Our group enraptured by Tony's tales|
|A side wall of a stone famine house in the Burren. Can you imagine trying to grow anything on that landscape?|
|The two side walls of the famine house. Can you picture an entire family living in a house that small?|
[connection from the daily Mass readings of the Israelites in Egypt to our pilgrimage] It is fascinating to me - to think of the effect oppression has on the oppressed group: just in terms of numbers. The Israelites grew more numerous than could be counted while in Egypt. The Irish, while oppressed under British rule, numbered 8 million at the time of the famine.
That night, we were on our own in Limerick city. My new friends: Lisa, Clare and Sarah (the mother-daughter duo from IOWA), Emily & Kevin (and their exchange daughter from Spain) and Glen went out for dinner at a pub on the river. While there, we spotted Milton - a man pulled from the audience during our castle dinner. ...and like I would do, at one point later in the evening, happened to yell, "Milton!" and then we just waved. and laughed awkwardly...and then watched him walk outside to his friends and tell them that he was just spotted by people from last night's dinner.
So it is with Jessica.
|Musicians - not Milton. I'm not that creepy.|
Remember that adorable little half-pint picture from Day 1?
Well, my new friend Clare kept telling me ALL DAY that a half-pint is actually called a "Lady's Pint." Well, now of course I want to be thought of as a lady, and as culturally appropriate, so later in the evening, I went to the bar to order a "Lady's Pint" of Smithwicks Red.
No sooner had the words come out of my mouth then the bartender said, "That's sexist."
Beg pardon? Still trying to win some adorable points, I said, "No...that's sexy."
"NO, that's sexist - because in Ireland, women drink a real f---in' pint."
*hangs head in shame; places tail between legs* "oh."
Then Clare told him that he hurt my feelings - and he said, "To be a real Irish woman, you're going to have to get thicker skin."
*knife turns. salt pours into wound.*
Now, for a Limerick:
On a Monday night in Limerick,
I encountered a bartender - a bit of prick.
"It's sexist," they say,
"to order a Lady's Pint." Touche.
To be Irish, my skin must grow thick.