I'm back in Dublin now. Can't believe it's really been a week since I was last here! I have seen a lot of Ireland's beautiful scenery, but more importantly I have learned A LOT about this unique nation, its tragic and violent history (both distant and recent) its myths and legends, its odd traditions, and yes, I now feel like I KNOW Ireland.
I must admit, I was kind of expecting it to be a lot like England. And in a sense, it is. A lot of the roads and shops are the same, etc. But this is a country (two countries, really) unlike any other, rich in history and tradition, a proud nation that's been pushed around by others for the past few thousand years.
My prayer is that in maybe 50 or 100 years, the North and South are once again united, free from both British rule and internal conflicts. That the people could look to the past with heavy hearts but look to the future with hope and the knowledge that in the end, their freedom was worth fighting for. I don't know how likely that is, but I can dream...
Here's a few final photos of the Emerald Isle. I'll comment on each one. I have no control over what order Blogspot decides to put the photos, so they will be chronologically all over the place. Nothing I can do, sorry.
1. This is a little pub we stopped at for morning tea. Can't actually remember the name of the town... It was featured in a movie called "The Field" starring Richard Harris.
2. This was on an island called Devenish. We went there by boat and got to wander around the 12th century monk ruins. Amazing stuff... And those monks must have been really short!!
3. We did a day trip to an island called Inis Mor (literally Irish for "Big Island.") It was a brilliant day. We hired bikes and rode all over the island. It's still fairly old-school there, and the people all speak native Irish. (Gaelic) This is me posing on top of a very tall cliff at the site of a prehistoric stone fort called Dun Aonghasa. This thing is thousands and thousands of years old!
4. The Giant's Causeway is something very, very strange. It's right up the very top of Ireland, and on the beach are these incredible stone structures, many of them perfect hexagons like this one. They Irish government has applied to have his listed as an official "wonder of the world," and it truly is. It has scientists stumped!
5. More of the Giant's Causeway.
6. Me at the Giant's Causeway!
7. Not far from the Giant's Causeway is the Carrick-a-Rede suspension bridge, which takes you out over a ravine. It's not a particularly LONG bridge, but it IS a very tall one! Not for people squeamish with heights! This is me standing on the cliffs beyond the bridge. You can actually see Scotland from there!
8. An old church on Inis Mor.
9. This was taken this morning in Belfast. Wow, there's a lot to say about that place! This mural in particular was of note because of how cleverly it's painted. No matter where you stand, that soldier is pointing his gun right at you!
10. Jumping back to the ancient monk ruins on Devenish, we attempted a group photo with timers. Mine didn't turn out too well, others did a bit better than me.
11. The gigantic wall that, to this day is there to divide the Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. What a horrible, horrible thing. I almost couldn't comprehend that these Northern Ireland conflicts could be real. And since it's such recent history, the city is still very raw. I felt a little uneasy around areas like this. Our tour guide told us that politicians talk of tearing the wall down, but the reality of the situation is, that would most likely just flare the violence right back up again. These walls have been built taller and taller over the years to stop people from throwing stones / bottles / explosives over them. It's all wrong. So wrong.
12. They love their murals in Northern Ireland. ("Norn Iron") It's almost like a kind of storytelling, a way to remember what should never be forgotten.
13. Okay, we're back to the Giant's Causeway. If there's a logic to Blogspot's ordering, I can't see it.
14. Here's the bridge I was talking about earlier.
15. Random ruin on Inis Mor. Taken from my bike.
16. I took this photo from the bus. This awesome castle had been built on a cliff overlooking the Atlantic, but natural causes took place and the erosion of the cliff took part of the castle with it! No one's lived there since.
17. This was taken in a nice little village where we stopped for lunch one day and I can't remember what it was called. >_<
18. Blimey, it's St. Patrick!
19. One more shot of the monks' ruins on Devenish.
Sorry for the long-winded post, but I hope it's been interesting and gives you an idea of what I've been u to over the past week!