2018-06-13 / Here's the Scoop

Wearin’ O The Green

If you missed last week’s column (back issues still available!), I wrote about a recent trip to Scotland. For a Sweeney, no trip to this part of the world would be complete without a stop in Ireland. The “home country,” if you will.

Ireland is a popular destination for folks from all over the world. It seems like everyone who I talked to when we were planning our vacation had been to Ireland. They all had one opinion of the land — it was wonderful. I’m in full agreement with that assessment.

Other than general travel information, we didn’t spend a huge amount of time researching the areas where we’d be staying. We prefer our own experiences and our own photos. Since we had booked a “walking” trip via a tour company, our agenda was mostly set — we just needed to bring our hiking boots. And clean socks. Check.

With the exception of its “green” reputation, I’ll admit to not knowing much about Ireland’s terrain. The coloring of the land became very evident as we neared our landing in Dublin.

“They weren’t kidding,” I told my wife. “It sure is green down there.”

Let the adventure begin

A three-hour train ride later we were on the other side of the country and it was plenty green there, too. And mountainous — that part was unexpected.

In my imagination, I had envisioned our walking tour to be leisurely strolls through quaint villages with the occasional leprechaun sighting. I also figured that pubs would also dot the landscape every few kilometers along our various routes. I’m still not sure how far a kilometer is, but I use that term when describing our hiking totals, since it sounds more impressive than miles.

I was right about the pubs, but there weren’t really many convenient locations during our walks. That’s probably a good thing. Leprechaun spottings were scarce, too, but we think we may have seen two. No pots of gold, though.

What we did see a lot of were sheep. Thousands and thousands of sheep of all sizes and colors. These appeared to be nice sheep — we didn’t encounter any baaaaad ones.

No matter where we hiked, sheep were present. Notice I have switched to the term “hike” instead of walking. Following careful directions from the tour company, we scaled sizeable mountains and found adventure around every corner. Lots and lots of sheep poo, too, of course. That was fine, since were encroaching on their territory. Fortunately, they didn’t seem to mind.

Good for us

On a hiking vacation, the benefits are multiple. There’s plenty of exercise and you get to explore places you wouldn’t ordinarily experience on a bus. Plus, when you’re out walking all day, it cuts down on shopping time. That’s a benefit — although I did pick up a spiffy “Ireland” ball cap just so folks could easily identify me as an American tourist!

Which brings me to the people. I’m sure not everyone in Ireland is nice, but pretty much all the folks who we encountered were pleasant and helpful. How refreshing!

As with any enjoyable vacation, it was sad having to leave. Sure, we missed our home and family — and knew we’d have to put up with our cat expressing her annoyance at our absence — even though she adores our house sitter. But this was a fantastic experience and we can’t wait to return. Of course, we’ll have to save up some green, because Ireland is not sheep. Even those it may seem that way.

— Brian Sweeney

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