St. Patrick’s Day

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March 17 holds significance for me in two ways. First of all, and most obviously, it is Saint Patrick’s Day. Growing up in Ireland I can remember many a day spent very unproductively celebrating whatever it was we were celebrating… usually from an early hour too! Last year Sam and I were lucky enough to be in Dublin to join in with the locals as they did what they do best… great experience. If you want a quick fix from the Emerald Isle, check out my gallery of Ireland photographs, including the one below from Dunmore Head looking out toward Great Blasket Island.

Secondly, as I check the weather forecast for the coming week, I am pleased to notice that we are expecting a brief spell of almost 70 degree temperatures here in Maine. While definitely abnormal for this time of year, March 17 and St. Paddy’s Day always spell the end of winter for me. The clocks have just sprung forward, we are in the throes of March Madness, and in a couple of weeks we get to enjoy the dogwoods of Augusta during The Masters golf tournament. For me… this is a good time of the year, so cheers!

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If it’s good enough for Bobby Flay

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… then it’s good enough for me!

Just last week I watched TV star chef Bobby Flay explore the culinary world of Ireland, and on one of his stops he sampled the fare at Leo Burdock’s Fish and Chips in Dublin. As Sam and I wandered the streets of Dublin on St. Paddy’s night, we stumbled on this iconic location, and even though I had already eaten earlier in the evening, I couldn’t resist the temptation to order from the menu. What did I order, and was it as good as Bobby said it was? Cod and Chips sprinkled with salt and vinegar wrapped in paper… oh my!

A Guinness in Dublin

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I don’t think I have ever seen a more energetic event of such a huge scale as St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin. We enjoyed the large afternoon crowds who lined the parade route, and even though there were limited opportunities to actually see the parade, we still had a great time. Once the parade was over though, that’s when the party started!

Sam and I wandered around the famous and eclectic Temple Bar area for a few hours. We ate some good food – yes, that’s right, Ireland has come a long way in the culinary world since I was last here – and of course, we shared a few pints. The Guinness we drank – outside on the sidewalk on a mild and pleasant evening – was exceptional. Cool dark and rich… it went down really smoothly.

As we headed back to our hotel to try to catch up on some sleep, the city center was alive with a throng of people. I grabbed a quick shot of the Liffey Ha’penny Bridge that was built in 1816. The atmosphere was incredibly light and friendly, despite the considerable amount of drink that was being consumed.

My guess is that there will be a few people who get a slow start the morning after 🙂

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin

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The photograph above is of Monea Castle which can be found just outside Enniskillen in County Fermanagh. After graduating from university, I spent a really enjoyable two years getting my feet wet learning how to teach physical education and geography at Enniskillen High School. Looking back, at that age I didn’t fully appreciated the beauty of the landscape all around me, but that just means I can return and get re-acquainted, right?

It is now less than two weeks until Sam and I leave for Ireland, and I have to admit, I am getting quite excited about the trip. Our arrival coincides with what I remember being a national holiday – St. Patrick’s Day… or did it just feel like a holiday because everyone took the day off?  Either way, my memories from this time of year are of milder weather and usually a few pints of a favorite beverage. Sam and I will likely spend the day (and night) in Dublin to experience the local fare, after which we will head north toward Lurgan to visit the family.

On this trip we are renting a mini cooper… I have always wanted to drive one, and I figured its small footprint would serve us well as we will probably have to jostle with the sheep and the cows on narrow country roads! We will spend a couple of days in the north doing the family thing, but after that we intend to head west and south to explore some of the more remote southwestern parts of the island. It looks like the adventure will start in and around Galway before heading south toward Limerick and the area around the River Shannon. We want to take some time to explore the Dingle peninsula and Killarney, but beyond that we have no real itinerary… we plan on stopping when we want to stop, and moving on when we feel it is time. If anyone reading this has suggestions for places we should include, especially related to hikes and history… we are all ears!