For those who may have just began reading my blog, to bring you into the loop as to how and why I’m on this one year journey as an expatiate, here’s the scoop: My job as a journalist expanded, my expenses expanded and like a 35 year old man’s receding hairline, my income stopped growing.
The risk to take a world-wide adventure far outweighed the risk of leaving a job with no future. I can pursue my love of writing in a different way, as in this blog.
When my book, “Too Close to the Sun” a Dutch boy becomes a man during WWII was published, I left the U.S. and now look forward to the blessings of each new day. Yesterday was one of those days, even though the guide that took a Paddy Wagon full of tourists said, “this summer is the worst I’ve ever seen.”
It has been raining nearly every day since I’ve been here, and began to rain some more yesterday, but ended with sunshine as we toured through Ireland’s “Forty Shades of Green” – a song with lyrics inspired by Johnny Cash, when he saw Ireland outside an airplane window on his way to a concert in England.
I want to give a few impressions of the long day’s trip through the shades of green. In Killarney, we leaned about Dr. Hans Liebherr who became rich from the invention, and building of a factory for a construction crane that would make transportation from ship to shore easier.
Through his riches and his appreciation of the Killarney beauty, he built Hotel Europe and the Dunloe Castle near the town of Killarney and the largest lake, Lough Lein and near the McGillycuddy Mountains. Impressive!
But for me, the most impressive view was that of the waterfall inside the Killarney National Park. A five minute walk took us through a forrest of moss covered, massive tree, and overhanging greenery. With sun poking through the jungle, and following a stream, we suddenly saw water falling through the thick forrest, tumbling down over rocks. It was loud and beautiful, and refreshing to see such massive amounts of water falling down a hill.
Next we saw “a view fit for any lady,” words coined by Queen Victoria when she visited Ireland. She heard that the views from up above were beautiful, but didn’t want to pursue the trip to find out for herself, so the story goes; so she sent her ladies-in-waiting. When they returned she asked them what they saw. That is when one lady responded, with the words that gave the top of the mountain notoriety.
I have to say, this lady (myself) found the view beautiful but feel sorry the queen didn’t see it for herself. Many people have fallen in love with Ireland and return often for vacations, including Charlie Chaplin. He would stay so often in a hotel in Waterville, that he purchased a house there that his granddaughter still visits. Every August there is a comedy festival in the town in Chaplin’s honor. There is a statue of him in the town.
Charles De Gaulle visited the Sneem Village and found it peaceful, and spent lots of time there. The day we were through Sneem, the town was getting ready for a carnival. The top of another mountain we could see on one side of the road, a ring fortress and on the other side three Islands called Bull, Cow and Calf.
The town of Killorglin in County Kerry is wildly celebrated every year to the honor King Puck. King Puck is a wild goat that is captured and brought into town, put on top of table high above so everyone can him for the duration of the towns’ festival. After much humiliation, one of the horns is cut before he is delivered back to the mountains. The reason, according to Michael is so the same goat will not be picked for the honor the following year. This tradition has been going on since the 1600s. That’s a lot of goat to get.
The Ring of Kerry is a fort from the iron age, a fortress for families and their animals. Also old, but only from a modern point of view, are the ruins of a town that was left standing as it was during the potato famine of the 1844 and beyond. People died from starvation, and some left and many died on the way out of Ireland.
The stone houses are covered with vines and shrubs, but the farmers who currently own the properties where the houses are, will never disturb them. According to Michael, they are left for the ancestors of those who perished or for those who immigrated to America. The government passed a law to protect the houses.
You never know when an Irish person would like to return to his ancestor’s native homeland, and he/she would always be welcome. No one has ever judged the Irish for leaving to protect their family. “No matter how long you were away it’s always said, ‘how long are you home for’”, explained Michael.
He mentioned the American Indian Choctaw tribe, who heard of the plight of the Irish, and collected money to send to Ireland to help the starving Irish men, women and children.
It was a long, but wonderful day. I wished I had spent a bit more time in the city of Killarney. Horse drawn carriages, friendly people and beautiful surroundings could make me stay longer.
While sitting at a coffee shop, two men were sitting nearby and started up a conversation and when I left them to get back on the bus, they bid me farewell: ‘av a good day, luv.”