Ireland’s Ancient East

Newgrange, County Wicklow, New Ross, & County Wexford

My journey began in the Dublin Airport where I rediscovered my dependence on my cell phone. In this case, I needed it to locate Malachy Quinn of My Irish Cousin who was meeting me with my vehicle. He also had my SIM card sorted, but without it I was unable to call or text him. Thankfully … the Internet. We used email to connect up, and after a rather funny series of missed interactions, we were at last sitting across from one another in an airport cafe. Over coffee we discussed my itinerary. Malachy sent me on my way at approximately half past six in the morning, with little to no driving instruction. Let the adventure begin!

I drove north first to Newgrange, but arrived too early to take the tour. Eerily enough, Hurricane Ali prevented my attempt to revisit the prehistoric monument nine days later. I took this failure as a sign: “Not this time.” I suppose that could be interpreted as a promise to one day return. #Ireland2020

Wicklow Forest National Park

From Newgrange, I took a southwesterly route to Blessington, where I stopped in for breakfast. My Irish oatmeal came with fresh berries at Crafternoon Tea. The shop also sold handmade items – everything from knitted coasters to woolen hats, all as delightful as the food and drink. A narrow less-traveled road led me through County Wicklow. When I reached the National Park, however, the landscape bore little resemblance to a forest. I can only describe it as my idea of an English moor or heath.

Beautiful ground covers in lavender, bright green, and pale yellow swept across the rolling hills. When trees finally did appear, they struck me as an afterthought rather than a theme. I wondered at the culture that would call this stark land a forest. Random sheep grazed along the hillsides, but contrary to the many warnings I received, I never experienced a crossing.

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The color on the sheep means nothing … the location of the paint identifies its owner.

The Ruins of Glendalough

I could not have imagined, much less predicted, the mesmerizing effect that Glendalough would have on me. Its charms left no wonder as to why St. Kevin chose this particular area as his place of solitude. The peaceful, majestic woods gave reason enough for the existence of the ruins of the monastic settlement, but I found the remains of the ancient stone structures as compelling as the natural beauty of the Valley of Two Lakes.

Glendalough’s monastic city grew out of the settlement founded by St. Kevin in the 6th century. Surviving structures today date back to the 10th and 12th centuries.

“Despite attacks by Vikings over the years, Glendalough thrived as one of Ireland’s great ecclesiastical foundations and schools of learning until the Normans destroyed the monastery in 1214 A.D. and the dioceses of Glendalough and Dublin were united.”

~ www.VisitWicklow.ie

I strolled the Green Road Walk all that drizzly afternoon, taking time to wander into the shops surrounding the visitor’s center. My favorite photo would have to be the house I spied sitting up on a hill across a little stream.

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One of my more insightful friends asked if this is where the Faeries live. Indeed.

From Glendalough, I made my way to New Ross where I enjoyed a meal of vegetable soup and Irish brown bread overlooking a replica of the Dunbrody Famine Ship.

According to Wikipedia, “The Great Famine of Ireland during the 1840s saw a significant number of people flee from the island to all over the world. Between 1841 and 1851, as a result of death and mass emigration (mainly to Great Britain and North America), Ireland’s population fell by over 2 million. Robert E. Kennedy explains, however, that the common argument of the mass emigration from Ireland being a ‘flight from famine’ is not entirely correct: firstly, the Irish had been coming to build canals in Great Britain since the 18th century, and once conditions were better, emigration did not slow down. After the famine was over, the four following years produced more emigrants than during the four years of the blight. Kennedy argues that the famine was considered the final straw to convince people to move and that there were several other factors in the decision making.”

Winding country lanes led me to my first AirBnB – a dairy farm in Ramsgrange, near the border between County Kilkenny and County Wexford. Somehow I never spotted Phil and Shirley’s cows, but that did not stop me enjoying their (raw) milk in my morning tea. Phil and I shared breakfast the next morning, and he sent me off with a couple of apples picked fresh from the trees you see in the photo above (left). Irish hospitality at its best!

Wexford Town

I spent the morning of Day 2 walking the streets of Wexford Town. There I found an embroidery shop where I had my grand daughter’s name etched into the belly of a lamb. I spent a good hour or more in a Birkenstock store conversing with the shop owner about everything from divorce to the rewards and difficulties of running a small business in Ireland. It might have been uncanny how easily she and I got on, except I’ve gotten used to meeting kindred spirits along my path. Happens to me all the time.

Street performers were pretty common in the shopping districts.

Kilmore Quay

A visit to the Ballyteigue Burrow Nature Reserve made for an excellent afternoon. The green tract in the photo on the left follows the coastline, then makes a loop back to the harbor for about a 4 kilometer hike.

The views along the way were stunning.

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Hook Head

Shirley had recommended I visit Hook Lighthouse and Loftus Hall, so those were my final destinations for day 2. The lighthouse was amazing, but I missed the tour of the most haunted house in all of Ireland by about 30 minutes.

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A Templar monastic ruin in Templetown on the Hook Peninsula:

During the first few days of my journey, I delighted in traveling the back roads for scenery such as this. But as I neared the end of week one, the stress of driving on the left, along roads almost too narrow for two vehicles to pass, finally lured me back onto Ireland’s main thoroughfares, but already the breathtaking beauty and variety that is Ireland’s southeast had stolen my heart.

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Paperback Writer

For a long time I have known something about myself: I am really good at starting things, but finishing them? Not so much. A friend recently reminded me that this is but one mark of a Pisces. Imagine my surprise when, on May 29, 2018, the paperback version of my book went live on Amazon. That’s right! I actually succeeded in beginning and finishing a full-length novel. Wow! I have not completely wrapped my brain around this yet, but I’m gonna give it my best shot.

The thing is, I am not exactly sure how to get my brain around the completion of something I began almost four years ago. I should be ecstatic – and I am, don’t get me wrong! But there is also the very distinct question of ‘what’s next?’ banging around in my head right now. I mean, I spent almost every waking moment for the past several YEARS thinking about and writing the book that I wanted to read. And when I wasn’t consciously thinking about it, I could hear it whispering in the back of my mind, “Git ‘er done!” I did that. Now what?

Let’s see … I have several Tarot books I’ve been meaning to read, Wisdom of Sundays by Oprah Winfrey, and two travel books on Ireland to tackle before my trip in September. There are several metaphysical books gathering dust on my shelf, oh, and one incredible poetry book by Ra Avis that I have been meaning to get to. The hardest thing about writing was not feeling like I had time to read much of anything (or feeling a bit guilty when I did take the time). I still did read – a lot – seeing as it’s so difficult for me to not be in the middle of five or ten books at one time. I worked my way through everything that Patrick Rothfuss has published (Rothruss is by far THE best fantasy writer I have ever read, and I am not kidding even one little bit), The Four Agreements, two of Joe Dispenza’s books, one by Eckhart Tolle, Inner Engineering, another book on meditation and one on yoga, some things I reviewed right here on this blog, and a handful of novels that I listened to on CD (written by Sanderson, JRR Martin, and Mark Lawrence, all excellent writers of high fantasy). Now I am looking forward to finally knocking out the twenty or so more books that have been calling for my attention. I won’t be writing one anymore, at least for a little while.

If you are at all inclined to read fantasy fiction, check out my first novel. Honest reviews are appreciated, of course (although, if you really hate it, I would appreciate that feedback to come to me personally before it’s posted on Amazon – maybe let me catch my breath before flogging me publicly. 😉 ). Please feel free to email me with suggestions or comments about the book at ripplesofinsight@gmail.com. I am always looking to become better at this. Mostly, though, I hope you enjoy your journey into the little world I was privileged to create.

You can find my book

on Amazon.com, in either Kindle or paperback.

Meanwhile, I would love to hear about any new adventures happening in your life. Leave a comment to get the conversation started.

As always, thanks for reading!

Namaste,

C