Well, the vote's in. Ireland is my favourite country that I have ever been to, now and forever. Well, second, as obviously Canada would be my favourite, being a good Canadian. But, if we were going to leave patriotism out of it, Ireland would win, Hands down.
Disclaimer: I may be a little biased, as we have great family in Northern Ireland that are always great fun, and that spoil us rotten. But, I don't think I am. Ireland's landscape and people are enough to win anyone over, probably within hours of arriving.
We rented what was supposed to be a 'Ka' (very very small, manual car) on Sunday and were to head up the coast. We (well I, Kristen) was a little worried about Jonathan driving a manual, on the wrong side of the road. Individually the challenges seemed manageable, but combined....they sounded a little bit like trying to leave ireland without being bought a round of Guinness: not likely to succeed. However a little mix up with the rental people and we were off with a MASSIVE (like, we should have brought the neighbours and picked up those hitch hikers to make it worth it) Subaru station wagon, with a tendancy to devour gas, with an automatic transmission. Ok.
Northern Ireland, even though I have been here before, still surprizes me with its beauty. We stopped at the Glens of Antrim for a hike, then continued to the Giants Causeway with its octagonal rocks. We stayed in Port Stewart a little holiday town in which the locals cruise up and down the main street Sunday nights. Even Clifton Hill antics are more charming on the island!
The next morning we crossed the border into the Republic of Ireland, county Donegal. Uncharted territory. I, of course, want Jonathan to take every windy, narrow, cliff hanging, brush-scratching the side of the rental, Atlantic view road we come across. But, it is well worth it. Donegal is the 'forgotten' county. Attached to the rest of Ireland by about a 10 km stretch of land. It is rugged and wild, and steep. The first cliff on my itinerary is Horn Head. We drive a windy road to a parking lot and walk the rest of the way out to the (very) windy cliff's edge. You can see along the jaggedy coast for kms and kms! And if you look really hard, on a clear day, you can see Newfoundland! Lol. Thats a lie! Did you believe me? Anyways, its beautiful! And most other tourists are pretty whimpy, so we are the only ones at the tip of Ireland!
The next day we meet a hand weaver in Ardara and he shows, explains and demonstrates for us his loom! Turning local sheeps wool into hand woven tweeds and scarves! Actually, not this weaver, but the one up the street exports his sweaters to Niagara on the Lake! If we'd known that... Jonathan is in his glory, as I'm sure those who know him can imagine. The weaver, quite famous in his circle, probably thinks we are a little off the rocker. Crazy Canadians coming all the way over here asking 5 million questions about the loom and how it works and how the 1500 treads are individually run through their respective holes. Now you are wondering what these 'treads' are, and so were we. The guy is looking at us like we are from Mars. 'The Treads!!' 'What?' 'Treads!' Oh, Right. The 'th' is lost in Ireland. The THREADS! lol Awkward......
We continue (and I am skipping a lot of stunning landscape and seascape along the way) to Slieve League. These are the highest marine cliffs in Europe! The road up is closed off by a gate, which you are supposed to open yourself. I think its a subconcious warning. You, YOURSELF has chosen to drive up this crazy steep road and we hold no responsibility for the one-lane width when you are passing another car on a 90 degree angle on the edge of this cliff, nor do we take any responsibility for the indignant sheep who 'baaaaaaa' and take long, sheep-ish looks at you when you expect them to move out of the way of your car. Our car, as you can maybe imagine isn't meant for these roads, or vise-versa. The sign said trailers were to park in the lower lot.. that probably meant us.
We get to the top. No sheep down, no cars down. Then, we climb up, and up and up. From here, the tallest, sheer-ist drop is 600 m you can see 3/4 of Ireland, on a clear day, which we miracloulsy (i really can't spell) have! Its quite windy near the edges and can be quite dangerous, we had been warned. We were able to climb right to the edge (almost) though, because of the beautiful weather! I can imagine on a windy day though how crazy it would be up here! There is quite a bit of sheep poo around. If the sheep can hold thier own, so could we! The ocean is so far down that it almost looks calm, and you can't even hear the waves rolling into the cliffs from way up here! I may have taken a few pictures!
We head to Donegal town for the grand finale: a night couch surfing with a Donegal local! As soon as Robbie discovers that we haven't yet had a pint of Guinness, its straight down to the pub to remedy the tragedy. Needless to say, 'a' pint quickly turned into two, which somehow became three and suddenly I knew all the words to the Irish folk songs I had never heard before! Which, is where the title of the blog comes from. A handy little song about a wee Irish gal (for the sake of this story) who had lost Uncle Dan! This seemed quite convienent, as I can imagine myself losing Uncle Dan somewhere...and singing this song about it... probably in a similar type of bar, with a similar number of drinks involved. I'll get all the words right and sing a round for everyone when I get home! (If knowing the words isn't contingent with the drinking of Guinness, because I would say I'd had quite enough, and really, I don't think it travels well). There was dancing and singing and Irish tales of evil faries inhabiting thick bushy Fairy Trees and all the mischief the faries caused the poor Donegal locals. It was the perfect last night for our short visit to the Republic, mostly thanks to Robbie and the friendly pub crowd.
Belfast has been very busy with Jonathan's Nanny and Pappy moving house, and his cousins Allison and Ed over for a visit from Britain. Its great to be able to hang out with the family and be a little help with all the moving! Tomorrow (Friday) we are going to a BBQ at David and Holli's place, which will be a great send-off for our Saturday morning flight home! Its really wonderful to be here, but we are also quite excited to come home! Especially with the new baby making an appearance in the next couple days!! (We really hope, atleast, for Nikki's sake)
Hopefully we will be able to catch up with everyone soon! Wish us a safe flight back across the Atlantic! Hey, maybe they will be playing the 'Sex and the City' movie.... right.