Saturday, 4 July 2009

Ireland!!

I love this beautiful green GREEN city filled with warm hospitable people. Irealand is the home of great literary figures Joyce, Beckett, Yeats, CS Lewis and even singing sensations Bono and U2! I was here for the wedding of my Singaporean friend Vivian Loo who married Irish James in his hometown in West Cork.

Drove down from Dublin all the way southwest, over 300-kms with fellow Asians Sarah, Winnie and Ngan (correction, Asian-Americans except for Winnie who's Thai-Shanghai raised in Singapore and married to an American-Hongkongnese). First stop was the 19th century Kilhaiman Gaol in Dublin, a prison where the leaders of the "Easter Rising" of 1916 were executed (i.e. rebellion staged to end British rule). The place was eerie and reminded me of Alcatraz.

Did you know that there are about 2,000 castles in Ireland? We drove all the way down to Kilkenny to see the 13th-century Castle and to lunch. Then down to the second largest city in Ireland-- Cork, for dinner and a stop in the pub for some stout (my fav is now Murphys!!!); and finally to Clonakility where we were billeted.

The drive was well worth it! Driving is the only way to see the colorful towns with their doros, windows and walls painted in bold red, purples green, etc. and healthy cows grazing on lush lush greenery. Warning though - driving is on the wrong side of the road. I had fun driving from Kilkeny to Cork at 140-160kph on the M8-N8 motorway and mind you, that fast on a rented-toyota! Its quite safe to speed up despite its two-lane motorway and narrow, winding single-lane roads.

The wedding took place at historical St. Fachtna Church in Rosscarbury.The guests were mostly family, neighbors and schoolmates. The uncle of James officiated the wedding and the reception was in the top-end Indochyndon resort overlooking Clonakility Bay. I can't believe the stamina of the Irish. We left past 3am where the groom's 71-year old dad was still dancing!! There were two "bands". First a one-man "band" playing mostly country music, waltzes and the second, a 3-man band (guitar, banjo, accordion) playing traditional irish and ceili music. I had fun dancing the Seige of Ennis, two pairs in one line moving down. The alcohol was flowing until the wee hours and lots of food! After dinner, we were served a snack at 11ish which consisted of fries, sausages, sandwiches and the infamous black pie!

The next day we did more sights near Cork County like Blarney Castle where we braved kissing the stone at 90-ft (left photo, view from top), suspended upside down. Unfortunately, I found out later on that Trip Advisor named the Blarney Stone as the "world’s germiest" tourist attraction. About 400,000 tourists kiss the stone each year hoping to receive the gift of gab which the Irish are famous for! Trip Advisor likened kissing the stone to "smooching a petri dish full of unfanciful delights". Oh well, at least I found out later on, after the attempt and I'm alright.

Here's an Irish "hello" to everyone May the road rise to meet you: < video

No comments: