Embracing the Irish invasion

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Wednesday, March 12, 2014

IT IS no coincidence that I’m listening to Bono’s song as I sit through a long flight to the west coast, realizing that our spring vacation to Ireland was like a homecoming, for some strange reason. It was spring and as I reminisce about it, here’s where my thoughts drifted...

My husband swears he feels a certain obscure, intangible connection to Ireland (a statement that I make with no iota of disrespect to the love affair I have with Italy).

When you step out of the airport, there’s no mistaking where you are. The endless stretches of green pastures greet you. What followed at the rental car place was a comedy of indescribable proportion.


Picture this: six adults with six pieces of luggage and four golf bags trying to fit in a trusty Ford Galaxy. Human Tetris?

Somewhat. Something that would have been so illegal in the States! We did manage, albeit some compromised circulation and resorted to doing yoga-like positions for the rest of the ride, but it didn’t matter. We were ready to start our Irish adventure...(the revisited edition).

Our destination was Adare. A tiny, quaint village in County Limerick. It was lovely and the polar opposite of the hustle and bustle of living in the metropolis of Washington DC. On our second day, we felt like locals already. Stopping at all the shops and cafes, we practically tasted all the Irish brown soda bread in the entire village. Aunty Lena’s (a favorite pub among the locals) served one of the tastiest soda breads I have ever had (I give reverence to bread wherever I go).

It’s funny how I look at Ireland a little differently now. We had seen all the tourist spots in the past, so we skipped places that are certainly worth mentioning that one must visit – St. Patrick’s Cathedral and the St. James’s Gate Brewery.

Skipping the latter meant missing the opportunity for a free pint of Guinness (just a note to the wise and those legally allowed to drink). A day in Dublin is still a must, nevertheless, so we strolled along Temple Bar and became Dubliners for a brief moment, which meant gracefully surviving a windy and wet day and laughing through it in the middle of rush hour.

There are local favorites I affectionately refer to as “Irish comfort food” – at Leo Burdock’s you can have traditional fish and chips and Murphy’s ice cream - an indulgence that brings you back to your childhood happy place. Their flavors are uniquely Ireland - sea salt, Irish brown bread and Guinness of course, are highly recommended. Pardon my self-gratifying rant.

The golfers are surely going to frown on this, as my chronicle on golf is kept to a minimum, except to say that if it were up to my husband, the short list of “must play” courses includes: Ballybunion (Old Course and Cashen Course), Lahinch Golf Club and Tralee Golf Club. I can hear the golfers now agreeing in unison.

As we culminated our trip, we decided to drive through the scenic route, heading to the Cliffs of Moher. So like the stooges, we all squeezed in again in our small SUV and managed to keep all limbs in the vehicle. As we drove through sharp turns and tricky roundabouts, we marveled at the sights of the Irish countryside, that included cows crossing that put both automobile and foot traffic on standstill. It was truly a lovely sight, notwithstanding some bouts of near motion sickness for some. What with no clear lanes and a free-to-your-own-interpretation speed limit...And so we made it to County Clare... The Cliffs of Moher is a hypnotizing wonder that makes you feel so small in this vast universe. Its existence is the pure definition of “wow.”

So there goes another episode of our Irish getaway. There’s no sad parting. We have adopted her warm, salt-of-the-earth nature. And she, in turn, has welcomed us time and again, like her own.

As we were hauling our luggage to the airport, we saw this big green sign saying, “We can’t wait to see you.”

As we raise our pint of Guinness, we say, “Hey Ireland, right back at you!”(Claire Benette D. Herrera)

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 13, 2014.


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