Hello, IRELAND!! I have wanted to visit this land of my heritage ever since I was a young girl! In the early 90s, I had three different flight layovers at Shannon airport when I visited Russia and Ukraine; but I never got to exit the airport and explore the multi-hued green squares of land I saw from the airplanes (I did ask for a souvenir visa stamp in my passport, though). Seeing those squares of green in real life made me long all the more to visit. I was thoroughly excited to be able to spend eight nights in the land this past October, and now you will be bombarded with plenty of photos. No land photos, though; every time I took a landscape photo, I did so from a moving train…which means that the photos were blurry. Still, hello artistic delights of Ireland as noted by Colleen Callahan (Sharpe)!
First up, this cute little cafe! One of the fun things about travelling without a whole lot of agenda items is the ability to spot serendipitous moments. My husband and I were riding a Dublin bus back to our airbnb place one early evening, when the bus stopped for a red light. I looked to my left, spotted this little cafe all painted green inside and out and adorned with a sign that read “Irish Potato Cake Company,” and said, “We need to go into that place!” We jumped from our bus seats and ran off the bus just before the driver accelerated again. We parked ourselves at a little table by a brick wall covered in photos and memorabilia, and looked at the menu. We each ordered a bowl of Irish stew (much like the beef stew I ate as a child) and a plate of Irish potato cakes. When our dishes arrived at the table, mmmmm…oh my. We relished every single bite. And I, of course, could not stop looking around at all the visual feasts all over this tiny space on a busy Dublin street!! I mean, look at the huge green painted pipe on the ceiling: all green with painted white daisies on it. And the pretty vintage lampshade, with little cards clothespinned to the edge. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience in this little space.
One of the great experiences of being in Europe for a few weeks is the ability to use Eurail passes. We took the trains to as many towns as we could without exhausting ourselves. The trains are really comfortable for travel, esp. when one can snag a seat section with a table on which to spread out food, laptops, books, paper and pens, or knitting. One day we took a train to Cork City, and made a stop in the town of Mallow. It’s also fun to get off the train in random towns and be able to explore sites nearby. This wood door with geometrically cut pieces put together with (likely) iron bars caught my eye. It was attached to the Mallow Castle, which was one of the many partially or mostly ruined castles strewn across the country. Because the castle was in ruins, we couldn’t explore the inside, but we enjoyed walking around it and trying to peer in through wire mesh openings.
On another day, we took a train to the town of Athlone which was on the route to Galway. I had wanted to see the River Shannon and a small art gallery. I was pleasantly surprised to see that many storefronts in the town were so colourfully painted! We have a few towns like this in Nova Scotia, but I think we need more. 🙂 Anyway, we strolled through the town; poking in and out of shops, crossing the bridge over the river, and exploring the art of the little gallery. A beautiful cathedral and a castle were also situated in the town.
On our last day in Europe, I struck out on my own to explore a few sites in Dublin. One of them was the National Gallery of Ireland. The following five photos show you some of my favourite displays in the gallery. The photo captions should be self-explanatory (but ask questions in the comments, if you like!). Again, I was all about pattern and colour!
Swoon…stained glass! I saw beautiful stained glass windows in various parts of Europe – here is just one example! Look at those florals!
Be still, my heart…I absolutely adored this jacket. It was paired with a vivid green long skirt and the whole effect was simply stunning. The beadwork…what can I say. I have so many photos of this jacket.
And this one.
On another day, we took a train to Kilkenny (on the route to Waterford…love me some Waterford crystal!!) for the day. Art and craft is alive and well in this town! How I loved exploring the Castle Yard with its many shops full of locally-made craft. I also ventured into the Butler House Gardens behind the Yard, and stumbled upon an intricate layout of garden delights! One of them was this little shaded and treed nook that one could almost miss on the walkway. I could have sat down in there and read and wrote away the afternoon. Except that my husband and I lost each other and couldn’t text each other, which is a whole other story…
These next two photos are of the airbnb place we stayed in. Our hostess was a lovely woman who freely offered her kitchen so we could cook meals or at least sit at the table and heat up purchased soups. She was so interesting to chat with, and yet would make herself scarce unless we invited her for a chat. I completely loved that her house was painted pink with white trim – it’s like our kitchen!
Our kitchen with Irish grandmother’s pink dishes:
Back to Ireland…This little garden that is designed to attract bees was along the sidewalk of a very busy road leading out of Dublin centre to the suburb of Donnybrook. Someone had put a lot of care into designing the garden and creating the little houses out of natural materials. I loved seeing this every day when walking.
And that, my friends, is the last installment of my Artistic Delights in Europe series! I hope you have enjoyed the photos of all that caught my eye (not the typical touristy things). Do you have any photos to share, of similar delights? I’d love to see them in the comments!