Last year I twisted my ankle on the first day I was in Galway, Ireland. I was scheduled to climb Croag Patrick (see pic below) the next morning, but when I put my foot down to stand up, I knew my plans would have to change. I would not be climbing mountains any time soon.
Big disapointment, yes. End of the world? No. I was in Ireland, and there are NO bad days in Ireland, twisted ankle or not.
So I adjusted my plans and spent the day hobbling about the streets of Galway, taking a ferry out to the Aran Islands, and taking pictures of the sheep who so graciously give up their coats to make the beautiful Aran sweaters everyone loves. I still ended up climbing up a few hills and over the rocky Burren....even strolled through open farmland.
Now back to my opening statement - everything happens for a reason.
That night I sought out a pub that was said to have the best Irish music in town. I got there early and found a great spot at the bar, right below the suspended stage. My toes were itching to tap, I didn't want to miss one minute of Irish culture, and local pubs are one of the best places to be doused. As I was waiting to be noticed by the barmaid, an arm shot out next to me to collect two beers that were sitting on the bar. I must have made a face (I had been sitting there waiting for quite some time) and suddenly I heard the voice next to me (in a sweet Irish lilt) "Oh apologies...did I jump ahead of you?"
I turned and found myself looking at the smiling face of an Irishman. Adorable. That was my first thought. This guy is absolutely adorable. Young, fresh and with manners. And he was obviously concerned that I hadn't been waited on, so he said "No worries...I'll take care of that straight away."...and he did.
That was my first introduction to Daniel and Peter, two young Irishmen from Belfast, who were on holiday in Galway. They invited me to join them at their table and the rest is history. We spent the next few days tooling around the streets of Galway, enjoying the people watching and having an overall great time. Through their colorful stories, I learned much about the culture of Northern Ireland, an area of I really had very little knowledge of, apart from the "Troubles" of the 60's and 70's.
That was a year ago, and since then, through the age of modern social media, we've become fast friends. Which is why, when they invited me to visit their beautiful country (Northern Ireland is still considered Ireland, but is a part of the United Kingdom) - I enthusiastically agreed.
So today I journey to Ireland, and will land in Dublin, where they will "collect" me, and we will drive back up to Belfast. In looking at the map of Ireland, this should be a beautiful drive. And a wonderful chance for us to catch up on a year of activity in all of our lives. Once in Belfast, we will spend the next few days exploring this beautiful area. In Daniel's words -
". . . we will visit Dunluce castle and take a Bushmills whiskey tour as they are in the same area. The Titanic museum perhaps? It's 10 minutes away as it's the city centre. You might like to tour the jail used during the troubles. Crumlin road Gaol it's called. Some hikes I thought you might like are Cave HIll or the Mourne Mountains in Co. Down. Giant's Causeway and Cerrick A Rede rope bridge for sure. And of course a night out with live Irish music in Belfast. ...."
I will also have the absolute honor to visit Daniel's parents on their farm in Co. Sligo, which is in the Republic of Ireland. According to Daniel, his father is quite the historian on the troubles of Ireland.
I am sure there is nothing better than seeing Ireland through Irish eyes.
My journey will then take me, finally, to the mountain I was going to climb last year. I'll bus on my own to Co. Mayo where I will spend a few days, and it's there I will hopefully, finally check this mountain climb off my bucket list.
From there I will head back to Dublin, where I will get to spend a few days with my dear friend Nancy, her husband Finbarr, and their son Tadhg. I've not seen them in a few years so I'm really looking forward to that reunion. Nancy and I've been known to hit a few pubs together and I doubt this trip will be any exception.
So yes, things happen for a reason. If I had not twisted my ankle that first day in Ireland, I would never have met Daniel and Peter. So, as they say in Ireland..."And there you go, Bob's your uncle." (meaning, there you have it.)
I'll be blogging along the way over the next week or so, and I'll hope you join me. I'll do my best to take you right along on the journey through words and pictures.
|Cerrick-a-rede rope bridge|
|Peter and Daniel|