Morning came early, around 6:45, and it was cold and rather windy. In fact much of Ireland is cold and windy, but somehow even after a horrible winter of no sun in London the patches of sunshine made the cold and wind and damp okay. Sidenote: some Irish consider a heat wave to be about 22ºc (71.6ºf). Crawling out of bed and into an amazing shower (not just because it was early and the show was warm, it was legitimately a really good shower) and munching on the breakfast of toast and cereal provided by the hostel we piled back onto the bus only vaguely remembering what was in store for us for the day.
Our first stop was Dingle aka Dingle An Daingean Uí Chúis (which translates roughly as Dingle Dingle by the sea or so we were told). Dingle is in the far west of Ireland and in one of the Gaeltacht (pronounced gale-talk) or Irish speaking regions of Ireland. Only about 90,000 people fluently speak Irish, the countries official language, despite it being taught in schools. The small fishing port city was quaint and I regret not getting any photos (even when we returned for lunch!) but I blame the rain.
After a brief stop in Dingle we headed out onto the peninsula, an increasingly beautiful and harsh place to live. Though not so harsh as thee Burren to the north, but I’m getting head of myself. The landscape can only be described by words like vibrant, stunning, open, raw, old, lived with instead of lived on. The stark wild energy radiating through the hills and off the crashing waves reminds me of Oregon at its best. Honestly though, pictures are more than words, though I feel anything I was able to capture pales in comparison to reality.
The evening finished in the town of Ennis, where I wandered the streets while the others passed out exhausted before dinner. The town was small and simple but alive and vibrant. Old and new wound in and out of one another building up the city. I found myself wandering down the tiny main street past half-closed buildings (it was half seven at night) and around a few turns, just to see the city, get a feel for it. We hadn’t had much time to really explore any of the cities we’d stopped in and I just wanted to feel the city, walk around and collected its flavour in the back of my mind. Wild and free, full of life and the will to do more than just exist, much of Ireland felt this way to me.
I found myself at dinner with friends I had only made the day before, found myself talking easily and enjoying every moment. At no time did I have the worry and awkward quiet that I usually fall into with new people. I’m not sure if it was being away from home and away from where I lived that gave me confidence or if I’m finally learning to balance quiet and calm with conversation. Maybe it was Ireland and its ancient energy coursing through every fibre of existence.