This week I've had all seasons. Sunlight strong enough to make your eyes sting, hail to make you cuse and of course, there is the lingering chill of the European winter. But the rain usually only comes in short burst, still giving you a chance to explore this beautiful country if your not the one to brave the rain.
This week, we started in Killarney, the heart and soul of my Irish series. It was so amazing to finally explore the town my characters were born in and in many cases, meet the characters themselves. Writing fiction can bring some magical suprises. The imaginary world can sometimes take form in real life, some times in full and other times in peices.
Whilst in Killarney, the locals reminded me of my beloved characters, the beautiful Irish Cobs I rode through the national park of the equines that star in my novels and the properties and places I created and researched finally appearing before me. The winding driveway to a row of stone stables, a great house with a Georgian air, stone walls and bursting rivers.
To see it all come alive really made my stay in Killarney special. To know that despite the fact that my novels are fiction, that parts of it actually exist. And I think I owe it all to the magic of Ireland.
In Killarney, I went for an exhilarating horse ride through the national park, hung out and sang along with the locals at The Killarney Grand and explored the National park on foot and from the seat of a jaunting car comandeered by a cheeky Jarvey who was happy to giving me a driving lesson.
Here's me having a whirl, taking the reins of the jaunting car:
And a picture of Ross Castle:
Me astride Clyde, a beautiful Irish Cob cross:
And me with the barn cat at Killarney Stables which reminded me of the cat that stars in my first novel, 'What Happens in Ireland':
After beautiful Killarney, it was onward to Galway, a city well-known for it's great musicians and traditional music. As a result, Galway's night life was bustling, the bars filled to capacity. Galway isn't Dublin, but it certainly has it's own character and delights to offer.
In Galway, I visited the Hall of the Red Earl, the Galway Muesum and Galway Castle which has been sadly adapted into a bank and brought a new claddagh ring. It's said to be lucky to buy a claddagh and wear it in Galway, the place of Origin of the rings and the legends about the rings themselves. And I have to say, I do think I did have some luck in Galway, because the next day we we're blessed with a beautiful, sunny trip to the Cliffs of Moher.
The cliffs were amazing. You really can not comprehend the height of the cliffs, but heres a photo just to give you a little incentive to experience their magnificence for yourself:
Whilst in Galway, we also visited a traditional farm located in the Burren Valley. The valley was amazing and looking at the rocky mountains that surround the fertile land, it's difficult to believe that the mountains themselves are some of the most flourishing areas to flour in the spring.
From Galway, we travelled North, to Belfast. Now, I won't go into the history of the city myself, but if you ever do get the chance to visit Belfast, please do so yourself through a black taxi tour. The guides were born and breed in Belfast during the 1970's and 1960's and will give you a personal outlook on the situation between the Protestants and Catholics. The difficulty of keeping the peace here is a really hard thing to comprehend for someone like me. I can't see how two groups can not live in proximity of each other, accepting the differences between them. But again, Belfast is not my home and I think that's were it all stems from. You're not supposed to understand or take a side. You can only hope that one day, theses people will learn to trust each other again and put the past aside in order for them to move forward together.
The memorials here are extravagant, the wall dividing the Protestant communities from the Catholic communities covered in graffity. The Black Taxi tours really are a great way to get an insight into the war that has been going on in Belfast for the last 50 years.
Here's a picture of the Peace Wall:
On a lighter note, this morning I woke to a wonderful surprise. Overnight, the snow had fallen and I found myself out on the sidewalk in my socks, just to get a photo of the beautiful buildings and streets which had been transformed by the snow. What a sight to wake to!
Later on it was onto the Titanic Experience (Museum), where you will find yourself spending hours in with all the information provided. Now, I'm back in my cosy hostel, about to get ready to spend my last night in Ireland. I'm tempted to cancel my trip to Scotland and England after that. But the fact that I will be coming back keeps me going. I'm going to miss Ireland, but I'm sure there is more magic to find in Scotland and England. And of course, Ireland will be right where I left it and I won't make the mistake on giving myself so little time.
Until next week!