In 2005 we spent a winter in Ireland. We stayed for four months on a farm in the “sunny southeast” section of the country. The farm was on a narrow lane about four kilometers long. My favorite spot along the road was a centuries-old Irish castle that had been converted into a barn. One old lonely horse lived there. I loved that scene and stopped many times to photograph it. In looking at my pictures of the road and the castle-barn just now I was transported to that narrow lane and reminded of the lovely winter and spring we spent in Ireland. I’m making plans to return soon.
We lived on the road that President Kennedy’s great-grandfather left when he immigrated to America. Distant cousins of the president still live on the family farm and they open it to tourists on occasion. Sometimes we encountered large motor coaches taking people to that farm on the single-lane road. When that happened we would need to get out of the way – the bus wasn’t budging! Backing up on that road wasn’t always without peril, as other farmers in the area often came careening around a curve in their trucks or — even worse! — on their big blue tractors. We laughed the day a speed limit sign was installed in front of our house that limited traffic to 80 kilometers an hour — 50 mph!
Our farm was midway between the Kennedy farm and the John F. Kennedy Arboretum. Fifty years ago the nation of Ireland honored our president by creating a sanctuary and inviting countries from all over the world to contribute their special trees. A circular path in the park leads through a grove of eucalyptus trees, a large collection of spectacular rhododenrons and many other glorious, now mature specimens.
All this was near the 700+ year old town of New Ross. Visitors to the town can board the Dunbrody, a replica of the ship that carried the Kennedy ancestors and many others from Ireland to America. Being on that ship, imagining the conditions endured during a month-long crossing of the Atlantic, caused this American to be in awe of her own ancestors who made that journey. What agonies they endured for a better life! How lucky we are that they did.
Here’s a good place to begin learning about the “sunny” southeast of Ireland: http://www.southeastireland.com/
New Ross is in County Wexford, Ireland. Here’s a link to the local tourism site: http://www.visitwexford.ie/
Read about the ship Dunbrody here: http://www.dunbrody.com/