Good and Bad Times in Ireland

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Our trip to Ireland this July was my 6th.  Every one of my stays has been full of wonder, discovery, beauty and love. This particular journey was prompted by our daughter and son-in-law deciding to have their wedding by a castle ruin on a cliff near the sea. And it was magical. It would be easy to remember and to describe all the fun, heart filling and picture perfect moments of this trip as I did to all my friends upon return and as I did after each of the previous trips but I have decided to try an experiment since See Double is about trying new ways to combine text and image, create story and art. I am going to do the unexpected, at least for me, and describe some of the events over the past that were awful.

It was midnight, pitch dark in rural Ireland and I was lost. Hoping to retrace my steps I was turning our rental car around and smashed into a stone wall. The rear lights were toast and I saw the cost of my next plane ticket to Ireland fly out the window. We were never charged and that is a good story about the car rental company.

In daylight, I was backing up again, and on a different trip, and fell off the road into a ditch full of water. The road was 3’ wide and the ditch looked like a grassy shoulder. Larry and I walked around the car but there was no way to drive it out. The chassis rested on the ground. We were headed to drive through one of my all time favorite valleys alongside the Twelve Bens but it would be hours before we got a tow out to us. We were as usual out in the middle of nowhere. A minute later a van and a car came around the bend toward us. Eight people between them. Family up for a visit, you know, and they offered to help. All together we just lifted the car up onto the road. The day was misty but as we drove next to the mountains with their tops in the clouds we still oohed and ahhed. Larry said there’s nothing like averting disaster to make the rest of the day seem like a dream. I am also banned from backing up in Ireland.

Twice travel snafus and plane delays have caused family members to arrive late to the gathering. The first time occurred before cell phones and I was worried to tears because I thought they could be dead in a ditch. (A theme.) We were staying in a remote rental without a phone and it was 24 hours before my daughter could get in touch with our landlady who then had to drive over to tell us what had happened and that they were alive! The second time, this time, beloved participants missed the wedding altogether.

Our daughter Sarah is an animal lover and protector. At another weekly house rental set in the countryside outside of Clifden, she and the landlady’s small dog who lived nearby befriended each other. Sarah was 8 and carried the fluffy pup around in her arms as she played outside. Near the end of the week while Sarah and her new friend were romping, a large dog from another farm house nearby, and one that was probably used to chasing small, moving targets for sport and meals, wandered into the yard and gave Sarah’s pet a quick shake and killed it. Sarah brought it to us in her arms then took it to the landlady’s door and told her what happened.

I don’t have photos of these events and the others like them. I kind of wish I did but they are indelibly printed in my memory and when I think of them, they still break my heart a little, partly because I remember how I felt then and partly because of how we survived them.

Below is a photo of me from 2013 at the summit of Diamond Hill with some of the 12 Bens behind me. I waited for a sunny day to hike. The other picture is a landscape of my adored valley of the 12 Bens by artist Alan Kenny.

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