Our flight from Philadelphia to Ireland took off last night around 9 p.m. Because it was July 3rd, a day before actual Independence Day, I didn’t think I’d see too much in the way of fireworks celebrations, but boy, was I wrong. I counted 49 different bursts in different locations as our flight gained altitude and the lights of the City of Brotherly Love became smaller and smaller in the distance. I’m not a big fireworks fan because they frighten my animals so, but I must admit that seeing them silently bursting all over the vast carpet of city lights and darkness below me was breathtaking. I can’t imagine anyone not feeling at least a little patriotic and fortunate to have such a show of national pride. I wish we, as a nation, felt that united and supportive of the mission of our democracy more often.
We got to Shannon, Ireland around 8:30 after flying all night. Flight sleep is, I have discovered, much like the bus sleep of my younger years when Greyhound was the only way to travel for a high school or college student with serious budgetary limitations. That is to say, we were exhausted when we arrived, but we faced a two hour drive before reaching our hotel in Killarney. Fortunately, Dan was brave enough to take on the challenge of the drive, and we were given (Jean Larsen, are you listening?) a purple Citroen. I was in heaven…until Dan noticed that it had a flat tire. He trudged back to Hertz, who switched the perfect vacation care for a red Kia Soul with a huge scratch up the side, obviously courtesy of another tourist from the States who couldn’t get the hang of that whole ‘drive on the left side’ thing. I certainly understood, and I spent most of the drive reminding Dan that we were way too close on the left to (name any obstacle, real or perceived), trying to avoid looking into the mirrors which made me feel queasy because there weren’t what I expected to see, and silently trying to calculate how many miles an hour 60, 80, and 100 km really is. It’s a wonder we arrived safely to the Killeen House Hotel, a lovely country inn with a firm-but-friendly woman named Geraldine as the proprieter. She allowed us to check in early, and Sarah, one of the girls who works here, brought us a tray of tea and coffee before we took a two hour coma.
Once revived and showered, we headed into Killarney’s town centre, where we learned that the Fourth of July is a really big, honkin’ deal in Ireland. I think there are more celebrations with more passion than there are in the USA. The whole day here was packed with celebrations, including a huge parade with live bands and floats and fireworks at 10:45 p.m. I’d love to watch the fireworks from the comfort of the gazebo in front of the Killeen House Hotel, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be asleep by then again, as I’m already nodding off writing this.
It took us over an hour to find a parking spot for the red-headed woman we’re driving, but then we walked all around town and enjoyed the sights. I didn’t enjoy all the people, but that’s to be expected, and it was surprising to see so many passionately celebrating the USA on this special day. I don’t think people around the world feel such an allegiance.
We grabbed dinner at a seafood place where Dan had fish and chips and I had smoked salmon on a piece of crusty, whole multi-grain bread. It was delicious, and we topped it off by coming back to the Killeen House to enjoy a warm brownie with ice cream and a pot of hot tea. Dan also enjoyed a Guinness as we chatted with Geraldine and Mike the owners, Patrice the server, and Sarah, the lovely young woman who brought us tea and coffee earlier.
Once back to Killeen House Hotel, we stopped at an old church and cemetery (the hotel had once served as the rectory for that church), and we wandered around reading the headstones and thinking about other people’s histories and her-stories. I’d love to say I’ll stay up writing about them all night long, but that’s not going to happen. I’ll probably be asleep in less than an hour, as soon as I go through the day’s photos.
Tomorrow it’s a high to Torc Waterfall and Muckross Abbey, and if we have energy, we’ll start on the Ring of Kerry, but who knows. There is a small bakery we’d like to stop at, too. The great thing is we have no plans and only destinations we need to make at night time. That leaves us open to play and explore and relax, which I need badly, but it also makes me lazy, which I guess isn’t the worst thing in the world for a change, either.
And, if you can believe it, I really do miss my idiot animals. As annoying as they are, they’re my family, and I miss them curling against my back at night, or nudging against me for a cuddle.