Ireland – One Hundred Thousand Welcomes

May the road rise up to meet you.

 

Traveling from Chicago’s O’Hare airport to its miniature equivalent in Shannon Ireland is like stepping into another dimension. While the two airports are polar opposites – finely tuned chaos compared to small-town bustle – it’s the shift in scenery that takes your breath away. Chicago, a major metropolis of towering concrete, percolates with honking horns and harried people. Ireland, on the other hand, embodies peace and lush green beauty.

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Trinity Library in Dublin

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Walking into the long room of the old Trinity library is like stepping into a Harry Potter Movie. In fact, many people believe the scenes in Hogwarts library were filmed at Trinity,  but it was actually the Bodleian at Oxford University.

My mother and I were visiting Trinity Library to see the Book of Kells, a famous illuminated manuscript from the year 800 A.D. As we made our way to the display area, so did about a thousand other people and we felt like we’d been dropped in the middle of a K Mart on black Friday.  We managed to get a cursory glimpse at the famous book, before deciding we’d had enough.  After extricating ourselves from the mob, we made our way upstairs where it was quieter and where I’d been told there was a nice library.

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The Haunting Beauty of ClonMacnoise

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Clon Macnoise on the River Shannon

There was an other worldly presence here, and I felt goosebumps rise on my arms.

It was hard to believe I was in Ireland.  This was a trip I’d dreamed of for years and now I could hardly close my eyes for fear of missing something. As I became acquainted with the Irish countryside, sugar-coated images of thatched cottages and leprechauns fled before the splendor of the real thing. Here, velvet blue skies flanked rolling green hills, ancient stone buildings hovered on every horizon, and age-old rock walls snaked across the fields.
I had expected, the scenery in Ireland to be fascinating, but was pleasantly surprised to learn the same could be said of its history. Especially in places like St. Ciaran’s Monastery at Clonmacnoise.

This was an Unusual Place 

Clonmacnoise is in Southern Ireland, in County Offaly, and though it’s a little out of the way, it’s well worth the extra effort. As we passed through the front gates it was immediately clear this was an unusual place. There was an other-worldly presence here.  Something almost palpable hung like a mist in the air, and I felt goose bumps rise on my arms. Continue reading

National Library of Ireland

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Is this a beautiful Library or what?  Like Trinity, the National Library of Ireland is also located in Dublin, so this city is the lucky host of two cool libraries.

Established in 1877, this is a research library rather than a lending library, and it holds a large quantity of Irish and Irish-related material which can be consulted without charge.

There’s a quiet air of study and concentration here and I didn’t feel we should wander around and disturb people, so we just stuck our heads in and ogled this breathtaking space. Also took a couple of pictures.

If you’re in the neighborhood, check it out!

National Library of Ireland

By YvonneM – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,