The thing that struck Mom and I the most about Ireland was the vegetation. They don't call it the Emerald Island because it's made of green jewels. They call it that because of the lush greenery that sprouts out of everything from a plain old dirt ground to an iron manhole cover. Plants that we nurture and baby here as house plants just grow wild on the side of the road there. We spent most of our time there pointing at flower pots and trees and Jurassic sized ferns. I took pictures of one four things while I was there: sheep, old churches, cemeteries and plants. Actually...I have a lot of pictures of flowers. A lot.
But dang! They were so pretty.
Our favorite day had to be the day we messed up the Ring of Kerry and ended up back in Killarney. We decided to stop and see Muckross Abbey before heading into the town for lunch. A man approached us as we got out of our car and asked us if we'd like to take a "jaunty cart" tour of the area. My first inclination was to say "no" because I figured we'd be falling for some kind of tourist trap, but as he told us all the places we'd see, I said "yes! Yes, let's do that!". He helped us up onto our side of the buggy, gave us a plaid blanket for our knees, hopped up onto the opposite side of the buggy and off we went trotting down the lane with the wind in our hair. As we approached Muckross House, I couldn't shake the feeling that we were arriving for a ball except our clothes were all wrong.
Our guide was the stoic type, but he was sure to point out all of the appropriate sites along with some historic tidbits. He was also really good about answering every question I asked him. The Lakes of Killarney are dotted with little islands. I know that if I were a kid growing up on the lakes there, I would have spent whole summers exploring those islands, building forts and camping out. I was pleased to see the twinkle in our guide's eye when I asked him if he'd been on any of the islands. He replied simply with an "aye" and a mischievous smile.
He may have been a man of few words, but he did recognize that he was carting around two women who were enamored with all the vegetation. He pointed out several elms that he claimed to be 400 years old and yew trees. He told us how the monks purposefully built their abbey around an ancient yew tree. The abbey is in ruins, but that tree still stands strong and true. Mom and I both were like "Oh...that's what a yew tree looks like!". He stopped at Muckross House and made us get off the cart to walk around the flower gardens in the back. We could have spent hours out there studying all the different varieties of dahlias.
If you had told me five years ago that I would go to Ireland and fall in love with all the plants I would have said "Phsha..pour me another Guinness.". But that's exactly what happened. I fell for the lush green leaves, the ferns, the soft squishy moss, all of it. It was like walking inside a terrarium and the beauty of it stole our voices.
Happy Love Thursday.
P.S. You can see more of my pictures from Killarney here.