Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Big Trip ~ IRELAND!!

I can hardly believe that one month ago today I was standing on the streets of Dublin watching Ben march in the St. Patrick's Day parade.  How has the time gone by so fast?

Yes, we had an amazing time.

Yes, it was beautiful.

No, we weren't ready to come home.

I feel completely blessed that we were able to go on and be part of such an amazing trip.  I am thrilled that Jon and I were able to share this once in a lifetime trip with Ben.

Obviously I can't post all of the pictures on here, so if you want to see more, you can look here.

As soon as we left the airport we hopped on tour buses and began our tour.  Our first stop on the tour was a little fishing town called, Howth.  (Like "both" but with an "H".)

 Our tour guide raved about the fish and chips. and we were thee for lunch, and chips it was!  YUM!!

 Of course, after an entire day of travel, we were all exhausted!  Almost everybody slept on the bus.

I have to mention that Ben, having decided not to eat dinner or breakfast at the airport or on the plane, ended up getting sick on the bus.  What a way to start the trip!  Thankfully, we were able to get him to (finally) eat something and he slowly started to feel better.

 We visited the Trinity College library and saw the Book of Kells.

 As we were walking around Dublin we stumbled upon several street performers.  So neat!

 Aren't we adorable?  This was in front of our first hotel of the trip.

Ready for to head out to the parade!

The morning of St. Patrick's Day started out with snow, sleet and rain.  Nothing could dampen the spirits of the kids as they rehearsed and headed to the parade.  They worked so hard to be there!  The neat thing is, the rain managed to stop long enough for the parade, and then picked back up afterward.  Thank you, Lord for the little break!

This was such a proud moment!  To be standing on the streets of Dublin, hearing the Bruin Brigade playing "Oklahoma" and the school fight song...there are no words.  Only a feeling of extreme pride and awe.  I couldn't me more proud or feel more blessed to be there and be part of this experience.

This is mine and Jon's view from where we were standing!

This is a really crummy video, but you get the picture.  Jon and I went up to our hotel room to relax for a little bit, turned on the tv and could heard "Oklahoma" playing.  It just so happened that the "float" that was in front of the Bruin Brigade" was on the screen!  We turned the tv on at just the right time!  Ben is in the front row on the right hand side and you can see him multiple times!  I couldn't believe we caught it!

Have I mentioned that I might be a little bit proud???

 One of the really pretty things in Dublin was the colorful Doors of Dublin.  It was hard not to take a picture of every door!  (One of these doors isn't in Dublin...but I couldn't resist including it.)

 According to our bus driver/tour guide, this is the most photographed door in Dublin.  It really is beautiful.

Next stop:  St. Patrick's Cathedral
Oh...what beauty!

The choir had the opportunity to perform a concert inside St. Patrick's Cathedral.  What an amazing experience for them!  (And for those of us that got to listen!)

On our way to southern Ireland we stopped at The Rock of Cashel

The scaffolding is up, not for restoration purposes, but to, hopefully, slow down the deterioration process.

The Rock of Cashel was one of my favorite places that we visited. It was one (if not the only one) of the places that has not been restored or renovated over the years.  It is falling apart, but it is just absolutely gorgeous.  I also couldn't help but feel a slightly eery feeling, as well.  Perhaps it was the large ravens that were circling overhead.

On tap in Blarney:  A traditional Irish Ceili.  What is a ceili?  It is a traditional Gaelic social gathering, which usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing.  A live band was brought in and a dance team that would demonstrate and teach the kids the dances.  FUN!!

Ben and Emily had the best time at the ceili!  If you ask Ben what his favorite part of the trip was, he will tell you it was the ceili.  It was so much fun to watch the kids dancing and having the time of their lives!  Just priceless!

We visited Charles Fort in Kinsale.  It is so hard to put words to all of these places and experiences. 

Charles Fort was one of Jon's favorite places.

The fort on the tip on the left is James Fort, located just across the harbour from Charles Fort.

Me and Ben with Kinsale Harbour in the background.

Of course, we had to visit Blarney Castle and kiss the famous Blarney Stone.

We all went to Blarney Castle, but we didn't all kiss the famous Blarney Stone.  Jon and I got in line with Ben, but when we found out that, once we made it inside the first door that we had another hour before we made it to the top, Jon and I decided that we would pass on that opportunity.  We had a limited amount of time in Blarney for the day and Jon and I wanted to do some shopping.  We were told that the shopping in Blarney was great and the prices were much better than in other areas we had visited.  How could we pass that up?

Thankfully, Ben seized the opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone!  I am so glad he stayed in line and didn't miss out.

Off to Kilkenny!

While in Kilkenny we visited Kilkenny Castle.  It was pretty and all, but it has been partially destroyed once and renovated and remodeled several times that it kind of lost something for me.  Having recently watched Downton Abbey, I couldn't help but think about that as we were touring the castle.  (:

 Such a great group!

 We had quite a bit of free time in Kilkenny.  Since it was our last day in Ireland, Jon and I chose to forego the complimentary packed lunch and have lunch on our own.  We really wanted to take the opportunity to have fish and chips one last time.  We stopped at a "city info" office and asked for a recommendation for a place to eat lunch.  What better than a local's opinion?!

Our lunch was super!  When the waitress asked what I would like to drink, I told her that what I would really like was an iced tea, but I knew they didn't do that there.  (I was going through iced tea withdrawal!)  The other worker piped up and mentioned that she was a waitress "in the States" for 12 years and knew exactly what I wanted.  Let me just was the best tea ever!  I'm not sure if it was, in fact, great tea, or just the fact that I hadn't had any in a week.  However, it was great!  Jon took the opportunity to try out a local brew.  (Neither one of us like the taste of alcohol, but how do you go to Ireland and not give it a try???)  We were both shocked that it, actually, wasn't terrible.  (I'm definitely not hooked.)

Also, while in Kilkenny, the choir and the orchestra performed a concert at St. Canice's Cathedral.

The amazing Bartlesville band directors!

We love these two!  Mr. Claussen and Ms. Benford have been excellent teachers and directors!  We just love them!

This is one of my favorite (non-people) pictures from the trip.

Kilkenny Castle in the background.

This is all of the marching band, color guard and directors, as well as, some of the parents that went on the trip.  I love it!

Some things I learned on the trip:

Irish people are some of the most friendly people.
St. Patrick's Day in Dublin is crazy!  (I'm pretty sure some kids got quite an education watching the locals celebrate their holiday!)

Irish people really do like to drink.  It's not just a myth.

If you tend to drink a lot of caffeine and then don't drink any at all, you will have massive headaches.

The shamrock is not really the symbol of Ireland, it is the harp.

A 7 hour flight on a full airplane is not enjoyable.  Plans to sleep are ridiculous.

Irish people know their history.  And their history goes back so far.  We, in the U.S. don't have a clue and our country doesn't have nearly the length of history.

Ireland looks just as you imagine!  Green, lush, cloudy and beautiful!

Would I do this trip again?  ABSOLUTELY!  In a heartbeat!  I would do it again a hundred times over!  I still can't believe that I got to go!  Even more, I can't believe that Jon and I were able to go and share this experience this with Ben.  We made memories that will last a lifetime!  I can't express how thankful I am!

1 comment:

Mom said...

WOW!!! It did look amazing. I know you had a great time. I am so glad that you were able to go. Your pictures are great!!