Off to Ireland

Published 1:19 am Saturday, September 17, 2011

“Are you getting excited about your trip to Ireland?” my daughter kept asking in the weeks leading up to my departure date of Sat., Sept. 3. Somehow, the time passed so fast that I didn’t give myself time to get excited. Suddenly, the day arrived. My suitcase bulged to capacity; the backpack the touring company furnished was jammed full, and my purse was about as over-stuffed as it could get.

I made sure my passport and other essential papers, along with my freshly-charged cell phone and camera, were in a zippered area of my purse. I hoped that I would remember exactly where I had placed each item. I didn’t. Throughout the trip, the more I dug in the purse, the more things seemed to elude me. Just about time I decided I had definitely lost something and was about to hit the panic button, that item surfaced.

I traveled with a group from the Andalusia Adult Activity Center. Most of us left Andalusia around noon. It was raining when our flight from Pensacola, Fla., to Atlanta lifted off at 4:30 p.m. I was without a seatmate during that short jaunt. On the plane from Atlanta to Dublin, Ireland, which we boarded hours later, I found myself in a middle section with triple seats. My seatmates were a couple from Atlanta, who accompanied my friend, Mary Lou Goggans. I wanted and needed to sleep as we winged our way toward Ireland, but sleep just would not come.

Stewardesses served breakfast on the plane Sunday, an hour before we touched down in Dublin. The first things I noticed as our plane landed were several Irish airplanes with shamrocks on the tail wings. A tour bus awaited us to transport us to our hotel, but it seemed like a mile’s walk before we reached it. We had a tour through the narrow streets of Dublin scheduled for 2 p.m. Someone from the hotel met us when we arrived at l:30 p.m. and handed us our key cards. My roommate, Linda Colvin, and I made a mad scramble back downstairs and out to the bus in our allotted 30 minutes.

A tour guide boarded the bus and pointed out numerous of points of interest in Dublin, the largest city in Ireland. We stopped to visit Trinity College Library where we saw the ancient Book of Kells preserved under glass. The lavishly decorated document, probably written by monks early in the 9th Century, contains the four gospels in Latin. It was moved to Trinity College in 1661. The library is one of the world’s great research libraries, with the largest collection of manuscripts and printed books in Ireland. The Long Room where the Book of Kells is located houses around 200,000 of the library’s oldest books.

The time to get excited was the next morning when we headed for Blarney Castle and an opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone. I will tell you more about that next week.