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The Emerald Isle Adventure

The Emerald Isle Adventure

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Published by jerry kroth

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Published by: jerry kroth on Jun 29, 2010
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06/28/2010

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Roma’s Excellent Adventures, Part III:The Emerald Isle
God invented whiskey so that Ireland would not rule the world -Irish Proverb
In August, 2009 I traveled with my daughter, Maya, toIreland. This tiny, lush, island is about the size of Indianahousing 5.5 million people, about a million of whom arefrom the EU, especially Poles, Lithuanians, and Czechs.In fact when I arrived in Dublin, afew days before Maya, I had troublefinding people who were Irish. It wasa bit frustrating.Ireland is an absolutely historicplace. It was first occupied byNeolithic peoples about 8000 BCfollowed by the Celts arriving about500 BC, then the Vikings (800-1100AD) held sway, replaced by the Normans, (1160- 1536). KingHenry VII came in with a strong English influence from 1530, andThe Irish took back their lands from the English formally in 1923.One question I asked resulted in an important answer. I took a tourof lovely Wicklow, the bogs, and was mesmerized by the Irish countryside (see wheatbelow). After I finished my tour, I asked how in God’s name the Irish could have starvedto death during the potato famine of 1846. The famine, caused by potato blight, lasteduntil 1852, took a million lives and lead to the mass emigration of hundreds of thousandsof Irish to the U.S.My question was “Ina land brimmingwith wheat, barley,cows, sheep, andwith farmland sogreen irrigation wasnot even need, howcould the decline of potatoes impact somany? Why couldn’tother staples have
Celtic cross; aCeltic sun marriedwith St. Patrick’scrucifix.
 
taken up the slack?” The answer will surprise you. It wasn’t the potatoes so much as theEnglish. The English landowners thought the Irish were barbarians, treated them muchlike slaves, and they simply exported most of the food, leaving the Irish with rottenpotatoes to eat. The famine and starvation were fundamentally
 political 
! It gives quite aninsight on why the Irish have an antipathy for the English to the point that they remainedneutral during World War II, and are still agitating to get them out of Northern Ireland.Imagine exporting most of the indigenous food for profit and leaving the peasants tostarve!I enjoyed Dublin’s Temple Bar area, lots of pubs, right across from the Liffey River.While I was sitting, relaxing my achingfeet at Grogan’s pub (right), and havinga bit of wine, an old man said in themost charming Irish lilt “Pardon me,my good friend, I don’t want to disturbyou, but if you don’t mind mycomment. I think you are a verycontented man, very happy. I can seecontentedness all across your face.You’ll likely live to be a ripe old ageindeed.” Made me feel good. Hehimself was 84.People in Ireland are nice, exceptionally nice, sweet, and kind. In fact there is a bumpersticker that says “Because Nice Matters”I made a bus tour of the Wicklow mountains and found some beautiful areas. In one spotwe stopped to look over a lake. This was the Guinness estate covering thousands of acresand two lakes. The water of the lake comes from the bogs and is colored a dark brown. Itis drinkableand pure butlooks like ahefty Guinnessstout. As amatter of fact,the Guinnessfamily, sotaken by thelake, importedFrench sand soit would lookexactly like aGuinness stoutwith a foamytop. (See right).
 
On the Wicklow mountains bus tour, we passed the sprawling homes of Daniel DayLewis and some other celebrities. We then stopped in a place where St. Kevin became ahermit. He lived in a cave, was loved by the local people, and farmers slowly started tosettle around him as he was believed to be holy with a special gift for treating sickanimals. These are photos of the lush vegetation on the way to St. Kevin’s cave, plus ashot inside the 12
th
century church dedicated to him.

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