Two designers creating a roadmap to a simpler more fulfilling lifestyle
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
THE ITALIAN (NOW IRISH) DIARIES - DAY TWENTY-THREE
DAY 23, JULY 30, 2013
Adrian, our driver and guide for the day, was waiting outside the hotel polishing his windshield at eight forty-five in the morning, fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. He was clearly very proud of this assignment and delighted to be Tonto to our Lone Ranger. He wore a pressed white shirt, tie and sunglasses. We felt a little like celebrities and he our bodyguard. We had really wanted a day in the Irish countryside and when we started tabulating the cost of a car, gas and the inevitable accidents from trying to navigate from the wrong side of the street we decided Adrian was going to be a real bargain. He was a wealth of knowledge on Irish history and the hidden treasures of the counties Dublin and Wicklow.
Wicklow is the area directly south of Dublin and the quintessential image of the lush rolling hills of the Irish countryside. When in Dublin you can forget that the city is virtually a coastal town lying up east of the Irish Sea. It was this route Adrian chose to first take us on for some spectacular views of the water, its cliffs and beaches.
From there we meandered through winding roads getting deeper and deeper into rural Ireland.
We made a small stop in Enniskerry,
a quant village where we picked up a bite to eat and some medicine to quell Emmy's queasy stomach. Riding in the backseat on all those winding roads is enough to make anyone a little woozy.
From there our destination was Powerscourt, a beautiful estate with phenomenal gardens. From the back of the mansion the central garden rolled down the hill broken by a series of fountains and ending in an extensive lily pond.
Lanes led on either side to additional regions of the garden.
We headed to the Japanese garden first with its stone arches, pagodas and ponds.
Emmy was lost in her photography using her macro lens to capture the smallest of details.
From there we crossed the rhododendron trail way past blooming time but what we did see were decades old trees lining the walk where hundreds had carved their initials with hearts and arrows for visitors from future decades to see and wonder at the extent of true love.
The Dolphin fountain was placed at the end of the rhododendron walk. You walked around the fountain and into the walled formal gardens, a lane of flowering plants along both sides.
At the end of the walled garden you ended up at the burial monument to Julia, the Seventh Viscountess, by her son presumably the Eighth Viscount.
Inside the mansion were some of the most beautiful shops we had seen in Ireland. Loomed blankets and scarves from local wool along
with baked goods filled the labyrinth of rooms that let us know it was time to find some lunch.
Adrian took us to Lynham's of Larach for a lunch of beef stew, a chicken Caesar salad and a pint of Guinness ale. My guess is he'd been here before.
The stew was delicious and hearty and just the right thing for a day in the Irish countryside. Not being much of a drinker the ale surprisingly agreed with me.
It had a heavy head almost the consistency of cream and a smooth cool taste. I'd never have a Guinness in America; it wouldn't be the same. After all, everyone knows Guinness doesn' t travel well.
Just beyond the restaurant was a park with the remains of an old monastery dating back to the 600's. Not much remained except a tall tower, partial walls of the church and a graveyard littered with memorials. Our legs were getting a little weary. None of us were the hiking type and the gardens had been forty-seven acres of heavy up and down hill traveling. After eight hours we decided to turn around.
We had one last stop before we found home. Along the shore there were the partial remains of a castle perched on the very edge of a cliff with a forty-foot drop to the sea. Adrian had wouldn't let us go home without a whiff of sea air and the feel of salt wind on our cheeks. We couldn't say we had seen Ireland without a stop by the sea. The view from the castle's remains was spectacular. The sea crystal clear crashing over the jagged rocks that lined the shore below was unlike anything you could experience back in the states. There were no guard rails, no signs telling you to enter at your own risk, only the edge of Ireland before it feel into the sea.
As a parting gift Ireland turned its skies to a pot of brilliant rose with glimmers of lavender and glints of gold just as the leprechauns had predicted.