If you can ever catch a perfect sunny summer’s day in Ireland or England, then you’re getting a little taste of heaven.
Today was one of those days.
The four of us - Grainne, Donal, Siobhan and I - get out of the house early this Sunday morning and drive down to Glendalough, one of our favorite spots in Ireland. If you’ve ever had the chance to visit, you understand why.
The site of an ancient monastery, with the ruins hinting of its greatness, evoking mystery and spirituality. A massive graveyard, dotted with Celtic Crosses, offers a serene beauty to the landscape. We walk up a steep trail to a waterfall. The highlights are the lakes, which rise up to the Wicklow Mountains, providing breathtaking views.
A variety of hiking trails provide the many visitors with calorie-burning activities, and a chance to breathe in some of the freshest air on God’s green earth. And since we’re in Ireland, the scenery is extremely green. What my wife Grainne calls “40 shades of green.”
Some 12,000 steps later, we’ve worked up quite an appetite. However, Ireland is just like so many places in the States. Covid has shut down many restaurants, including formerly popular eateries. We head to a once-popular location in the village of Avoca made famous by the TV show Ballykissangel. It’s closed.
We recover quickly and end up at the Woodenbridge Hotel in Arklow in the Vale of Avoca. I don’t know if the marketing department of the Irish Tourist Board made up these village names, but they are just the most romantic descriptors you could ever hope for.
I take this occasion to finally order a Guinness. It’s hard to believe that I’ve been in Ireland for five days and this is my first taste of the black stuff. It’s a personal favorite - smooth and creamy. I can’t explain it, but it’s just better when you drink it close to where it’s brewed. We tack on a few rounds of sandwiches, a couple of pots of tea and finish off lunch with profiteroles, apple pie and ice cream.
The journey home provides stunning views of the surrounding hills and vales of Wicklow. Sheep graze lazily in the meadows. The sun streams down through the leaves of overhanging trees, flickering dappled light on the road ahead.
Ireland is always best experienced in the countryside.