Me and dad in England and Ireland

Cliffs of Moher

I’m back from a longish trip around my little corner of the universe with dad, celebrating his retirement with a trip overseas to visit his daughter. How lucky am I?

Last time dad came to England, I was living in London which made for a mostly urban visit. This time around, we spent most of the trip driving and walking around the English and Irish countryside, with a few village and town stops in between. For example, here is my dad in Lacock, a ridiculous English village better known as a movie set than an actual living community because it’s so damn “quaint”. In fact, being there felt a bit like being in a post nuclear holocaust where the only beings left were posh Cotswoldian zombies. Here’s my dad pretending to be one of them:

Surreal Lacock

The weird thing is, people do seem to live in Lacock. But can you imagine growing up in what is essentially Disney World for hardcore fans of Pride and Prejudice? That can’t be normal.

I also took my dad to see some of my own favourite spots in England: the farm, Stonehenge, Avebury, Bath and Demuths Restaurant. We had a particularly good time at the remains of the Roman Amphitheatre in Cirencester, pretending to be Romans in the most pathetic gladiator fight of all time.

Lamest mock gladiator fight ever Lamest mock gladiator fight ever Lamest mock gladiator fight ever Lamest mock gladiator fight ever

For the most part, his trip was a great excuse to see some things I’ve always wanted to see, especially Ireland. Neither of us had been to Ireland before, so we did what most tourists seem to do: rent a car, drive around, see lots of ruins, drink lots of Guinness, and sleep at B&Bs along the way.

Many pints of Guinness

We couldn’t have asked for better weather – it barely rained a drop the whole trip. I expected Ireland to be shrouded in gray, but instead it bursted with greens and blues and only seemed black when I was staring into a pint glass.

Wicklow Gap

But for all of its greenery, one of my favorite bits of Ireland was the stony Burren, punctuated by its karstic limestone pavement, sporadically topped by cool neolithic tombs.

Poulnabrone Dolmen

We were there for five days, but we only managed to see a small slice of Ireland between Dublin and Connamara. But maybe it’s for the best that we left places like Cork, Killarney, and Donegal a mystery: it gives us an excuse to go back. And I really hope we do. Trips like these make me homesick. I wonder, am I doing the right thing by living here in the UK, while the rest of my family are in Chicago? Or am I missing out, missing opportunities to get to know my family better?

And then I think, if I lived at home, would we ever bother to take the time to go on trips like these? I don’t know. I hope that by living in the UK, the time I DO spend with my family is of a higher quality than it would be if I were back home. Plus it gives us both an excuse to travel, see new places, and pretend we’re Irish monks meditating on a rocky spur.

St. Kevin's Cell

I should add, my dad is half Irish, and I’m 25% Irish, so going to Ireland was sort of like a family pilgrimage. Sort of. Apparently, the family is from Limerick, but the Irish people we met didn’t have many good things to say about Limerick, so we decided to pass it by. In fact, it was hard to feel any sense of heritage in a land so covered with tourists. But that’s how it is with these sorts of places. Take it or leave it. Or get off the tourist path, hike into the hills and pretend you’re there all by yourself – that’s what I hope to do next time.

For sake of completeness, here’s a laundry list of the highlights from the two weeks my dad was here:

Click here to view the entire photoset on Flickr.

Me and Dad
Life is good in Shaw town

5 thoughts on “Me and dad in England and Ireland

  1. Mom

    Monica, what amazing photographs these are… enjoyed them thoroughly! Steve has not stopped talking about his visit there with you. He inserts little tidbits out of the blue. We were driving to a wedding and suddenly he mused "this street is about the width of a main road in Ireland". It's turning in his head, part of him is still there… which is wonderful. He never seems to hold on to memories and experiences very long. My hope is that through your stories and photos he WILL long remember this visit….

    Oh yes, and should you ever get the inkling to return to the US, we will welcome you back with open arms and try to create opportunities for doing things together along these lines, and making more memories.

  2. offmotorway

    I was thinking about Demuths restaurant just the other day, thinking I must go back soon! And I didn't know about the Roman amphitheatre in Cirencester, sounds like a good reason to visit.

    I hope you found a good teashop and/or antique shop in Lacock – usually the best reason to visit jane austen land

  3. Peter

    Great journey to take with your Dad. Did something similar last year. Really nice time. Fab photos too. You'll have to come back soon as there are loads of things to do in Cork in particular. Take in Limerick next time you are over, it has got a bad reputation in recent years because of two drug gangs. The issues dont affect visitors and there is certainly plenty of interest.

  4. Beatrice

    I did a Dublin to Galway trip with my family this past June (I'm 1/16 Irish, Grandma (who we brought with us) is 1/4). I would *love* to go back — enjoyed reading about your trip and seeing the photos.

  5. Monica

    Coming to this a little late but thanks for all of the comments. I am already planning trip #2 to Ireland… there's so much more to see, and I need more sweaters. =) I didn't mention this in my post but, I had an Aran sweater commissioned from a place called O'Maille's in Galway – it was impossible to find to fit my short self – and it just arrived the other day. I've been wearing it nonstop, so comfortable and very warm, just in time for the English rain to come in.


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