Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Madison Art travels to Ireland...

Ireland has always held a certain allure for me as one of those countries that was a must see.  The things that came to mind were always stunning cliffs, rolling green hills, and of course, the castles!  Add friendly locals and plenty of pubs and I was ready to go as soon as my husband suggested planning our next vacation destination.

As a person quite familiar with the large cities like Philadelphia and New York, the first thing that struck me upon arrival was the lack of population.  The countryside was just a scattering of clusters as opposed to dense and widespread areas of light that are common when flying over the United States after dark.  Not to mention that it put into perspective how small the country is in comparison, with the state of Pennsylvania being almost double the size of Ireland.

Once you start exploring the city of Dublin you are even more aware of the scale of Ireland's largest city.  There are very few skyscrapers in the corporate area, or huge apartment complexes fighting for the best view.  Instead it is primarily rows of quaint buildings with beautiful details and full of character.  One of the tallest buildings in Dublin is none other than the Guinness Storehouse, whose Gravity Bar provided a 360 panoramic view of the city (a must-see if you're traveling to Dublin, whether you are a beer drinker or not).

One of the buildings that stands out in Dublin's skyline is St. Patrick's Cathedral, which was number 2 on my list of must-see tourist attractions (the first being the Guinness Storehouse thanks to my love of a tasty pint).  The attentiveness to detail in Gothic architecture is awe inspiring.  Everything is hand carved and intricately designed, and you can't help but think about everything that went into its construction and all the history behind it.  It was built in the early 1200’s and is still one of the major hubs of the city.

After a couple days in the city, I was excited to experience the more rural side of the country and travel to the opposite coast.  The landscape is varied and you often feel like you are stepping back into time due to the simple and rural scenes that are common.  From the rolling pastures and the jaw dropping cliffs, there’s no shortage of picturesque landscape.  Since there are frequent rain showers, sometimes it’s all about getting the picture at the right moment.

One of my favorite parts of Ireland was how much they seem to embrace their history and the architecture that represents it.  They often let the buildings deteriorate, which leaves the landscape dotted in ruins that people work around when developing the land, unlike what is more common in the United States which is preservation.

Ireland is rich in their heritage and it is obvious when speaking to the locals how much pride they have in their country, but even more in the history of their specific origins within Ireland.  Yet at the same time, they are so friendly and welcoming to foreigners.  You can’t help but leave Ireland feeling like you’re leaving an old friend, and already planning a return trip.

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