Tuesday, June 12, 2012


Alright.  We're back and ready for action.  Well, not so ready for action because we're exhausted.  But we're at least back.  I am not exaggerating when I say that of the last month + there have been only 2, count them 2, days when we weren't traveling or had visitors.  And oh dear me, we had a BLAST, but it's time to breathe again.  

Of course there is some SERIOUS blogging to catch up on and I will start at the beginning.


If you have spoken to me in the last month (and there's not many of you, because I have been sadly ignoring pretty much everything in my life) you know that Joe and I developed a SERIOUS love affair with Ireland.  I don't know if it's the beauty (yes), the people we traveled with (definitely), the culture (awesome), or just the fact that it wasn't Morocco (probably that, too).

We hadn't been out of the country since our trip to London in December, and while we love Morocco, everyone here at post agrees that it is healthy and necessary to leave the country at least for a few days every few months.  So we were overdue.

Our sweet friends Britt and Lauren gave us the opportunity of a lifetime when they decided to get married in Ireland.  Britt's parents and my parents were buddies before we were even born, and so not only has Britt been one of my dearest friends throughout the years, but our families have become family.  So it was a double blessing to be with everyone in Ireland for such a joyful event!

I can barely keep all my thoughts together concerning this AWESOME trip, so I'm going to go Type-A style and divide the rest of this post into categories.

The People:
The Whole Gang- 23 in total
The SEP crew, with spouses.
This bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey earned itself a spot under "people".  Throughout the week, this bottle just kept giving and giving.  Swig after swig, it never let us down, kind of like the basket of bread and fish in the Bible.  

The Places:

We stayed in Doolin, County Clare, Ireland (West Coast).
This is the view from the house we rented with several other couples.  Absolutely divine. 
Right across the water from the village of Doolin are the Aran Islands.  We all took a ferry ride to the first of the 3 islands, Inis Oirr, and spent the day hiking, biking, exploring, and eating GREAT food.  (Smoked salmon, be still my heart.) The main language spoken on the islands is still Gaelic.
These cows, hanging out in the middle of ancient stone fence divided pastures were the biggest, fattest we had ever seen.  Or maybe we're just used to seeing the tiny skinny ones in Morocco now.

Hello green land and clear blue sky, will you marry me?
In front of a shipwreck from the 1960s.  
Moving along to the Cliffs of Moher.  It is hard have perspective on just how tall the cliffs are, but at the top middle of the picture is a lookout tower.  To the left of the tower are a couple little specks.  Those are people.
Cliffs from the top, on a different day.

It is possible that we jumped a fence so that we could get the real "feel" of the Cliffs.  I'm not going to lie, it was dang scary, but thrilling at the same time.  I wanted to look over the edge but didn't trust my feet/legs/overall clumsiness very much, not to mention the gale force winds. (Not exaggerating on the gale force part)  So this was my compromise.
Phil and Bradie mid-wind gust.

Life in Ireland (and our trip) revolves around the local pub(s).  In Doolin there are O'Connors, McDermott's, and McGann's.  Doolin, being the music capital of Ireland, has nightly Irish music in each pub.  
Next town down the road, Ennistymon.  Everything is so picturesque.  Spent a fun afternoon and had some great food
(me-smoked salmon, again).
The Events:

The main, and best, event: the wedding.  Held in an ancient castle tower with a peat fire burning.  
The Groom and Me.

Alan and Britt pre-wedding

And this is the only picture we have from the reception.  We were having way too much fun eating Irish food and then dancing with the Irish band and later, the DJ (who truly thought he taught us the Macarena that night).  They even had Irish dancers come in and teach us some folk dances.  In the above picture Bradie, Brad and I have been invited to the front to sing with the band.  The only song we and they knew?  "Friends in Low Places".  Of course.  Also, you can tell by our clothes, sweat and hair that we are having a GREAT time.  I swear, Phil and Joe spent the rest of the evening trying to come up with a song the two of them could sing.  SO sad they never arrived at a decision.
The other really important event was the nightly routine of everyone meeting up for a group dinner at the big house followed by a trip to a pub and then back to the big house for stories and laughter.  The problem was that the sun sets late in Ireland because it's so far north and it messes with your mind.  Once the sun set at 10 pm (!), we would realize it was time to get going to the pub.  Joe and Ash have usually been in bed for an hour at 9 pm, but we hung in there with the best of them! (Bradie and I are singing again here.  I have no idea what.  We sang everywhere:  the pub, the house, the bus, the reception, and maybe even on horseback.)
A flight of Irish whiskeys.  Don't worry, these were spread between four people.
Baby Guiness shots.  So yummy (and really cute!)
Even Baby Sadie got in on the pub action!
Storytelling.  And the look on Phil's face tells me it was one of the MANY times in the weekend when the story shifted to and embarrassing moment of his, instead of the bride or groom's.  Bless his heart.  Also this is around 2:30 am.  WHAT(?!)

We went horseback riding one day.  What we weren't expecting (but should have) were ENGLISH SADDLES.  Oh dear me, compared to a western saddle, that thing is like a little leather thong.  Hardly anything to it, and not a big horn to hold on to!  We did OK, and even got into the rhythm of trotting a few times (which gave me a lot of respect for people who can canter on a horse, not to mention gallop!!) 
Bradie looked pretty professional in her get-up.
Phil looking like he's riding "I'll Have Another".
Can you tell that Joe, the photographer, has a bit of a man-crush on Phil?
I have to add these two photos of Phil being helped off his horse.  
He appreciated it, Peter, and it didn't call his manhood into question at all.
(Peter, the owner, who by the way, when he introduced himself I thought he said, "Painter", because even though we're all speaking English, there is indeed a language barrier.)

And now, my thank yous, in no particular order:

1.  Mom and Dad, for keeping the boys, you made all this possible.  (And I don't think they even noticed we were gone!)
2. Lauren, the bride, who worked so hard to plan an amazing trip for all of us- we will never forget it.
3. Casey- for the photos I stole off your Facebook page to put on this post.  You really are pretty talented with that camera.
4. Smoked salmon, for being so delicious.  I think of you almost every day.
5. EVERY single person on this trip with us- for being a ton of fun! (Even with a broken wrist!) And I know it looks like we did a lot of drinking, after all, it is Ireland, but believe it or not, no one ever went too far!  (And that made it  even better.) 

So, cheers to Ireland (and our awesome friends, old and new)!  We hope to see you soon!

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