Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Ancient Irish DNA Makes Courageous Woman

Redmond Castle now Luftus Hall in Hooks Peninsula, Co. Wexford
Ten days 2,000 miles

Many people would not travel to a foreign country without a traveling companion or group. This Irish blooded lassie took the 10 day trip alone. Many said "You're more courageous than me."

Who did I have to yell out?

I missed turns, because the road signs were either non-existent, written in Gaelic, located past the road to turn on, or posted on the side of a building on a plaque that was maybe 12 inches long and four inches tall. I know the leprechauns were falling down laughing as I screamed at the car, the road or the woman that kept telling me to turn down wrong roads or make a U-turn. (The GPS woman.)

I swear, the guys at the car rental place where I got the GPS changed the settings to avoid all major roadways. It took me down roads that looked more like country driveways with 50 mpr speed limits.

Whenever I met an oncoming vehicle I know the other driver saw my eyeballs and heart pop out of me and hit the windshield. That is how it felt, to me, when I slammed on the brakes so hard the poor little Nissan choked to a stop.
Click here and take a quick trip down a road with me.

I programmed the GPS to go to Dunbrody Abbey. It took me through switchbacks, country roads and out of the way places until it said "Arrive at Dunbrody Abbey on right."

I didn't see anything resembling an abbey, but there was a long manicured drive. I turned right. Drove a quarter mile to the front door of a very nice family home. I had to ask, "This wouldn't be Dunbrody Abbey, would it?" The kindly gentleman, that came out to see me, just laughed and shook his head.

Checked the map before heading out of their drive to find the abbey. It was more than an hour away, in the opposite direction. At that point I felt so lost I wanted to cry, but had to push on and ignore the stupid voice in my head, and the one that kept saying "Recalculating," and going to the wrong places.

Good thing I am blessed with a sense of direction, and the willingness to argue with  the annoying GPS voice that kept trying to tell me what to do. She kept saying "Turn left now," and if I had, I would have been in the water of Waterford Harbor. I kept the stupid thing on to watch the map as I drove; I didn't have another navigator.

 Once I was on the M8, I called Budget Car Rentals to report that I had an outdated, contrary and insane GPS. The replacement was newer,but it was still programmed to avoid major roads, such as the M8 - M25, which are highways somewhat like an Interstate in the US.

The scare last year, when I thought I had a heart attack, may have been a good thing after all, because I learned my heart is healthy. If it wasn't, I probably wouldn't have made it back to the USA, only because of the stress of driving on some of the roads in the Republic of Ireland.

Suddenly, after days, of driving my body stopped bouncing as if on a bronco in a rodeo. I noticed there were road signs that made sense and were strategically placed where the driver would know what was ahead, when and where to turn. I was in Northern Ireland, UK.

Three lovely days were spent with a cousin in Ballycastle, Co. Antrim, Northern Ireland. I am most grateful to cousin Sean for driving around the Causeway Coast, which allowed me to take in all of the scenery and splendor of the rugged sea shore. For those interested this is also where they film Game of Thrones the HBO series.

We discovered each other through DNA testing and the Internet. I had tea with another DNA cousin in Clanlara, Co. Clare. The first night in Ireland was with a Face Book friend for her birthday in Arklow, Co. Wicklow. It was lovely to share the time with each of them. The Irish people I met along the journey were gracious, helpful and kind. Personal thanks go out to all of them for making my journey feel less lonely.

Even with a technical problem with the Air France plane in Paris, I did safely return home.

To see photos of my trip please visit my Flickr account:
Ireland 2014

Causeway Coast Northern Ireland

Last Day in Ireland