Ireland – It’s Intrigue is Irresistibly Interesting: Wrap-Up

My friends! You have traveled to Ireland and back with me. I am incredibly grateful for your companionship and conversation along the way!

There are 5 things which did not fit into my stories, and I wanted to share them with you in this wrap-up post. These are items of intrigue which stood out; some because they were irresistibly interesting, others because they struck a chord of importance. But I’m including this first one because it simply made me laugh.

1. Toilets

This trip to Ireland was my first journey outside of North America. I am used to signs that say “Restroom”. Most of the time, what we find inside is anything but restful. In Ireland, they call it what it is. The signs say “Toilets”.

A bathroom sign pointing to the left.
This sign made me laugh out loud!

I shared the above photo in my post about Doolin and Bunratty, but I did not expand further into the toilet situation. Has anyone ever left the seat up without your knowledge and you sat, unsuspectingly, on the cold, thin rim of the bowl?

Well, that is how I found the toilets in Ireland. Here is a photo from our incredibly well-appointed bathroom at the Fota Resort hotel.

Notice also that the toilet is hung on the wall, not anchored to the ground. The thin seat and unsure mooring made these Americans kind of squat and lean, more than sit, so as not to fall in or worry about it falling off. They were not comfortable, but the toilets did give us several good chuckles. If you’ve been to Ireland, please tell me you have similar stories!

2. Coffee

Coffee differs from country to country in Europe. My husband went to Paris, many years ago, and has raved about their stiff, dark coffee ever since. We’ve done our best to make coffee at home to rival what he tasted there.

Heading to Ireland, I thought I was going to get a similar experience. But that was an incorrect expectation. We never found a strong cup of coffee there. And believe me, we taste tested everywhere we went!

A cup of coffee with whipped cream
A latte we enjoyed in Cork City Center. Consisting mostly of milk and whipped cream, it was very different from the lattes I make at home.

Irish coffee, even their espresso, is weaker than what we are used to. They add a lot more milk. And if you consent to sweetness, you may want to prepare for a very indulgent treat!

3. Black Currants

My husband receives a daily email with interesting facts. Shortly before we left for Ireland, he read one aloud to me. It was about black currants.

Apparently, they grow profusely in Ireland. At one time, they were outlawed in the US because black currant plants encourage the growth of a fungus which kills pine trees. And pine was necessary for building.

It was determined, relatively recently, that black currant shrubs can safely coincide with pine trees, if there is 1000 feet of separation. They have been allowed back into our soil, but they are not a major factor in our agricultural scene.

A jar of jam.
Black currants taste like a cross between blackberries and blueberries. They pack a flavorful punch for such tiny berries.

Having read this, and being curious, we sought black currant things in Ireland. We tasted different items, but our favorite was the jam. We brought home a large jar for us, and several little ones as gifts. If you ever have the chance, do yourself a favor and try something flavored with black currants.

4. Business Hours

In a previous post, I wrote about the Sunday business hours in Cork City Centre. Most of the shops opened later than expected, and some didn’t open at all. But Sunday wasn’t the only day we noticed the business hours in Ireland.

We walked up to several interesting stores, only to find them closed. This happened at all hours on any given day. As we’re accustomed to doing in the US, we looked for posted business hours. We found none.

The Irish obviously have better habits for work/life balance than Americans. They were happy to serve us when they were open; if they weren’t, it seemed they had something better to do. And they were often doing whatever that was, in the middle of what we would consider ‘normal’ business hours. By not posting their hours, they promised nothing, and it was on us if we were disappointed.

5. Castles and Cathedrals

This last item in my wrap-up is the most important. It is a spiritual picture which God painted for me in awe-inspiring, incredibly grand detail. If you remember only one thing from this series, remember this!

The effort you put into your spiritual well-being is every bit as important as how well you protect yourself physically. Maybe more so.

God, to Mama Lava, to you

God showed me this truth using castles and cathedrals. Through the windows of the Paddywagon, taxi, or train, I couldn’t tell the difference between a castle and a cathedral in the distance. Both were amazing feats of effort and architecture.

Up close, if I noticed any difference, the cathedrals may have been more ornate and spectacular. Both castles and cathedrals in Ireland were astounding. And I heard God challenge me.

Do I, do we, put as much effort into our spiritual strongholds as we do our physical protection?

A castle in the rain
Bunratty castle.

Irish castles were built for physical protection, and they are impressive! I think we also go to great lengths to fortify our safety. We have alarm systems, security guards, laws with enforcement, and locks on our doors and windows.

A stone building with spires and windows.
St. Coleman’s Cathedral

Irish cathedrals were built to invite people into a spiritual haven. And it is mind-blowing what amazing effort was put into the endeavor. Do we have similar practices?

“Oh, guard my soul, and deliver me! Let me not be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.”

Psalm 25:20

Do we take the time to bolster and beautify our spiritual lives? How? Do we fortify and protect ourselves, spiritually, from the elements outside? Do we stand confident and strong, inviting others into the peace we have inside?


And with that, I wrap up this series about Ireland. Thank you, my dear friend, for traveling with me to the end! I hope you enjoyed the irresistibly interesting island of intrigue as you’ve read along. I have been grateful for your company and touched by your grace!

Curious how this Ireland trip came about?
Click here for the introduction post.


23 replies on “Ireland – It’s Intrigue is Irresistibly Interesting: Wrap-Up”

I enjoyed your series on Ireland so much. Things I noticed in Ireland that were different than the US were the salads and peas. Mushy peas. Did you try them? Also, I ordered Caesar salad and it was entirely different. Also, they use a lot of “rocket” which we call arugula.

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Yes! Great point :). I did try mushy peas. I liked them. Split pea soup is a favorite of mine and I found them to be similar. My husband won’t touch a pea, so I got that dish all to myself. Haha! And I eat a lot of power greens in the US, so I was very fond of the rocket, once I figured out what it was. There were not many options in the greens department – mostly root veggies. Thanks for bringing that up. Blessings, friend!

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I liked the mushy peas too. We were in Ireland on St. Patrick’s Day. The place we were staying served a traditional meal and to our surprise it was ham. Corned Beef is an American tradition we learned. It was the best ham I’ve ever eaten. It wasn’t salty like ours. That’s another difference I just remembered.

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As for the Irish blessing, I always heard the last line was “fall upon your fields, And may you be in Heaven an hour before the devil knows you’re gone!” 😊
As for toilets, you have not been to Asia and seen the “squatty potties” that are very common, even in “sophisticated” hotels and venues!
As for the wall hung toilets, they are perfectly safe up to several hundred pounds, some up to half-ton! You would literally have to pull the wall down. 😄
Your coffee experience will be mirrored everywhere you go in Europe. When you ask for an “American coffee,” they just make expresso and add a cup of hot water. Doesn’t taste the same as Folgers, but gets the caffeine into the system without burning your esophagus with acidic espresso!
Hoping your first trip abroad is not your last!! Just be sure to heed Mother Teresa’s advice: “Never travel faster than your guardian angel can fly.” Mother Teresa 😉
❤️&🙏, c.a.

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Blackcurrants are amazing! We very rarely see them in the shops but if I can get hold of them I have them with my breakfast – I love the tartness. Redcurrants too – we had a redcurrant bush in the garden but had to rig elaborate netting to protect the fruit from the marauding blackbirds.

Some of the hotels in Ireland have more traditional toilets!

I don’t know what to suggest about the coffee. I prefer mine strong.

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I’ve enjoyed “riding along” with you to Ireland! Thanks for sharing all your tips, fun photos, and serious observations. Psalm 144:2 would be well understood in Ireland with all those stone castles! I hope you get to travel more frequently–you are always on the alert for “God sightings” where you roam!

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Yes! I wanted to paste that verse here for anyone reading: “He is my loving God and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield, in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” Psalm 144:2
Thank you, my sweet friend!

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It’s been a great series and I’m a little sad to see it end. I love the business hours part. I think it would benefit us in the USA to consider this example and relax a little instead of making work such an “idol.” Interesting note about the coffee being weaker. I wonder where they get their coffee? I can’t imagine it growing well there. In Switzerland is where I discovered that I could drink espresso without getting a headache (something brewed coffee does to me), and that dark chocolate with coffee is amazing. I sure like the look of that coffee though!

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Yummm… you had me drooling at dark chocolate and coffee! I just got a dark chocolate espresso candy bar from Trader Joe’s- I might have to break into that! :). And yes about the business hours. It was apparent they were not chasing the almighty dollar or striving for more and more. It was refreshing.
I appreciate your kind comments. Thanks for being along for the stories- you’re so sweet. I really enjoy your posts and books too!

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