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.
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”.
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!
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!
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.
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!
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?
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.
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.