Some random thoughts about trip to Ireland

Some random thoughts about trip to Ireland By Bob Karolevitz (Editor's note: Bob and Phyllis are back in South Dakota beating this column home. They and their traveling group were met at the Sioux Falls airport by two representatives of the state veterinarian's office who quarantined them for five days because of the foof-and-mouth disease, meaning they couldn't visit a ranch or farm with cloven-hoofed animals. They also couldn't see their grandson Sam for another five days.)

Blarney, Ireland: I think the Blarney Castle and its famous stone were created by Eastman Kodak.

Or maybe it was Fuji!

At any rate, more film is shot there than at Mount Rushmore or the Mitchell Corn Palace.

I didn't climb the 107 steps to kiss the Blarney Stone. Phyllis says I've got all the blarney that I need.

The castle in County Cork was built some 50 years before Columbus sailed to America, but it's in pretty good shape for being more than five centuries old. Kissing the stone apparently only dates back to the 1800s, so it may just have been a public relations gimmick which obviously has caught on.

Some random thoughts before leaving Ireland:

The Irish dollar is called a punt (like in football), and currently it's worth about 18 cents more than ours, depending on where you get your money exchanged ? Mother's Day and Daylight Savings Time came to Ireland a week ahead of ours, so we get to experience each of them twice.

We knew that Kimberlee Millett, our charming young tour hostess, was from Canada the minute she said "oot" and "aboot" instead of "out" and "about"? She also said � when we passed a wedding party � "Well, there goes another man giving up the drink."

The Irish or Gaelic alphabet has only 18 letters. Missing are J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y, and Z ? Niall Cronin, our friendly bus driver, said an Irishman can talk all day about absolutely nothing. On the other hand, he gave us a running, witty lecture about the land of his birth, full of facts � and some blarney, too.

We visited the dairy farm of Paddy and Margret Fenton, but because of the foof-and-mouth precautions, we couldn't see their cows. Instead, he gave us an informational talk in their parlor; and, with a twinkle in his eye, he included � for us men � the secret of a happy marriage. "Do what you're told, and do it quick!"

At Cobh � which is the Gaelic name for Cork � we toured an outstanding museum and learned that this was the last port of call for the Titanic before its tragic sinking. Cobh also was the haven for survivors of the Lusitania when it was sunk by a German U-boat during World War I ? We learned, too, that Irish diplomacy is the ability to tell a man to go to hell so that he'll look forward to making the trip.

We arrived in Ireland at the height of the daffodil season. They're everywhere � both planted and growing wild � and the bright yellow is a sharp contrast to the green ? A highlight for Phyllis was a ride in a horse-drawn jaunting cart. That driver was full of blarney, too. When we crossed a bridge, he informed us pixie-like that the water from the river was the same on both sides.

When I should have been jotting down impressions of what we'd seen, I made notes about the funnies I heard like:

The reason the Irish are always fighting each other is that they have no other worthy opponents.

Always be good to a politician; you never know when you'll have to buy him.

Drunk is feeling sophisticated when you can't say it.

Incidentally, Phyllis volunteered to be an official Irish whiskey taster when we visited the Jameson Distillery in Midleton, and she has certification to prove it. Her final answer was: the Irish keep the best of their triple-distilled stuff at home and export the rest.

Needless to say, we enjoyed our week-long stay at the Dromhall Hotel in Killarney. Tomorrow it will be back to reality.

© 2001 Robert F. Karolevitz

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