Spending a week in the Old Country was a great way to finish our trip. Ireland is a lot like you would expect; green, rainy, beautiful, a little chilly and full of nice people. It was neat to be there so close to the summer solstice, causing daylight to last until about 11pm.
Our first day in Ireland we were treated to the Olympic Torch Relay on the streets of Dublin. Check it out:
We were really tired out by the time we got to Dublin, so we basically just relaxed and walked around town when the rain died down.
St. Patrick's Cathedral, Dublin, Ireland. This is the exact site where St. Patrick performed his first baptisms in the 5th Century AD.
It was interesting to stop by the Guinness Storehouse to learn about the centuries-old techniques used to create the famous "Black Gold"
We're officially certified to pour a perfect pint of Guinness!
Handy reminders on the street to ensure a safe crossing. Big contrast from crossing the street in Vietnam.
After a few days in Dublin, we rented a car and drove up to Ballycastle, Northern Ireland, where many of Robert's Irish relatives live.
This image is a little fuzzy due to a torrential downpour in Dublin. We estimate that at least 2 of these cars could fit in an average size car back home.
Even though it was raining, it was a beautiful ride up the A2 Coast Road from Larne to Ballycastle.
Movin' right along on the highway in County Antrim, Northern Ireland
We are extremely grateful to our Irish cousins, Jarlath and Maura, for opening their home to us and spending their time showing us the beauty of Northern Ireland. By pure coincidence, a family wedding took place the same weekend that we were there; it was great to have the opportunity to meet and get to know our extended family across the pond.
We enjoyed joining Maura on a morning stroll. Not a bad view for a morning stroll through the neighborhood, huh?
Carrick A Rede Rope Bridge. This 80-foot bridge was used by salmon fishermen to carry their catches back to the mainland.
Robert in the middle of the Carrick a Rede Rope Bridge, Causeway Coastal Route, Ireland.
Dunluce Castle near Ballycastle, Ireland. In the year 1639 part of its kitchen along with seven cooks fell into the Irish Sea.
The gorgeous cliffs of Northern Ireland, Causeway Coastal Route
Maura, Robert and Jarlath at Giant's Causeway.
One of the explanations of these unique hexagonal columns is that they were created by molten lava coming into contact with water 65 million years ago. The lava was rapidly cooled and caused the rocks to crack in these shapes. Another explanation is the columns were laid out by two dueling giants, one based in Northern Ireland and one based in Scotland, in an attempt to get closer to each other to settle a debate.
If Jennifer, Jarlath and Maura formed a rock band, they would have to title their first album, "Giant's Causeway" and they would have to use this photo as the album cover.
Tiny church a few meters from the Irish Sea. We think we remember Jarlath saying that this is the smallest church in Ireland.
Jennifer walking on the beach in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland
Through this gate and up the lane is where Robert's Great-Grandfather, Daniel McGrath, was born. It's a really cool feeling to travel to another country and see with your own eyes where your ancestors came from.
This is the church that Robert's Great-Grandfather, Daniel McGrath, attended before emigrating to America in the year 1900.
The beautiful wildflowers along the side of the road, County Clare, Ireland.
Dunguaire Castle, between Galway and the Cliffs of Moher
Jennifer taking in some music and a pint at a pub in Galway, Ireland
Jennifer and Robert at the Cliffs of Moher
On June 13th, we flew from Dublin to Chicago, the last flight of our trip. We then took a bus back to Wisconsin, where we're posting from now. We're at that seemingly far away place that during the trip we always referred to as "back home". It's strange but wonderful for us to be back in Wisconsin. 'Re-entry' Culture Shock is a very real thing, especially after being away for such a long time.
We're going to send out one last post in which we'll disclose our lists of favorites, including our favorite photos and videos, along with a few trip statistics. Stay tuned.
The long-anticipated reunion! She had to smell us to believe it.
Port Washington, WI, just a couple of days after we got home. We did it!