Visiting Ireland with Mom (and without Christian) · May 15, 06:17 AM

Note to those who just want the visuals: the link to the pictures is at the end.

Mom and I decided that traveling together in Ecuador in 2006 was so successful that we would do it again this year – but this time, to Ireland. The impetus came from an article I saw in the Irish times about a Georgia O’Keeffe exhibit at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. During a phone conversation in March, I threw the idea out there: “Hey Mom, wanna go see Georgia O’Keeffe in Dublin?” Mom, bless her, didn’t discount the idea immediately. Rather, she thought for a moment, and replied, “Honey, that sounds like a nice idea.”

Six weeks later we arrived in Dublin! We stayed for three days with my in-laws in Dalkey, traveled with them for three days in west Cork and Kerry, and then spent three days on our own in Clare and Galway before driving back to Dublin to fly home. Some of the highlights included:

  • Powerscourt House & Gardens, on the first day we arrived, which was the last fine day before the weather broke;
  • Chester Beatty Library, which is part of the Dublin Castle grounds
  • Irish Museum of Modern Art – not only O’Keeffe, but also Calder and Miró, housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmainham
  • Garinish Island – a subtropical garden in a temperate country
  • Blasket Islands – tho’ we just visited the Heritage Center in Dunquin, not the Islands themselves
  • Seeing my aunt-in-law again, this time at her new home in Mastergeehy, as well as meeting three of her and my father-in-law’s cousins
  • Learning how to drive a stick shift with my left hand, negotiate roundabouts, and follow Irish road signage
  • The Burren – amazing scenery, wonderful flowers, ancient monuments, a sheela-na-gigh—and terrifying roads. They seemed like paved footpaths to this wide-open-spaces Midwesterner! But still very much worth it – I think this part of the trip impressed me most of all.
  • Inishmore, Aran Islands – where we got a tour in a rented pony trap, had a beautiful warm day, and I sprained my ankle coming down the rocky path from Dún Aengus

This was my fifth or sixth visit to Ireland. It was a lot of fun to show my mother the country my husband comes from, tho’ odd to be the “native guide” in a place where I’m one of the foreigners. I finally got to see some of the rest of the island after having really only been in the Dublin area. I also got to hear more Hiberno-English and regional accents, as well as spoken Irish.

The latter particularly helped bring home something it’s taken time to realize: that yes, this is an English-speaking country now, and has been for centuries, but English is not the original language. It was overlaid on top of – better said, imposed upon – the native language, which now barely survives. Yet the native language influences the speech of those who only learn it in school and hardly ever use it. (One particular Irish reader of this post may say, “Susan, I’ve been telling you this for quite some time!” But I argue that experiencing knowledge is qualitatively different from just knowing it intellectually.) It’s not unlike the situation of the native languages vis-a-vis Spanish in much of Latin America – except that in most of Latin America, with the exception perhaps of Guaraní in Paraguay.

Anyway, here’s a link to the best of the pictures of our nine-day mother-daughter jaunt. Enjoy!


  1. Lovely pictures!

    — Liz · May 16, 05:20 AM · #