Fascinating Ireland: North and south | Travels with Marilyn

To kiss the Blarney Stone, you must climb the steps at Blarney Castle to r each the very top.

To kiss the Blarney Stone, you must climb the steps at Blarney Castle to r each the very top.

Ireland continues to be one of the most popular travel destinations in the world. It seems everyone is a “little bit Irish,” and a trip to the Emerald Isle is always at the top of travel bucket lists.

Famous travel guru Rick Steves writes, “Ireland drips with mystery, drawing you in for a closer look and then surprising you. Pious, earthy, witty, brooding, proud, yet unpretentious, Irish culture is an intoxicating potion to sip or slurp — as the mood strikes you.”

That just about sums up every thought I had when I traveled there in April 2013 with the Chamber Travel Club. Those who traveled with me felt the same.

The history is all-consuming, the green, green landscape is almost blinding for those of us coming from this high desert environment, and it’s the passionate people we found so fascinating.

Ireland is not just Dublin, Waterford crystal, Blarney Castle and quaint villages. Two separate governments divide Ireland, the south governed by the Republic of Ireland, part of the European Union (EU) using the Euro. Northern Ireland is a separate entity — separate government, separate currency. Still part of Great Britain, it’s the British Pound Sterling that is the currency.

Until recently, travel to Northern Ireland was not easy and most tour operators favored tours to the south. That has changed and Collette Vacations now includes a visit to Northern Ireland as part of its 12-day visit.

Of course, the visit begins in Dublin, home of the Guinness brewery and Trinity College. I loved walking through the old college library with its ancient books dating back to 1592, featuring the famous Book of Kells. Then to Kilkenny and a visit to the House of Waterford Crystal. The best comes next! The opportunity to kiss the Blarney Stone — if you dare! I didn’t dare.

You’ll see the Ring of Kerry and the Cliffs of Moher before traveling to Northern Ireland where you spend the night in a 19th Century manor house. Then on to Derry, the only completely walled city left in Ireland. This city is rich in history and you’ll meet with residents who will tell you of their Bloody Sunday experience. Then on to Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland. Your last night will be spent at Cabra Castle back in the Republic of Ireland, ending your trip back in Dublin. I loved the castle stay and the final night dinner.

Almost no ancient stone will be left unturned on this trip. A word of caution: This is not a tour for everyone, but perfect for those who love history, grand scenery and whatever adventure one may find along the way while enjoying a brew or two in an Irish pub. There will be lots of packing and unpacking with two nights in Dublin, two nights in Killarney and two nights in Derry. There are five one-night stays, but the upside is that you will be seeing most of this magical island. There won’t be any backtracking.

Ireland and other 2017 Collette Vacation planned trips will be discussed at the free Chamber Travel Club meetings on Monday, Jan. 23. Meetings are scheduled at 10 a.m. or 2 p.m. at the Chamber at 1900 S. Carson St. Call 775-882-1565 for availability.

Marilyn Foster is a consummate traveler and always has a trip or two planned ahead. She will turn 88 the end of January and doesn’t let her age get in the way of traveling and enjoying every minute of it.


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