Saturday, March 18, 2017

Happy St. Patrick's day!!!

Not living in Ireland, it is easy to forget such an important event like St. Patrick's day, and here I come to tell you my experience in Ireland, where the sky changes constantly like a carousel of clouds and light, the grass is "greener than yours" and the beer is thick and tasty.
Yes, my dear reader, Ireland, the land of the leprechauns, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, and the sweetness of the clover.
Ireland the green, Ireland the beauty, and Ireland the divided.
I would never forget its melancholic beauty in a winter day, as I arrived there. The first thing we needed to realise, as we reached Belfast was the currency. Coming from Paris, we had some cash, but only euros, and as we went to pay for our first meal, we had our wake up call:
"It is 12£" the guy at the checker said matter-of-factly
"Pounds?" I wondered being sure that Ireland adopted the Euro as currency.
"Yes..." he replied, not sure whether to laugh or being worried.
Then I remembered that Northern Ireland is part of the UK, and as such, they use their same currency, the British Pound.
Indeed, Ireland is a divided country and its history is quite restless, as the result of the battles between the British desire to annex the Irish territories and the desire of independence of the Irish people.
The conflicts between Britain and Ireland together with other internal unrests lasted for centuries, and only in 1998, with the Good Friday agreement, Irish people can live peacefully, yet in a divided country.

Unfortunately, I couldn't be there for the celebration of St. Patrick's day, but if you can, pay a visit to this amazing country; you will not be disappointed. Belfast is a charming city and is the capital of Northern Ireland. Its name comes from the Gaelige "Beal Feirste" or "mouth of the river" and even if it is not very big, you will find it extremely charming. It might have been because of the cold weather that invited us inside one of the many pubs, or maybe because of the friendliness of the people, or the sweetness of the little streets and beautiful country houses that made me want to call home, sell everything and remain there.

Of course, you cannot say you have been visited Ireland, if you don't see also its other part of the sky; the Irish, (non-British) part, and with that I mean of course the capital Dublin.
The city is geographically divided by the River Liffey, which has represented historically also a cultural divide, between the working class (northern part) and the middle/upper class (southern part).

Dublin has a lot to offer to the eager tourist, but if you want to understand the place and keep it in your heart forever, more than being excited with the monuments (which are anyway something to be visited), you should be excited with the pub's life.
During the day, you might be disappointed, but when the sun goes down, the pub is a place where to meet the most interesting people.
The social life turns around the pubs, and they serve as landmark to start the evening with the friends or to make new friends.
As the Irish capital, it keeps high the flag of an intimate and cozy city, something like Belfast, but with a more vibrant accent.

Therefore, something to be suggested is a visit to the Guinness enterprise center, where you can learn about how the famous beer is made and how to pour the perfect pint (you can also get your 'perfect pint certificate).

Of course, if you are going to have the perfect pint at the Guinnes factory, you cannot avoid paying a visit to the Jameson factory, where one of the finest whiskey is produced, and which I am sipping right now.

If you have some time to spend, don't miss the chance of a trip to Malahide village, and its castle. I can assure you, I have rarely seen such a lovely place like the Malahide village, which has a very long history, starting from 795 AD, when the Vikings settled in the area.

Having a nice walk, particularly if the weather is fine, will lead you to the Malahide castle, immersed in the bright green of the park, where to spend a great day, wondering about the times when it was built (12th century) for the Talbot family, which inhabited the castle until 1975 (for something like 800 years).

There is truly something magical in the Irish countryside and in its forests, I have no idea whether it is the influence of the old folk stories that has been told for generations, or because there is really something more. It is like the mystical creatures are still there hiding in the bushes, observing your move, or even mocking at you. 
Maybe it wasn't the wind through the trees the noise you heard, but the whispering of the faeries, or perhaps that cracking sound was a leprechaun observing you, and all of a sudden, the forest seems to take life, besides its natural inhabitants, and whatever you see or hear, it is not what you think it is.
Take care, my friends!

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