The Ireland I Love..

As is already familiar to those of you who have actually poked around on this space a bit, I am one of those quintessential software engineers from Bengaluru. I work in the field of Biometric Identification and am totally in love with what I do! And as much as I love what I do, I am also emotionally connected to my company.  Nearly five and half years now, I guess, I can confidently say that I really am indebted to my job and my company.  Of the many things that I love about it, one of my personal favorite is my frequent visits to Ireland.

This year Ireland is celebrating it’s 100th year of the Easter Rising – their first rebellion against the British rule. I am right now in Ireland and in many ways, this visit is a very crucial one for me – personally and professionally.  I have reached a stage, where I cannot confidently say how many times I have visited Ireland unless I look into the passport and count the number of arrival stamps printed on those pages. These visits have always been like personal getaways – those moments when I get to reconnect with myself, do things that I like to do – experiment with different cuisines, cook, travel around, visit museums, sleep in on weekends! I am a person who is not too keen about taking pictures! When am traveling I would rather soak in the surroundings than be concerned with the lighting and angle and exposure and such annoyances. I have often seen people more concerned with working out the right angle on the camera than actually cherishing the view or the object! But then, that’s my view! Maybe, they find the view so amazing that they want to freeze it and cherish it forever!  What I do in my mind, they may do it in their frames! In short, I am not a person too keen on photography.

But this visit, crucial as it is, also prompted me to let go of this constraint. As I embark on new avenues, I figured that it would be worthwhile to capture some moments.  However, this letting go wasn’t a conscious decision! Some of the places I visited this time around, compelled me to click pictures! I didn’t bother too much about the intricacies of a shoot ofcourse! I just took aim and shot! That’s all! It was either a hit or a miss! But it certainly did capture my heart! So here’s a small overview of everything that is so beautiful and lovely about this tender country – The Ireland!

Glendalough (pronounced Glan-de-lock): Though I was talking about the places I visited this time, I would be doing a grave injustice if I didn’t write about Glendalough that I visited last year. Ireland is an amazingly green place! The number of parks and trails that this place has is just unbelievable! I hope they preserve these at any cost! Having seen how much the unbridled, disgusting and disgraceful real estate greed has eaten up the culture and greenery of Bangalore, I hope and pray that Dublin and Ireland would never see it! Glendalough is one such beautiful National park is the Wicklow County – about an hour or so bus drive from Dublin. There are bus services that run everyday from Dublin City Centre (the bus stop is very close to St. Stephen’s Green) to Glendalough. The entry to the park is free! People can purchase a route map for 25 cents and start exploring the place. There are different walking trails that have been marked for the convenience of the visitors and the difficulty level for each is mentioned too. The park has two beautiful lakes and the remains of what was once upon a time a Christian monastery and a miner’s village. It’s a perfect weekend day-long getaway to lose one self amidst the lush greenery and history by the side! And if you are lucky enough, a herd of deer or a fox may even show up to greet you! 🙂

Killiney: Very close to Dun Laoghaire (pronounced Dun – Leary!!!) is a sub-urban seaside trekking point – the twin Dalkey and Killiney route. You can either take the DART (sub-urban railway) to Dalkey or Killiney and walk to the Killiney Hill. While there are different ways to get up to the Killiney Hill from the Dart station, for those who don’t mind a bit of uphill walk, I’d recommend a road that goes through the calm residential areas right alongside the Killiney Hill and brings you to one of its many entrances.  Since the thoroughfare is very less, it is my personal favorite.  The hill itself isn’t too challenging but makes for a nice walk.  There are a couple of follies built on top of the hill and an Obelisk over seeing Dun Laoghaire on one side and the sea shore on the other.  An abandoned stone quarry and a small fort make up for other spots around but the walk is particularly refreshing. Hitting the area by 9 AM is ideal as not many people would be around and it helps find that tranquil and peaceful atmosphere to soak in – the chirping birds and happy dogs running around just put a smile on your face! There are many pathways that run deep into rocks and muddy terrains that tempt for an exploration! It doesn’t take more than 3-4 hours to cover the entire area of Killiney hill and on the way back, the lovely Dalkey village serves an excellent pit stop point for some refreshing lunch and some cone ice creams to rejuvenate yourself!

Cliffside Walk – Bray to Greystones: Bray is a beautiful coastal area – quite on the outskirts of Dublin city. The DART runs from Howth or Malahide on one side all the way to Bray or Greystones on the other. The travel towards Bray is particularly lovely as the DART runs along the coastline and the stretch from Bray to Greystones is a visual treat what with the cliffs on one side and the sea on the other. For those who would love to bask in this lovely environment, a provision has been made to walk alongside the cliffs all the way from Bray to Greystones – a distance of roughly 6.5 Kms. It is a must have experience when visiting Dublin. There is also an option to climb atop a hill that has a huge cross at its top, but the cliffside walk would be my personal favorite any time. Passing alongside the sea shore, one is greeted with lovely scenic views of the rocky terrain inhabited by Sea gulls, an occasional seal (if you are lucky) and a variety of birds.  There are old ruins of what was once a fort/castle on the cliffs but what takes the cake is the breathtaking view that dazzle the eyes for as long as we can see.  Upon reaching Greystones, a leisurely walk along the beach, some snacks and/or lunch should get the adrenalin pumped up again. For those who don’t mind, I’d definitely recommend walking back to Bray from Greystones and catching the DART back to the city, or else the DART runs directly from Greystones via Bray anyways.

Hell Fire Club/Montpelier Hill: Quite a weird name for a nice place. Isn’t it? Well not by the history of what’s there! There are stories of satan worshippers, black magic, evil clubs and what not! But what was once a hunters’ lodge eventually turned into a place for prostitution (hence maybe the place for satan’s followers!!) and debauchery. It seems that a story was eventually circulated to dissuade people from going to this place – isolated as it was from residential areas as it is. Well, eventually the club was destroyed in a fire accident and what remains now is just ruins of what was once a place for sensory pleasure.  But flesh aside, what the visitors can still feast on to this day is a breathe-taking view of the city of Dublin! Flanked by the Dublin mountains behind us, and the sprawling view of the city in the front, Montpelier Hill is a visual treat that enthralls the heart through the eyes! There are many walkways – one that runs around the hill is relatively easier when compared to the walkway that cuts across the hill and climbs up straight to the summit where the ruin is located. Spirits and supernatural aside, one can find little girls and boys playing around. A nice picnic bag and a sunny day should seal the deal.

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