Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Luggage lost but paradise found in Ireland

Posted June 27, 2014

20 years of planning paid off. That’s how long I’d been preparing to visit Ireland. Something would always get in the way: A special job assignment. A tight budget. A major family event. But this year we finally made it to the Emerald Isle, and I am so glad we did.

The beauty of Ireland exceeded even my highest expectations. The food along the way was outrageously delicious. And the history of this charming land is magnificent and humbling at the same time.

It was not a fairytale script for my wife Cindy and me. I’ve been separated from my luggage before but not for FOUR days! I am still trying to find out why it took Aer Lingus and JetBlue that long to locate and deliver our bags. And I’m still waiting for an apology.

I have already apologized to my wife for my first day of driving in Ireland which included a close call in Cork. Fortunately I was able to navigate a gnarly situation and avoid a crash. Driving through towns and cities in Ireland is quite confusing and many of the country roads are very narrow. Toss in huge tour buses, bulky farm machines and weekend bicyclists and you’ve got a high adrenaline NASCAR-type of experience.

And let’s not forget – you drive on the left side of the road in Ireland. Your steering wheel is also on the opposite side. After a day or so, I got the hang of it and actually enjoyed the raw energy. But you'd better concentrate. Don’t even think about talking on your cellphone which against the law for drivers in Ireland. Both hands on the wheel and both eyes on the road.

The luggage nightmare and the traffic trauma left us in a ball of nerves for the first few days. That’s why our first stop out of Dublin was so welcome.

Gougane Barra in County Cork is an absolutely gorgeous and tranquil place. This mountain man felt right at home with the rhododendron in full bloom next to a 19th-century oratory on a lake. Gougane Barra was once the scene of a 6th-century monastery and is described on a historical marker as a holy and healing place. Many of the images in today’s musical slideshow were taken from an early morning stroll around the property. There is something truly magical about early morning light and the stillness of life in Ireland.

Country roads lined with walls of ancient stone led us southwest across the Beara Peninsula and eventually The Ring of Kerry. The journey took us past numerous historical ruins and the pretty pastels of towns. And the weather! As my dear friend and musical mentor Brian Dunning told me in Dublin: “You may have picked the perfect period to holiday in Ireland.” 72 degrees was the average high during our nine-day visit, and that is considered a heat wave. Rain was limited to a few sprinkles during our stay. That is why you see a lot of blue in my pictures.

Next week, I will tell you about our travels across the Dingle Peninsula. I am already working on a song inspired by that trip called "Dingle Divine."  When you see the pictures and hear about the history you’ll know what I mean.

Later on, I will write about the traditional Irish music scene in the town of Ennis. If only I had packed my pennywhistles! And the food – where I had the best meal of my life!


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Anita Woody Jun 28, 2014

    I'm going next week. Bill, may I suggest on your next visit pay some visits to the Boyne Valley and Newgrange near Dublin. Newgrange is a UNESCO World Heritage sight that is amazing.

  • busyb97 Jun 28, 2014

    Yes- driving on the left side of the road when you first arrive in a city can be an experience in itself! We first did this in Glasgow, Scotland. My husband did the steering and pedals, while I worked the stick-shift for him. Once we were further out of town and he was getting the hang of it, he then took over the whole operation. :)

    Someday, we want to get to Ireland too. For now, we'll live vicariously through your posts and pictures.

  • Coach Bud Jun 28, 2014

    AWESOME defines your pictures. I have visiting Ireland on my "bucket list". Your story and pictures inspire me to move it up on my bucket list. Thanks, Bill.

  • dollibug Jun 28, 2014

    Thanks for sharing this.

  • mcscotthuntley Jun 28, 2014

    Thank you for sharing this! Love the pics, music, and most of all the stories.

  • Forthe Newssite Jun 28, 2014
    user avatar

    Oh yea, and talk to Monica....she'll get you that apology and then some no doubt :) :)

  • Forthe Newssite Jun 28, 2014
    user avatar

    Great pics and love the story :)

  • billfranrichardson Jun 28, 2014

    Thank you for sharing your experience. Music, pictures and commentary showcase your talents.

Meet the Author
Bill Leslie