Welcome Christy Nicholas, the author of Ireland: Mythical, Magical, Mystical; a Guide to Hidden Ireland!
My name is Christy Nicholas, also known as Green Dragon. I do many things, including digital art,
Here is Christy's spin on the topic I presented her: Write a short post about a trip that changed you. Whether it's a trip across the world or a twist on a trip to the local grocery store.
Go back, into the mists of time, years ago - when I was just 26. I was young, working a good job (I'm an accountant) and I came across an ad at my local New Age Store on a trip to England, to get in touch with 'Mystical Britain'. I'd always wanted to go to England, so I thought, why not? The group trip was for one week, so I arranged to be there for two weeks, and join the group in the second half of my trip.
I had a boyfriend at the time, but he couldn't get off work, so I planned to go solo. Now, I'd never traveled anywhere on my own, and I'd never gone on any real vacations before. This was the first
time I'd had a job good enough to offer paid vacation time! But I did some research and I was able to afford it, so off I went. I had lived in Miami since I was 8, and Detroit before that- I didn't fear
traveling alone, I knew I could take care of myself.
The first week would consist of 3 days in Ireland, 4 days in London, and then I'd meet the group for their week out in Somerset. I flew British Airways- and on the flight, tasted my first scone, with clotted cream and strawberry jam. Heaven! We landed in London, but I went right back on a plane and over to Dublin. I had vouchers for 3 nights B&B, a rental car, and a reckless attitude!
The first day I explored Dublin. I was giddy with excitement. I'd always been a fan of European history, especially Britain and Ireland. Seeing the Book of Kells opened my mind to the beauty that could be created by man, and the magic of that beauty. Seeing the sweeping cathedrals and imposing castles reinforced that impression. The second day I picked a road and drove north.
I found the Hill of Tara. I had researched the place, and wanted to connect with the millennia of Irish Kings who had been crowned on this spot. It was still quite early in the morning, 9 a.m., as I
climbed the smooth, grassy hills and earthworks, and I had the place entirely to myself. As I stood at the top of the hill, it looked as if I could see all of Ireland mapped out in front of me, a patchwork quilt of farms and homes. It was as if I could feel the power of the land, of the history, of all the people before me, rising up inside like a fountain, and bursting out through my skull. It was an incredibly moving experience, and I shall never forget it.
Oddly enough, the rest of my trip wasn't anti-climatic to that incredible experience. I felt awe and wonder at Glendalough, Powerscourt Falls, and then the sites I saw in London and Somerset. Each site was fantastic and moving - but none like that first time on the Hill of Tara.
I've been back to Tara twice since then, and it's not the same - perhaps because I am not alone, or because it is no longer a new experience. I will be going again in November, and will likely be alone again. We shall see if I can recapture that magic!
Excerpt from Mythical Ireland Tour:
Finding the Music
It would be difficult, indeed, to travel through Ireland for any length of time without coming across some of its unique music. However, it is becoming easier to come across 'prepared' performances, specifically made to entertain the tourists, glossy and polished without the authenticity of the real folk of the land. My advice is to go off the beaten path. Get out of Temple Bar and Killarney, and go to a local pub which might have a traditional seisiun. A seisiun (session) is a group of local musicians who have gotten together in a pub and just started playing some of the songs they all know. They may have never played together before, or may do so every night. They may not even know each other - but they all know the tunes. And they are playing for the joy of playing and entertaining. They aren't being paid by the Irish Tourist Board to provide atmosphere to the Euro-laden tourist...they are having fun. No, the music may not be as high in production value, but it's more honest, and in my opinion, much more enjoyable than the staged stuff.
If you are in a city, like Dublin, where tourism is common, it may be more difficult to find the local traditional pub. Your host at the hotel or B&B may give you the standard tourist answer and direct you to a staged performance. However, if you tell them you really are interested in a traditional session, they will likely give you a better recommendation. In some places, you can just walk down the street and follow your ears. Dingle, Doolin, Ardara, Donegal, Kilkenny - I've done this in all these places. There is a decent resource at Ireland Abroad online for those who wish see an online pub directory.
Christy's book can be found by clicking here to go to Tirgearrpublishing.com: http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Nicholas_Christy/ireland-guide.htm
Christy will be giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Certificate to one randomly chosen commenter. Leave a comment, question, thought or even just a hello and follow the tour by clicking here for more chances to win.
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