We spent the bank holiday weekend in Donegal with his mother. His brother was also up with his girlfriend and the baby. (who looks like a little kewpie doll. So Cute!) His sister lives there, as does one of his younger brothers. It was a really nice time. There was eating, drinking and watching X Factor. I’m happy to report that all the Irish artists made it through.

The weather was spectacular! Sunny, relatively mild with a nice autumn bite to the breeze, and changing colors everywhere. One of our favorite spots is a secluded little beach in the NW. We packed croissants and a thermos of tea for breakfast on the beach. There aren’t enough words in the English language to describe the beauty of the place. The depth of color and variation of pattern take my breath every time. He said County Clare had competition for my heart, and I think he’s right!

On the drive home Monday we stopped in Tyrone to see a Sheela na Gig. Ireland has the greatest number of these carvings, which are found on old churches and castles. She is the Divine Hag, symbol of winter, death, and rebirth. (most Academics disagree with this interpretation, rather seeing her as a medieval warning against female lust) Her back to the North Wind, facing the warmth of the South, she spreads open her exaggerated vulva. We must all face the cold wind of Death some day. Please Mother, let it not be this day.

This particular Sheela is nestled into the wall of a crumbled church, perched atop a swelling rise. It’s a gentle site with many old grave stones, some dating to the 18th century. The best part of hunting these remote places is the drive on twisty, single lane roads. Little more than paved foot path, these lanes travel through the heart of the country. This is where I see the “real” Ireland. Working farms that look and smell like home. I often drift into memory and imagine my little grandfather whistling under his breath as he herded cattle ….he could have fit easily into this landscape. Back to the highway…..

The Funniest thing happened on the way to the forum….I mean, the N2. As we eased past Omagh I saw a sign that read “Dublin 124”. Not far now. We drove on another 20 minutes or so, when I saw a sign that read “Dublin 148”. Thoroughly confused at this point, I ask whether signs in the North are posted in miles instead of kilometers. Nope, KM all the way. Hmmm. Time warp? Worm hole? He theorized that perhaps the shorter distance was indicated for travel on the M1, not the local roads we were taking. Satisfied with that, we enter Louth where we both see the sign “Dublin 128”. WHAT??? Then just 3 minutes later….”Dublin 84”.

Now, I don’t know about you, but I think some Paddy, somewhere, is having a grand laugh at all the motorists scratching their heads as they make the long journey home.

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