Bunratty Folk Park: the waterfall, the lamb, & the fairy village

This is post #4 of a blog series I’m writing including pictures of the recent amazing trip I took with our precious, beautiful daughter Leah. Here are posts #1, My daughter Leah and I went to Ireland,  #2, Ireland: Dreams Come True, and #3, We visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland.

We took so many pictures with our phones that I need to break up the posts, to make it easier for you to read, as I know you live a busy, hectic life like mine and you don’t have lots of spare time!

I hope these blogs inspire and bless you. I thank my Lord Jesus Christ, who made this amazing opportunity and prayer possible.

“Ireland was a place for the renewal of hope and I still see it like that.”–Daniel Day-Lewis

Me at Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Me at Cliffs of Moher, Ireland

My heart is aching to go back to Ireland! My and our daughter Leah’s vacation there was just too short! I believe I’ll go back again one day and am already praying about this!

Bunratty Folk Park tea shop
Bunratty Folk Park Tea Room

Before Leah and I visited Bunratty Castle in Ireland, we walked around Bunratty Folk Park, which is right by it. It’s a quaint little village filled with rural, primitive homes and shops, reminiscent of the 19th Century.

The first place we saw was the Tea Room, where visitors were drinking tea and enjoying scones. The scones in Ireland are delicious! They are light, fluffy, and sweet, reminding me of a combination between a biscuit and a little cake. They’re often served with butter and jams.

scones
scones

The houses and buildings in Bunratty Folk Park are recreated and furnished as they would have appeared at that time according to their social standing, from the poorest one-room house to Bunratty House, a Georgian residence of the last family who occupied Bunratty Castle. Leah seemed especially interested in the poor one-room house, which had a sign hanging on it outside that the servant worked for 80 days for the landlord on the land, renting the house, and after that he owned the house. Most of the houses were simple and plain, with a thatched roof. 

Leah reading sign at One-room house in village
Leah reading sign at one-room house in village

Several of the houses had chickens or other animals in the yard or nearby, such as goat, pigs, and chickens. Each family had to provide for their own needs in food, clothing, and supplies. I took a pic of the pig for our red-headed granddaughter Violet, who adores pigs!

Our beautiful red-headed granddaughter Violet
Our beautiful red-headed granddaughter Violet

I love sheep and was happy to get a pic of this one lone lamb grazing in a pasture. It reminded me of how Jesus is the Good Shepherd who loves His sheep and takes care of them, something God has been speaking to me much about the last several years. Jesus talked about the Good Shepherd leaving the 99 to go after the one lost lamb. (Matthew 18:12) My song for this year which has this theme is Reckless Love by Cory Asbury

Leah liked the two Irish wolfhounds, although they were sleeping when we looked at them. Historically, the wolfhound was a dog that only nobles could own and was taken up by the British during their rule in Ireland. It’s been adopted as a symbol by the national rugby league team and the Irish Rugby Football Union.

I took a pic of these pigs for Violet!
I took a pic of these pigs for Violet!

 

a lamb grazing in a pasture
a lamb grazing in a pasture

 

Irish wolfhounds
Irish wolfhounds

 

Black chicken and duck in village
Black chicken and duck in village

Although I couldn’t wait to drive to the Cliffs of Moher (one of the main reasons I wanted to see Ireland), I’m so happy that Leah and I walked around this village in the cool, peaceful outdoors. Leah loves nature like me, and I felt this time ministered to her soul.

Bunratty Folk Park
The path in the village at Bunratty Folk Park

The houses were quite primitive, decorated with old furniture like tables, beds, and hope chests and a few kitchen items.

bed & hope chest
bed & hope chest

 

kitchen cupboard with dishes
kitchen cupboard with dishes

 

house table & pitcher
house table & pitcher

I could hardly believe we were walking around in Ireland; it felt surreal! It is so green, just like you’ve heard and imagined. One of the first things we saw in the village was a small but beautiful waterfall. I love waterfalls, so this really blessed me!

village waterfall
village waterfall

 

me by village waterfall
me by village waterfall

Another cool thing we saw in the village was a water mill, which is a mill that uses hydropower. It is a structure that uses a water wheel or water turbine to drive a mechanical process such as milling (grinding), rolling, or hammering.

village windmill
village windmill

 

windmill wheel
windmill wheel

 

windmill water
windmill water

At one house, there was a marble scuplture that was so pretty of the Virgin Mary and child Jesus.

marble statue in village
marble statue in village

The village also had a pretty church. 

village church
village church

 

church in village
church in village

 

ornate wooden pews in church
ornate wooden pews in church

 

stone floor in church
stone floor in church

 

church door
church door

 

church baptismal
church baptismal

 

podium where the priest stands
podium where the priest stands

Bunratty Folk Park also had a quaint fairy village for children. Ireland is well known for “lucky” four-leaf clovers, a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, leprechauns, fairies, ghost stories, and other folklore. While I believe much of this is demonic in nature, Leah and I both thought the fairy door in a tree was cute.

At the big mushroom park, a mom was taking pics of her children. Afterward she said to them, “Fabulous pic! Wow!” Her little boy ran off saying like a parrot, “Oh wow, wow, wow!” Both Leah and I laughed.

sign for fairy village
sign for fairy village

 

fairy door in a tree

 

cute play area where little boy said, "Oh wow, wow, wow!"
cute play area where little boy said, “Oh wow, wow, wow!”

There was also a pretty flower garden in the village. This reminded me a little of The Secret Garden, a book and a movie that we read and watched when I homeschooled Leah when she was younger, that she enjoyed. Homeschooling our kids has given me some of my most precious, sweetest memories, especially when we went on fun field trips.

I’m so glad I was able to go on this trip to Ireland with Leah and make more good memories!

garden in the village
garden in the village

 

village garden flowers
village garden flowers

I don’t know what these red flowers are named, but Leah and I both thought they were unique and beautiful. The garden also had sunflowers, some of my favorite flowers. Each time I see flowers, I think of my beautiful daughter Heather. Heather’s name comes from a beautiful, purple-blue flower that covers hills and is found widely in Europe.

unique red flowers
unique red flowers

 

red flowers
red flowers

 

I love sunflowers!
I love sunflowers!

In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share about our visit to the Cliffs of Moher–the highlight of the trip for Leah and me both. Be sure to check out the beautiful pics!

Leah at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
Leah at the Cliffs of Moher, Ireland
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When everything around you is falling, and all else fails, eat chips and salsa

chips and salsa
chips and salsa

Today I made a mini-escape from hurts this week and I drove to Harrisonville, Missouri, which is a bigger city north of my tiny, rural town (meaning out in the sticks!) of Butler, and ate Mexican. 

I posted the pic on Instagram and Twitter with the title, “When everything is falling apart around you, and all else fails, eat chips and salsa. I could eat it every single day!” I love them so much, and my husband Ray jokes that when the Mexican waiters see me coming, they hide the salsa because I always ask for two bottles. I add salt to the salsa, because I seem to crave the salt.  Today’s seemed especially satisfying.

Afterward, I went to the Harrisonville Lake and park, where I often took our children when I homeschooled them to play, for picnics, and to walk the nature trail. Today was a beautiful, sunny, spring day. It was peaceful and relaxing.

Harrisonville Lake
Harrisonville Lake

A man was fishing at the lake, and it reminded me of my hard-working husband Ray, who loves to fish and who desperately needs to fish sometimes.

“And he said to them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19, AKJV)

Two geese were near the fisherman and I saw numerous geese at the park.

Fisherman and geese
Fisherman and geese

Going to the lake and walking the nature trail was a much needed, healing balm to my soul. God spoke to my heart in many ways while I was there. Some of this I will share about here,  and some I will continue to reflect on and ponder.

The first thing I noticed as I entered the park were the beautiful flowers. Our beautiful daughters Heather and Leah especially love fresh flowers, and I thought of them.

beautiful flowers
beautiful flowers at park entrance
daisies
daisies
fuschia colored flowers
fuschia colored flowers
flower garden
flower garden

As I got out of my car to admire the lake, I noticed an older woman sitting at a bench with a dog on a leash. I wondered about her, and thought I could write about her in a future fiction book. For writers, anything is fodder. My family knows by now that anything they say or do may wind up as content for one of my speaking presentations, books, or blog posts!

woman with dog at park
woman with dog at park

Who was she? Why was she alone at the lake, except with her dog? Had her husband of many years died and she was a lonely widow? Had her children forgotten her or no longer wanted her involved much in her lives any more?

Was she a bitter, sad, depressed person, or was she simply happy and content being alone, being with her dog who was her best friend? (Maybe she was glad her husband was dead as they had a terrible marriage, and that her kids were all grown; it was time for a new chapter and do other things now!)

I watched as a grandpa who was wearing  a jacket with a veterans logo showed his granddaughter the lake and pointed to the geese, and her daddy skipped stones across the lake with her. What a precious memory. After awhile, they started to go to their car and asked the little girl, “Are you ready to go and eat now? Want a hot dog?”

The hot dog remark reminded me of my mother’s eyes lighting up when she saw me and asking me that same question many years ago, when I visited her in my college years. My mom and I weren’t close, so this is a happy memory for me. I don’t eat them much now, but kids love ’em.

The veteran grandpa reminded me of my husband Ray, who is “Papa” to our four precious grandchildren, with one on the way.  I prayed that Ray would be able to do things like this for many years with our grandchildren.

Our kids and grandkids
Our precious 3 daughters and 4 grandkids

Next, I drove over to where the nature trail was. Perfect day for a walk. I noticed the staff had put up something new on the Natural Trail sign: “Watch out for snakes.” That was almost enough to make me turn around, but I put my brave on.  If I hadn’t gone on the trail, I would have missed God’s blessings–the beauty and how He spoke to me personally.

sign about snakes
sign about snakes

Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. I watched carefully for snakes, because I am terrified of them. However, I did think seeing one (from a very safe distance) might make a good picture for my blog. That didn’t happen, although I did see what I thought might be a “snake track” (a big S on the dirt trail) a couple of times.

I did notice right away in the lake what seemed to be a family of turtles sunbathing on a log.  One was swimming in the water nearby. Two bigger ones were on one side of the log, and seven others were on the other. It reminded me of our family, who has this exact number of people right now–with one grandbaby on the way in November.

turtles
turtles

The nature trail is so beautiful. I felt refreshed, while at the same time my heart was still hurting about some things that happened this week. I know healing is a process and takes time. The good news is that we are all walking on this journey of life, and God will never leave us or forsake us.  He is our healer, including our family’s. 

“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts. … There is something infinitely healing in the repeated refrains of nature — the assurance that dawn comes after night, and spring after winter.”—Rachel Carson, Silent Spring

nature trail

I soon came to a fork in the road on the trail. We all have a choice as to how we will live our lives–to follow Jesus and God’s loving, good ways, or not. Which path will you choose today?

The fork spoke loudly to me about how I needed to change some things in my life and choose a different path…as well as others I love. 

fork in the trail
fork in the trail

I felt myself relax as I walked the trail. I intentionally breathed in the fresh air, tried to fully use my senses, and paid attention  all around me to the beauty of God’s creation.

I stopped when I saw two bees drinking nectar from a white flower bush. I wish I knew the name of the flowers; they resembled azaleas in south Georgia, where I grew up.

“One can no more approach people without love than one can approach bees without care. Such is the quality of bees…”–Leo Tolstoy

I tried to capture a picture of them, but they were flying too fast. Probably a good thing that I went on, as I”m highly allergic to bees! As a child, I was stung by one on the bare foot, and my foot swelled up twice its size! However, I think bees are cute (when they aren’t stinging!)

bees
bees

This fork on the trail led to a bridge over the lake into a more remote part of the woods. A mom and her daughter were having a picnic in the middle of the bridge! It was so cute.  Another sweet memory. I remembered picnics Ray and I had with each other and our kids.

I didn’t want to interrupt their fun, or make them have to move by crossing the bridge, so I turned around and walked on the other path. When I saw the bridge, I thought again of the fork on the trail and the choices we have in life, and took my pic by it as  a good reminder…also of the eventual, eternal bridge we’ll have to cross one day when we die.

bridge
bridge

Later I saw the mom and the little girl, and chatted a minute with them.

She apologized for being on the bridge having the picnic, blocking my access to it, but I said, “Oh no, you were fine! That looked really fun. They grow up fast,” I said to her, and we looked at her child together, smiling.

The mom said, “Oh, I know! I have a teen now!” she said that her little girl had been a “surprise baby,” and was now 5 years old.  I said I hoped they enjoyed their picnic and to have fun. To my amusement, as I walked off, the little girl said, “I want to go with her!” and started following me. Her mom called her back to look at the turtles again.

This spoke to me about how we are to follow Jesus, and make disciples. 

As I continued on the trail, I looked up hearing birds singing, and the sunlight shone through the tall trees. The canopy of trees, their emerald green leaves dipped in sunlight, made beautiful pictures.

sun through the trees
sun through the trees

 

canopy
canopy

I was disappointed to not see a deer, rabbit, fox or other wildlife, but Harrisonville isn’t a rural town, so the animals are either not there or they hide well. I did see a couple and their child with a dog on the trail, who they said was a service dog in training for the man’s dad who was in the Army and now has PTSD. I stopped a minute to pet the dog, smile at the little girl, and tell them that service dogs are a good thing and I hope he helps his dad.

When I came to the end of the trail, I thought, “At the end of the trail. Now what?” I felt it applied to my current situation, kind of at a loss as to what to do or say.  I would have to turn back around. I also feel it applies to the end of our journey here on earth.

end of trail
end of trail

I looked around and saw a set of steps on a hill. I’d never seen them before.  Curious, I went up the stairs to see what was up there. It was a different lake, or perhaps the same lake, divided by the road. But you couldn’t see it until you went up the stairs. This reminded me of heaven.

The lake where the stairs were
The lake where the stairs were

When I turned around and walked back, this is when I saw the mom and her daughter, who had the picnic on the bridge. A few minutes later, as I went to my car, I saw them crossing the road, hand in hand. The little girl was carrying a walking stick in the other hand. I looked at them, thinking again how quickly time flies and that my children are now grown. 

The mom and the daughter went to the park area, where the little girl got on the slides, and her mom sat on a bench watching her. 

mom & child
mom & child

As I drove home, I noticed a truck in front of me with this sign: “You’re needed.” That was a great note to go home on.

You're needed
You’re needed
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