This is post #14 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:
#10, Torc Waterfall, and
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.
“No description is possible. I can only say, go and see.”–Dinah Maria Craik
As Leah and I made our way to our last B & B in Ireland, I felt both thankful to God and so sad that we’d be leaving soon. I wanted to stay much longer. The next town we stayed in was Kilkenny.
We know for sure that Leah’s relatives on her dad Ray’s side originally came from Ireland. It is also possible that my own relatives from my dad’s side were, too. He has done a lot of genealogy work on both sides of our family.
I had done some research before traveling to Ireland and found the location of a castle that very strongly could have belonged to our family’s clan, if we indeed have Irish roots.
I wanted to visit this family’s fortress that is located in the remote countryside on a huge rock and built in the 9th century, but it would add an extra hour going to Kilkenny. Leah had not slept the night before in Kenmare, and was exhausted, so I decided not to do it this trip. It would be almost three hours long as it was. She slept much of the way in the car.
On the way there, I needed to go to the restroom and saw that the convenience store where I was stopping had that delicious Irish ice cream cones, which was even better.
Parking is often a problem in Ireland. I had pulled into the convenience store parking lot, and didn’t see any spaces, so I decided to pull out into the highway to my right and enter the parking lot to look for a space again. Driving in Ireland requires a mental shift, because you drive on the left side of the road, from the front right seat, which is opposite of what Americans do.
I looked to my left but didn’t look carefully enough to my right to see if any traffic was coming toward us, and just as I was about to pull out into the two-lane highway, a semi truck came barreling toward us (on my right). I literally felt wind from the truck and it moved my outside mirror!
It was a VERY close call. The semi almost hit us. If it had, I truly believe that Leah and I would be DEAD! GOD AND HIS ANGELS HAD PROTECTED US! Thank God no one was hurt!
It badly shook me up. I found a parking space in the convenience store lot after that, and I sat a few minutes with my head on the steering wheel, thank God for His protection and literally shaking from fear. Leah was shaken, too.
The semi truck driver actually stopped his truck and came back to check on us as I went inside to use the restroom and buy an ice cream cone. Later, I drew a stick figure cartoon when writing a letter to my sister Maria, about Ireland’s ice cream cones solving any crisis. (I sometimes use humor to cope with life!)
I bought Leah a cold drink and she sat in the car, working on her tablet. I stood outside in the fresh air, taking a break and enjoying my cone, still thanking God for watching over us. One of the things I’d specifically asked my family and friend intercessors to pray for me traveling was that we would NOT get into any wrecks or be hurt in any way. God answers prayer! It’s important to get prayer cover every day, but especially when you are traveling!
After that, because I was so shaken up from the incident, I made several wrong turns and missed the highway going to Kilkenny. Leah became frustrated and said that she was just ready to go home and be in her own bed, and would be glad when she was not having to deal with me driving. This really hurt my feelings, but I realized it was stress-related.
By this time, we were both tense from the near-accident with the semi and tired from traveling. Be alert to fatigue, hunger, anxiety, and stress when you’re on a trip. The Waze app on my iPhone helped us so much to navigate in Ireland and not get lost (majorly!), but at times the road signs didn’t match what the GPS was saying, and I’d try to go by road signs instead. This would annoy Leah, who asked me why bother with the GPS if I wasn’t going to use it? Good point!
Eventually we got to Kilkenny and we both calmed down when we were able to find a parking garage and a place to eat–this time, we opted for American food and ate cheeseburgers and fries!
Then we found our last B & B. When we first pulled up to the B & B, nobody was there. I had visions of us sleeping in our car the last night of our stay in Ireland and prayed silently, “Not now, God!” Another guest had parked his car in the lot, waiting, smoking a cigarette, and telling me that maybe the owner had the time to meet us wrong.
Then a few minutes later the hostess drove up in her car, smiling and waving at us. I sighed with relief! As usual, the place was beautiful and clean.
Our room had yellow curtains, comfortable quilts, pretty wall art, and was cheery. I was so thankful we stayed here the last night of our stay! The tea and chocolates that the hostess had waiting for us were a welcome refuge after a long drive. This was such a pretty B & B!
One thing I loved doing at each B & B was taking a hot shower after our drive there and getting into my comfy pj’s! I think I only saw one bathtub our entire stay in Ireland!
The B & B hostess looked at Leah when she met her and said to me, “She is so beautiful!” I smiled and agreed, “Yes, she is!” This blessed Leah and made her smile. She looked so cute in her dress and flip flops!
I’m glad we went to town first before the B & B. We parked in a garage and walked around the town square a bit, then ate our cheeseburgers and fries at the American restaurant. This was one of the hardest towns to find good parking, so you might locate parking on your GPS before going into town. You have to pay for the parking there, usually a pound or a couple of pounds. It’s best to have both coins and dollars on you at all times for parking expenses. I didn’t see any machines that take credit/debit cards.
The Kilkenny Castle looked interesting, but it was getting late. Leah was wearing a dress and flip flops and it was getting cold and windy, so we decided not to tour it this time. We needed to get to our B & B and do last minute packing before flying back to the United States the next morning. The castle was built in 1195 and was a symbol of Norman occupation. The garden has a fountain and beautiful flowers.
As usual there were street musicians in town, such as a saxophone player and a harpist. As we passed the harpist, I quickly took a picture and suddenly Leah said, “You always do that.” I asked, “What?” She said, “You never stop and listen to the music. You just take pictures and go on.”
Leah is a musician, so of course she listens to music intently. But her remark about me surprised and convicted me. We need to pause, look, listen, and enjoy this life, especially with our loved ones. I stopped walking and listened with her to the harpist playing so beautifully.
I saw a mom and her kids and also two women sitting and chatting by the harpist. We all need friends in our lives! I’m so thankful and glad that my beautiful, precious daughters are also my friends!
Since Leah and I had bought souvenirs for family and friends, and had dirty laundry, we had to repack everything that night. I checked in for our flights online as Leah did her college homework. The next morning we’d have to get up early at 4:15 AM to be able to leave at 5 AM for the airport.
Unfortunately, we did not have time to explore Dublin. I would have liked to seen the Book of Kells, which is a beautifully illuminated Gospel book containing the four gospels, dating back to the 9th century. Maybe our next trip!
We’d have to get gas on the way and then refill the tank completely before turning in our car to the rental agency, or they charge you extra!
I knew we were also taking a major highway in Dublin, where we’d have to pay a toll. If you don’t pay the tolls in Ireland, you can be fined, sometimes pretty heavily. Leah and I never saw a sign where to pay the toll. She told me to ask about it when I refueled the car at a gas station, and I was able to pay the toll there–her prophetic gifting!
I was nervous about having a flat tire or getting lost on the way to the airport, and missing our international flight. I did take one wrong turn, but we quickly found out way back. There was no problem at all turning in the rental car.
Since we arrived at the airport at 7:10 AM, we had some time for me to buy the remaining souvenirs (duty-free) and for us to eat breakfast before catching our flight. I wanted to try an Irish coffee (with Bailey’s Irish cream) before I left Ireland!
Be sure you have PLENTY of time to go through customs and security when you’re flying internationally! I thought we’d have enough time eating breakfast and getting our last souvenirs. In the customs’ line, I even asked an agent if we were going to make our flight okay and he looked at our plane tickets and said yes.
As soon as we got out of customs, another agent told us our plane had already taken off and we had missed our international flight! We were RUNNING to our gate to see if somehow we could make it, but we didn’t! I felt this was a good teaching moment for Leah how travel can really be sometimes!
God gave us favor. The gate agents told me that normally we’d have to pay EXTRA to change flights, but they were putting us on another plane for FREE. Thank God! This actually worked to our ADVANTAGE later, as it allowed us to make all US flights back to Kansas City, that I had been worried about due to the short time between catching flights!
There wasn’t a lot of choices when I originally booked the return flights, but I got the best one even though it looked “iff” and prayed for God to work out things for us! He answered that prayer!
On the final flight back home to Kansas City, Leah put on her sleep mask and used her neck pillow that I had bought her to try to get some sleep. I felt so terrible for her as she was so exhausted. Then we had a drive in the car at the airport parking lot, that was over an hour long getting to our home!
Fortunately Leah and I both were able to catch up on sleep the week after we arrived home in the states. This pic below shows how tired she was, asleep on the final plane, but she had lots of fun and so did I!
What an amazing trip to Ireland. Thank You, Jesus! My heart is overflowing with gratitude that You answer prayer and make our big dreams come true!
In my next post in this Ireland Blog Series, I’ll share pics of the beautiful Saint Mary’s Cathedral and a few others, and wrapping up this blog series on our trip to Ireland. Stay tuned!