I have been trying, but, in these few days, I will never fully sort out Irish heritage. It is a mix of influences from many peoples including the ancient Celts, the Vikings, Normans, English and Spanish. But the Irish today seem like a homogeneous folk who are polite, friendly, chatty, easily amused, hard working, and extremely proud of their heritage. We have already experienced all these characteristics first hand: They will always give you a break in traffic, even in busy Dublin and Galway. Ask for directions and they will tell you their life history. In the streets, shops, and pubs they smile, laugh, and sing. Every Irish family seems to have a brother, niece, cousin, or uncle in America so they enjoy interacting with us and like to guess where we are from based on our American accents; so far, all have guessed me from California—go figure.
But all is still not well in the Republic, and we experienced this first hand as well! In Kenmare, one of our favorite West Coast villages where we stayed two nights, we walked around the corner to find the traffic stopped by Army vehicles while soldiers carrying automatic weapons were standing on every corner. An old Irishman next to us leaned over and said, “You might think its over, but its not over. Don’t take any photos.” Of course, he was referring to the Catholic-Protestant and North versus Republic conflicts. He explained that when there are major monetary transfers made from bank to bank, the Army protects the transfers.
So this was another surprise among many surprises we have had in this otherwise delightful place. I can’t wait to see what we will discover and encounter in Waterford, city of Viking and English invasions, and, or course, Waterford Crystal.