Week 77: Ireland

Well, first off I just want to say that I’m grateful to be home and writing my blog.  For a while this morning it didn’t look like we were going to make it home today.  That would not have been good.  But here is my week and I’ll get to that in a minute.

I am just continuing to work very hard every day to get caught up on regular work and to make progress on the Ireland border issues.  I enjoy the hard work but I don’t hardly even look up from my desk these days.  And I still feel like I have more work than hours left.

Wednesday we took our delightful sister missionaries (Chinese-speaking) out to dinner.  We had a baptism on Wednesday evening as well and on top of that I told the sisters from Dublin who were in town for exchanges that I would take them to the airport to catch their flight so dinner ended up being at Five Guys because that is the fastest place in town.  What a joy to spend a few minutes catching up with these girls.  I really love Sister Belliston from Michigan and Sister Orin from the Philippines.  These two girls are power-houses.  The work so hard and have brought several to the waters of baptism.

We have had a trip to Ireland planned for a couple months now so that Sister Gifford could see Ireland.  The Miller’s wanted to go with us as well because that is where Elder Miller served his mission as a young missionary and they had hoped to serve there together but the chances of that are fading away.  There is still hope and I really hope they do get to go, but right now, who knows.  I asked the Miller’s to plan our trip because I have been so busy and they were happy to do so.  I bought the plane tickets and sent them an email about the time for the flight but somewhere between that email and our memories we goofed on what time the plane was taking off and Sister Miller didn’t catch that until after 10:00 Wednesday night and I had to then wake up Sister Gifford and have her set her alarm for an hour earlier than what we had planned.  We had to re-book a taxi and re-think our morning.  But no worries, it all worked out and off we went to Ireland on Thursday early morning.

We landed in Dublin and rented a car then drove to Waterford.  In Waterford we parked along the waterfront and walked a few blocks to the Waterford Crystal Factory.  I have been here once before with Landon and Ashley but it was enjoyable just the same again.  I didn’t buy anything but Sister Gifford bought a small vase.  There are some beautiful things at the crystal showroom. 

After that and a quick lunch we headed off to Cork and Blarney Castle.  I had also been to Cork with Landon and Ashley but it was on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day and nothing was open so we saw the city but didn’t get to to anything.  Blarney Castle was wonderful.  I hadn’t heard that great of things about this castle but I really liked it.  The grounds around the castle were very nice and if we hadn’t been on such a time crunch, I would have enjoyed wandering them a bit more than we did.  But we did climb to the top of the castle and kissed the Blarney Stone.  We were dressed in our missionary attire which made that a little harder to do.  In order to kiss the Blarney Stone – to gain the gift of gab, you have to lie down on your back and reach over your head with both your hands and grab on to two pipes.  Then you have to pull yourself back a bit over a ledge and lean your head back as far as you can to kiss the stone.  It was a bit crazy but I can say I did it.  I’m happy for that.

Tis there’s the stone that whoever kissesHe never misses to grow eloquent;

‘Tis he may clamber to a lady’s chamber,

Or become a member of Parliament.

“A noble spouter he’ll sure turn out, or

An out and outer to be let alone;

Don’t try to hinder him, or to bewilder him,

For he is a pilgrim from the Blarney stone.”

     -Francis Sylvester Mahony

The Blarney Stone is up at the top where you see the opening. That’s what you lay back over.

The next day we drove around Cork a bit and Elder Miller showed us where he lived 50 years ago while serving a mission.  The place was all boarded up so he wasn’t able to do anything but get a picture out in front of the building but I think that was nice for him to see his old stomping grounds.

As we headed off to drive the Ring of Kerry we came across several small villages that were so neat looking.  With Elder Miller driving we don’t stop as much as if it was just Sister Gifford and I but we got him to stop in one town called Killorglin.  I learned about a tradition they have here.  As you drive into town there is a statue of a goat with a crown on his head.  I didn’t get to take a picture but here is one from the internet.   So this village has one of Ireland’s oldest fairs called Puck Fair.  Every year a goat catcher goes up into the mountains to catch a wild goat. The goat is brought back into town and the “Queen of Puck”, traditionally a 12-year-old school girl crowns the goat “King Puck”.  He is then paraded through town and then elevated up onto a high stand in the town square for three days. Where he rules over the festivities.  Then he is brought back down and led back to the mountains to his home.  While he is in the village he is well taken care of, fed well and looked after by a vet.   We also walked over to a pretty church and went inside.  The grounds were nice with a nice statue.

The weather was beautiful at times and at other times it got a bit leaky but we had a great time and saw some beautiful sights.   The best part of the ring for me was Ross Castle.  This was a place I wanted to take Landon and Ashley when they were here but for a few reasons, like it was


Christmas Day and we couldn’t find a gas station open (or anything else) we didn’t go to Ross Castle.  It wouldn’t have been open anyway and now that I’ve been there I know we probably wouldn’t have even been able to get close enough to see it.  Ashley can trace her family history to this castle and it sits on a beautiful lake.  We didn’t stay long but it was very nice.   After getting through the Ring of Kerry we drove to Limerick where we stayed the night at a great B&B.  It was nice company visiting with the owners of the place and they directed us to a much needed really good restaurant for dinner.  We had a horrible lunch earlier and were all very hungry.  I had lasagna and it was by far the best Italian food I’ve had here.  I ate every bit of it.

Saturday morning it was off to the Cliffs of Moher.  This was a different experience than on Christmas Day.  The place was full of people but it was still fun and the sight is beautiful.  We got to go into the visitor’s center and do a little shopping in the gift shop as well.  

As we drove thru the countryside I rolled my window down and took a couple shots.  I love the Irish scenery.  Here is one shot I took from the car window and also a shot of Dunguaire Castle near Galway.  (Not everyone wants to stop at every castle we drive by.)  But this picture turned out pretty good.  

After the cliffs we drove into Galway which is a place I’ve wanted to go.  We always have senior missionaries in Galway.  Currently the Walker’s from Mesa, Arizona are here and we were planning on meeting up with them for dinner.  We got to Galway and parked then walked a ways to Eyre Square to wait for the Walkers.  Their P-Day is usually on Monday and they had some missionary work going on for a little bit.  Here was a cute statue in the square but no one could tell us who he is.  We decided he was just a cute little leprechaun. 

One more picture I had to take of this phone store…

And a few at dinner…

Well, we were very tired by the time we got to Dublin at about 9:00 and it took almost an hour for us to find our AirB&B for the night.  We were so tired but we found it and had a noisy few hours of sleep since the place we stayed was right across from a canal with swans and it seemed the people just stayed out there all night having parties.  We were up at 3:30 AM to leave for the airport at 4:00 AM so we could get to our flight and home in time for church.  But that wasn’t in the plans for us.

We got to Enterprise to take our car back and it didn’t open until 5:00 AM.  That would have been okay but they didn’t open until about 5:10 and there were three cars ahead of us.  There seemed to be only one guy there to work and we waited for him to slowly check the cars in front of us.  We told him we were in a big hurry and he didn’t keep us long on our car but then we got over to where the shuttle was supposed to take us to the airport and there was no shuttle.  Everyone was just standing there waiting which is what we ended up doing.  We didn’t get on a shuttle until just about 5:30 and after we got through security, which was packed, and a couple of us got stopped for luggage checks and body checks we had missed the plane.  We walked all the way down to the gate anyway in hopes that it had been delayed but by the time we were almost there (which was as far away as you can get for a gate) we knew we had missed it.  So we ended up walking all the way back and through customs (not fun) and back down to the front of the airport to find the RyanAir Ticket Counter.  We waited in line and got to the agent who told us there were no flights for the rest of the day that had any room.

We decided to figure out our options and considered the other airline, AerLingus but when we looked at prices they were high.  We looked at taking a bus from Dublin to Edinburgh which would include a ferry but the soonest we would get home would be 10:30 PM and not all the legs of the bus were even available so we would have had problems along the way.  We thought about renting a car but the fee to drop it off was high and they wouldn’t let us take it to Edinburgh, only Belfast which still left us with problems.  So we decided again to find better prices on airline tickets.  We finally found some on-line tickets for a little less than the first time we searched and decided it was what we were going to do.  Problem was the plane didn’t leave until 4:30 PM and it was only 9:00 AM at the moment but it was better than nothing.  We bought the tickets on-line and once again started walking to the other Terminal.  

Well, all is well again.  We went to AerLingus ticket counter after buying the 4:30 tickets and asked if there was anyway we could move to an earlier flight and they got us on a flight that got us home at noon.  Now Sister Gifford and I are at the office trying to play catch-up on all the work that didn’t get done while we were away.

I hope you all have a wonderful week.  I’ll see you in 22 days.



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