So excited to share with you ‘the keeper’ by the amazing @Kinagrannis and yours truly!! It’s out on iTunes 10/22/13 you can even pre-order if you extra love us ;) #thekeeper get ready!
photos by Florencia Abelenda
Where to start….where to start..
I might be back home in Los Angeles now but when I close my eyes, I’m still staring off at endless rolling hills of green, my face lightly damp from the thick mist, hearing content cows grazing on the grass in the distance, and there are flashes of great breathtaking cliffs, castles, and ancient ruins everywhere. All of that .. is Ireland. It’s even more beautiful than the pictures you see on those calendars they sell at the mall. There is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes, feeling it with all of your senses.. It is a land with so much history and when you stand on that soil it’s as if you are there through the ages. I could show you every picture in my camera, use every hyperbole there is in the dictionary and still it wouldn’t be enough to describe the magical beauty of The Emerald Isle.
Every since I was a baby, I knew that I was half Irish. But unfortunately, even though my father is 100 percent of Irish decent, he had never visited the country and didn’t have much of a connection to his Irish relatives. Part of the reason was that his father’s( my grandfather) parents died when he was very young. My great grandpa and great grandma boarded a ship in Ireland and emigrated to the United States (New York City) looking for a better life. Life was very harsh in those days and they passed away not too long after making it to New York. My grandpa, who was born in NYC, ended up spending most of his life in foster care and it’s around this time that the connection to our Irish family began to fade away.
So for most of my father’s life, and of course mine, we never knew who and where most of our Irish relatives were. We never let a year go by without a proper St.Patrick’s Day celebration but that’s about as Irish as we got (and that’s not much).
That’s what made this trip so incredibly special to me. It wasn’t just going to visit this beautiful country, it was getting to meet family we had never met before! Through the power of the internet, we reconnected with the Digby’s who are living in Armagh, Ireland. This picture above includes a few of our cousins we met while there. And to boot, they have a restaurant called ‘The Digby bar and grill’ which literally had the best food we ate while in Ireland! I promise that is an unbiased opinion ;)
But even aside from our lovely cousins and relatives, the Irish people (at least each and every one I met) were the kindest, warmest, most humorous, and generous people I have ever met anywhere. I’m not talking about the fake kind of nice either. I’m talking about genuine warmth. Let me give you an example: While in Armagh, I wanted desperately to see an apple orchard since the city was famous for them. The owner of the hotel where I was staying made a phone call to his friend, and a half an hour later, I am getting a grand tour of the famous MacNeice Apple orchards. The owner walked me through all of the different trees, told me stories about how some of them had been planted 3 or 4 generations back. He and his son packed up bags of apples and bottles of cider to take home with us that day… And this was a typical scenario! You get it now? Genuine kindness…. =)
This might seem a little strange but I don’t even really like the feeling of writing a ‘trip wrap up’ entry because it means the trip is officially over. But I know deep down, this won’t be it…I’m sure this will just be the first trip of many to come.
The good news is, during this whole journey, my sisters and I (as well as two videographer friends) captured almost all of it on film. As hard as it was to lug heavy equipment to cliff tops and down cobble stone roads, it will have been worth it to have all my memories wrapped up in a video that will last forever. And plus, you can feel like you were there too ;)
So until those videos are ready.. I hope you enjoy some of these photos from the trip. I don’t even need to look at them because I can see it all and so much more by just closing my eyes <3
Last day of tour…
This trip went by so quickly. I wish I had an extra week per city we visited. I feel I could explore this country forever…it is so abundant with greenery, beauty, warmth, and a sense of home. Tomorrow and the next few days will be extra special because we will be heading up to Armagh to meet our relatives for the first time :) But I thoroughly enjoyed my trip with Contiki and will miss my travel mates!
I came across a lovely musician named Roy on the streets of Cove. He played us some traditional jigs and then kindly taught me a few new chords :) As beautiful as the scenery has been in Ireland, it’s truly the warmth and the loveliness of the Irish people which has touched me the most.
Day 4 in Ireland .. We went to see the Cliffs of Moher today. Parts of the cliff have been falling into the ocean but the view was too good not to walk right along the edge.. We stopped to take this photo. Parts of one of my favorite childhood movies, The Princess Bride, were shot here at the Cliffs of Moher!
Day 3 of Ireland : Aran Islands
They aren’t kidding when the say be careful around the cliffs of Aran Island.. There is not a single warning sign to tell you in another few steps you could be falling hundreds of feet to your death! But that’s part of the thrill of going up there…it’s just you, the cliffs, the roaring ocean below, and the endless green.
I made a new friend today in the streets of Galway. This beautiful border collie was proudly guarding his master, a wood carver, but made a little time to rollover and ask for a belly rub when I came to say hello :) I am already falling in love with this country. Everyone has been so warm and friendly… It makes me very proud to be half Irish :) Tomorrow we are off to the stunning Aran Islands!! #contiki_us #noregrets #gotoirelandus
We visited the breathtaking Giant’s Causeway today..the rock formations were unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. There were seashells, kelp, and crabs all over the sea rocks… Truly one of those sights I will never forget.
Great live music at the pub..