Friday, September 2, 2011

Cead mile Failte from Ireland

Cead mile Failte means “A thousand welcomes” in Gaelic. In Ireland everyone speaks English but many signs and some people speak Gaelic, the traditional language. The capital of Ireland is Dublin, which was settled by the Vikings settled in the 800s. Most of Ireland is rolling, green hills with lots and lots of sheep and cows. The harp, three-leaf clover, leprechauns, and St. Patrick’s Day are things associated with Ireland.

Do you like leprechauns and castles? We do. When we were in Ireland we didn’t see any leprechauns but we did see castles. However, in Dublin there is a Leprechaun Museum where they tell the tales of Leprechauns. One famous castle in the south of Ireland is Blarney Castle. It is said those who kiss the Blarney Stone get the “gift of gab.” They don’t make it easy. First we had to climb a long flight of stairs, then while on our back, we had to bend way over backwards, hanging on tight to some rails, to kiss the Blarney Stone. Why that stone has special power we wondered but didn’t get an answer. Actually our favorite castle was Roscommon Castle, mainly because we were the only ones there and could wander around as we wished. It was built in 1269 but changed hands over the years and each owner added to it until it was finally burned down in 1690. So the history of Roscommon Castle was over about the same time American history was just getting started.

We stayed at the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon where each morning at breakfast we could look out the window and see the ruins of an Abbey. Again it was another place we were free to wander about. We think it would be cool to live in a place with ruins of castles and abbeys. However, I don’t think the people think having castles in their town is so unusual. I guess we don’t think having forts in our area is unique, but it is. The children were more interested in playing games with their friends. They taught us a new game called hurling. It was fun and lot like hockey but on the grass. There was a lot of running.

Do you have any ancestors who came from Ireland? We were surprised to learn that 44 million American’s claim Irish ancestry. In total, over 80 million people worldwide can claim Irish ancestry. A lot of Irish people came to America to help build the Eire Canal. Many more came to America between 1845 and 1850, when a disease ruined the potato crop, about one-quarter of the entire population of Ireland either died or emigrated. For most of the people in Ireland the potato was the only source of food. The average 15-year-old ate 15 potatoes a day usually mixed with a little milk. The problem was they only had potatoes to eat so when the disease made the potatoes uneatable there was no other food source. Many places in Ireland have very sad statues of starving families so people will remember the sad times. We went to the Famine Museum in Stroketown, near Roscommon. At the end there was a display of many places in the world where people are starving. Today there are more than 12 million people in Africa who are starving. It is hard to believe when we have so much food here in America and we are concerned about American eating too much plus we waste a lot of food. Slán go fóill (Bye for now)