Greater Dublin and Wicklow Mountains

It has been a while since I told you a little more about what’s going on here. The reason is actually fun, because I have found good acquaintances and have barely time to enjoy the nice little cottage we rented. Yes, you read that right. With the small cottage we rent, everything has turned to the good – almost everything in any case, but if one would have everything, one would still not be completely satisfied.

Before I tell you about beautiful Ireland just a few lines about how good the owner of the house is. She has really invited. Samuel, my 22-year-old son, who works here at IBM, got her to lower the rent by 100 €/month and not only that, then we got everything we asked for and a little more. Now we have curtain rails and more and better furniture. The curtains are mine, I brought them here from Sweden the last time I was at home. It’s nice to have some familiar and personal things. My son also has his own curtains in his room. I think the owner of the house was very happy that she did not have these expenses as well. So a few weeks ago she came up with a pretty small flat screen TV, but the living room is not that big either. Digital TV also applies here and therefore we do not have a picture yet. We have not been in such a hurry to choose a supplier. But now to the outside of the house …

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Curtains from Home. By the way, I still use them.

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… and out of town and experience the beautiful Irish nature with me. Ireland is different, I wrote at the beginning and this also applies to nature here. Here you really have to learn to look behind the mountains, behind what obscures the view. Almost a month ago, on a gray and rainy Sunday morning, well-dressed for the weather, I set off for the meeting place where an acquaintance would give me a ride to get a good distance out of town, specifically to Glendalough, where we would meet some other acquaintances from a group, I now regularly meet, to enjoy the Irish nature. The first time we were on an island, called Ireland’s Eye and the second time, we visited a bog on nature conservation day. The island already gave me a taste of the Irish mountains – a raw but beautiful nature. The visit to the bog and the center where you could learn how the Irish used it and cut peat was very interesting. The Irish bogs are not really like the Swedish ones, they are not tufts in water, but very wet whole surfaces. They also do not seem to be as dangerous as the German bogs where you have to stay on specific trails for not sinking down in them and never get up again (I learned better than). We had a guide, who told us about the different plants, what benefit they do, why one should care about them etc. It was also fun to meet the other people in the group and see, how they were dressed. I was dressed for a hike with rough shoes and I was lucky, because it was so wet there and we always sank down a little, but many had probably not thought about it, when they had read about the event and went out there, for many had very thin sandals and others were dressed for Sunday. On the way home we followed the “Grand Canal” a bit by foot. The canal, which flows through Dublin, actually goes all the way to Waterford and I had no idea about that before.

However, these two Sundays were just the prelude to what I experienced a month ago. As already written, I was dressed for the weather. I also had almost all that with me, that I had read about online when it comes to (hillwalking) hikes here. Only the map was missing, but I had a compass, a flashlight (for the forehead) and a whistle. I also had rainwear, rain protection in case one has to sit or lie down somewhere, and a varm hat and varm gloves. I had the first aid bag, a total change of clothes and a lunch pack. The backpack was almost a bit small and, most of all, it was very heavy in my opinion. My acquaintances, among them a forester, had mostly only rainwear and a packed lunch with them. In any case, the Irish mountains do not seem to be as dangerous as it is written. By the way, during next winter we heard the contrary. There were two hikers in the mountains and during their hike it started snowing. One of them were missing and finally found dead. This time we were a small group: Larry, our leader, a former biology teacher, who usually takes care of us and tells and explains about plants and wildlife; Steven, a lawyer who works for the government to review new legal texts so they comply with the constitution and regular hiker, even he wears light suit trousers and a shirt; the ranger Terry, who works in this area; Martina from Slovakia, who I got to know in the open group I met on Wednesday nights at the library in Blanchardstown and became my friend as well as little me. It was also Martina, who introduced me to the group after we had bumped into each other in the shop for hiking clothes and stuff. She is a wonderful little person, by the way. A charming girl about the same age as my oldest son. This day I also learned, that the old men had studied at university together and have been good friends ever since.

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Our Group – Always With Different Participants

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We first visited an old church with a typical tower for these areas and afterwards began to set off in nature. When we had crossed the street and left the tourists behind us, it started to go uphill. You may know that there are not many paths in nature here. The few that exist are usually well-trodden by tourists. The shortest way goes straight, and straight up it went on the hills. For the first hundred meters up there were trees to support the uneven terrain. There was a small major road at the tree line that we quickly left again to step through tall grass with large holes in the ground. There is no rich wildlife here, mostly rabbits and skunk, in addition to Chinese deer that were imported about 300 years ago and since have multiplied considerably. We saw an eagle and some insects. The sheep grazed higher up, where the grass was not so deep and there were no holes in the ground, but on the other hand prickly small mountain plants that made me wish I had protective gloves. To find the way through these and other plants without paths requires not only power but also balance and that has always been a little difficult for me. We walked and stepped up as straight as possible, no serpentines here. It was not always easy to follow the hikers, who were used to hike in this area. However, they took a lot of consideration and even shortened the trip for my sake. The weather here on the mountain was really nice, but a little windy and a bit colder as you would experience, if you would hike in the lower mountains in Sweden. On the top of the first hill, I was amazed about all the many other hills around. From the city and even when you get closer, it looks like there was only one mountain range that rises abruptly from the ground. Up on the hills you always stand between lots of them, because there are mountain peaks everywhere. The view almost lets one forget to breathe. The mountain lakes are few, but also very beautiful and can only be seen when you are very close. The mountain peaks make it impossible to look very far, they take the view from one at the same time as this mountain ‘s landscape is very beautiful but also very strange. The Irish nature has in its places bare stones, but where there is forest, there are not as many holes around rocks as in northern Sweden.

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Hills

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The ranger was, of course, a great asset on this hike. He told us women a lot about Irish nature and the places, we were, in particular. Though we also learned, that the sheep in Ireland are for the better or the worse. We were in a nature reserve, but the farmers who lived close to here, had grazed their sheep here since time immemorial. I had never heard of, or thought, that sheep could destroy nature. However, the areas, they graze on, need decades to recover in this sensitive and wet nature. It is quite forest-poor in Ireland, which is due to the fact that in the past a lot of trees were felled as clear-cutting. Trees, that had needed hundreds of years to grow, because here they grow very slowly. In many places the soil is too wet for new trees to germinate. Where there are plantations, evergreen trees are planted and this is not good for nature either, the ranger told us, because they make the ground sour.

Up among the peaks we also took our break and ate our packed lunches. We had not reached the highest peak yet, but were close. We could see cultivated land further down, but it was rare. We also were told about the lake monsters, that are supposed to be there and that almost every lake here has its own. The way up took on the forces, but the way down was not much less difficult either. Still at the height we crossed a bog with wide ditches. To shorten the way home, we had to skip quite a lot of kilometers and cross one of the ditches. It was quite wide. I am not that tall and also a little chubby, as you know, so there was a danger that I would end up in the swamp. Though the retired teacher held out his hand, when he had jumped over and the ranger pushed me in the butt, that my jump would be long enough. Only afterwards I did understand how dangerous the situation had been. I thought, it was irresponsible to choose that path, just because the gentlemen took a very long break.

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A Waterhole in the Bog – I could not take a photo from the ditch I had to jump over

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The last part home, however, we followed the pilgrim path which was paved with stones – like stairs for the most part, however, with irregular distances and far too long to call them comfortable. It led past a closed mine where some ore had previously been extracted. I think it was copper. Where the path became a little wider and more comfortable, we were invited to a couple, who ran a small hostel. They were very nice and invited us hikers for tea and biscuits and told us a bit about the business, politics and the world. This break was the most welcoming of the entire day. We felt a little tired, especially me and just the thought that it was approximately half an hour left of walk for coming to the car was discouraging. This unexpected hospitality made both body and soul happier and with light feet we then hiked the way back to the car park. Anyway, there was a kind of a little accident, which the ranger accounted for. At the closed mine, he was looking for something. He tried to reach it, while he also tried not to fall into the water, because the mine was flooded. He did not really do it. His waterproof shoes, were not waterproof enough, they lacked on the upper side, the opening ;-). Despite that, he told us, why the mine was not in use anymore. The last minors have had an accident in there. They were brothers and when the dynamite blow up to early, one of them was hurt. The other one carried him out of the mine, where he saw, that he only was carrying half of the body of his brother, who had lost his legs.

Before we went our separate ways, we went into a tavern for a glass of water or another drink. The gentlemen invited Martina and me, a gesture, which should not be forgotten and makes these Irish even more sympathetic, than I already had experienced them. (I have met more selfless Irish in the meantime.) This proves once again that there is no difference between peoples and peoples, only the people are different. The nature is beautiful in many countries and in many places, although it can be very different.