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The “Emerald Island”, true to its name is really emerald. The most dominant feature of the land is the rich and luscious green. Despite the weather being greyer and rainier than England even during the summer months, its reputation is not as bad as its neighbour across the Irish Sea.

Perhaps because the stunning natural landscape, the bubbly and friendly people, angelic music and dance overshadow the climate.

Whilst Dublin is not that different than any other European city, it is the places outside the capital, which make Ireland what Ireland is.

A short drive away from Dublin, Glendalough is a mysterious small town with lots of Celtic heritage. But again, the beauty of the hills, woods and streams may distract you from the historical artefacts.

If you happen to find the Celtic maze in the small flatland across the little town shop, make sure you take a solitary walk on it whilst meditating and reflecting on the meaning or your purpose of life.

This maze was built by a group of volunteer students from an American university and my husband was one of them. We had the chance to visit the maze a couple of years after my husband built it and I thoroughly enjoyed my meditative walk on it. My conclusion…It was actually quite simple. When I reached the end of the small maze after about 20 minutes, I had my answer. And it was “generosity.”

Whilst in Glendalough, we were very kindly invited for dinner in the lovely small cottage of a very spiritual and long-bearded professor, Kevin whom my husband had met during his previous visit. Kevin’s fiancée at the time (now wife), Una had prepared a lovely stew dish for us. I have to say, she looked a lot like Sinead O’Connor. I remember the heavy rain hitting the windows of the small cottage whilst we were having dinner. I was absolutely delighted by the charm and authenticity of the whole atmosphere.

Aran Islands, which are at the most western corner of the island, are worth a visit for the real Irish experience. On our way to Inis Mor (one of the Aran Islands), we passed by Irish villages with red and blue door – white cottages and another city, Galway before we took our ferry.

You can rent a bike to go around Inis Mor. On this island with a history of whaling, you can come across sea lions on the beaches, amazingly magnificent sheep, eat in the only restaurant of the island, and drink warm whisky or Guinness in the only Irish pub whilst listening to the islanders sing local tunes. The highest peak of the island is also worth the trek. Beware the gustily winds though as they are strong enough to fly a bull to the ocean. Visitors need to crawl on the ground to move to the edge of the peak to witness the high waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Quite an exhilarating experience!

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