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Islanders invade Ireland

COURTESY PHOTO | Mary-Faith Westervelt (left) and Cathy Driscoll hoist a Guinness.

COURTESY PHOTO | Mary-Faith Westervelt (left) and Cathy Driscoll hoist a Guinness.

Load ’em up, move ’em out. No, it’s not “Rawhide” but a bus tour around the Emerald Isle. Accompanied by days of sunshine and 46 strangers, our group of 14 Islanders started on a 10-day tour to verify all the different shades of green and to see that the quality of a pint of Guinness remained the same throughout the pubs in Ireland. It did!

Getting onboard the bus, we were joined by several Aussies. Boy, do they get around. They had been on the road for weeks. They get six weeks’ vacation and they put it to good use wherever they land. And land they do, after 21 hours of flying. Their travels sounded like around-the-world in 60 seconds.

Other passengers included folks from Tennessee and a 90-year-old grandma, her daughter, granddaughter and great-granddaughter from the Midwest.

Look out when Granny got off the bus and her cane hit the pavement — you’d better get out of the way.

She celebrated her 90th birthday at the Guinness factory in Dublin. Everyone in the Gravity Bar sang “Happy Birthday” and then she disappeared to get a tattoo. We don’t know where she went or where she got the tattoo.

Our driver, Margaret, and our tour director, Ally, gave us a whirlwind tour. Starting in Dublin and driving to Belfast, there were incredible vistas of pastures, green grass and seascapes.

The interactive Titanic Museum, located where the ship was built, was a real thrill. The Giant’s Causeway was worth the walk down the hill and up again. Our tour then headed south and traveled along the coastline to Galway, Ring of Kerry, Dingle Peninsula, Waterford and back to Dublin.

The landscape was dotted with sheep and cows. The sheep were color-coded so the farmers could see which ones were theirs. It was amazing to see blue spots and red stripes on the sheep; it made for a colorful scene. The cows were regular-looking cows except for the ones that looked like Oreo cookies, the banded Galway cows.

Getting your luggage outside your door by 7 a.m. and boarding the bus at 8 a.m. are some of the challenges of a bus tour. Making sure everyone gets to sit up front to see the view without someone always hogging the front seat is a feat.

On the first day you have a starting point, seat-wise. The next day, you count back three seats; by the end of the tour, everyone should get a chance to sit in the front. Do you have any idea how many people have a problem counting to three? It led to a couple of funny you’re-in-my-seat exchanges.

I know people do self-drive tours, but can they see over the hedgerows and enjoy the view? And they have to drive on the wrong side of narrow windy roads. They also miss the camaraderie of a bus tour — when it works — and this one did.

Next time our group of 14 will be 15. Granny wanted to join our group because we had so much fun.

COURTESY PHOTO | All together now: Islanders visited Avoca Woolen Mill in Avoca, Ireland on October 15. The town is 36 miles south of Dublin on the east coast. From the left, Cathy Driscoll, Phyllis Wallace, Mary Wallace McLaughlin, Mary-Faith and Brian Westervelt, Hoot and Joanne Sherman, Don and Eileen McCarthy, Jean Dickerson, Jane Dickerson Fowler, Frank Fowler and Elaine and Patrick Clifford.

COURTESY PHOTO | All together now: Islanders visited Avoca Woolen Mill in Avoca, Ireland on October 15. The town is 36 miles south of Dublin on the east coast. From the left, Cathy Driscoll, Phyllis Wallace, Mary Wallace McLaughlin, Mary-Faith and Brian Westervelt, Hoot and Joanne Sherman, Don and Eileen McCarthy, Jean Dickerson, Jane Dickerson Fowler, Frank Fowler and Elaine and Patrick Clifford.

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