Welcome to British Isles Friday! British Isles Friday is a weekly event for sharing all things British — reviews, photos, opinions, trip reports, guides, links, resources, personal stories, interviews, and research posts. Join us each Friday to link your British-themed content and to see what others have to share. The link list is at the bottom of this post. Pour a cup of tea or lift a pint and join our link party!
Last week’s British Isles Friday began with Sim’s 3 reasons why we should all be watching Arthur & George on PBS on Sunday nights (no spoilers, please — I recorded it but haven’t watched yet). Heather reported on her trip to the Royal Mews, complete with photos of gorgeous carriages and one very handsome horse. Becky reviewed a children’s book about the Beatles with the wonderful title of Fab Four Friends.
First, let’s start with some geography. Ignoring country names, for a moment, the two largest islands in the British Isles are Great Britain and Ireland. The island of Ireland is shared by two political entities — the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland (which is part of the United Kingdom). I called this meme “British Isles Friday” so that it would be welcoming to material from all corners of the British Isles: the United Kingdom (in its constituent parts of Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and England) and the Republic of Ireland. Today, my post features the Republic of Ireland.
Michelle Mangan, who works on digital marketing for the
Killarney Hotels Group in Ireland, has developed a cool Story Map about Ireland and the writers who lived there. I learned a lot by clicking through the arrows and zipping around the map of Ireland to see the photos and writer bios.
We went to Ireland in 2012. It was for a garden tour, so I got only limited experience of the literary landscape. Ireland is justifiably proud of its writers, though, and that comes through, no matter the theme of your journey.
We stayed in Killarney a couple of nights, mostly as a jumping off place for a drive around Dingle Peninsula. One of my favorite photos of the trip was just before we stopped for lunch at the Blasket Island Visitor’s Center, a place that tells the story of the tiny village that produced a startling number of writers. The westernmost stop of Michelle’s Story Map is the Blasket Islands.
I’d love to make it back to Killarney. We enjoyed walking around the town and discovered a couple of nice restaurants and many cute shops. And, I grew up with “Christmas in Killarney” so it put me in an oddly Christmasy mood, even though it was June. The Killarney Hotels site has me dreaming about a return trip.
James Joyce’s place on the Story Map is in Dublin, naturally. Joyce intimidates me, so I still haven’t read Ulysses. I did manage to read an annotated version of Dubliners and really enjoyed it — especially when I visited the city and could imagine the characters as I walked around Dublin.
Oscar Wilde’s boarding school is shown on the Story Map as the next-to-last stop. Another favorite moment of my trip was visiting the Oscar Wilde statue in the corner of Merrion Square in Dublin.
Have you been to Ireland or dream of going? What would you read in preparation for a trip?