Thursday, March 17, 2011

Things I Love: ☘ All Things Irish ☘

Those closest to me know that I have an obsession with Ireland and it's culture as a whole. I'm a total Irish-wannabe! I have about a pinkie finger's worth of Irish in my background but I embrace it fully! :) I've had the opportunity to visit Ireland not once but twice and both experiences left me more in love with all things Irish.

During our visits we enjoyed a quaint Irish Bed and Breakfast called Avarest B&B (how cute is that name!) which to this day was the best breakfast I've EVER had. We also stayed one night in Dromoland Castle...yes...a CASTLE! Every girl and woman's dream right?! And both visits we had the same carriage driver that took us on a beautiful scenic ride through the countryside of Ireland. He had a true Irish name....Michael Joseph O'Sullivan and his eyes creased at the corners and sparkled as he gave a toothless smile and told witty Irish jokes. These are just a few of the highlights from our trip.

What do I love so much about Ireland? First of all I love the Irish people. I love their accents, their wit and their laid back attitude. There are so many things about their culture that I love - their food, their dance, their landscape, their convictions, their music...they have so many traditions and aspects of their culture that I admire and enjoy.

One of the more specific things I love about Ireland is, of course, clovers. I have so much clothing, jewelry, etc. with shamrocks due to my Irish obsession. This Irish symbol was first coined by Saint Patrick for the Holy Trinity. Most of us know the legend that 4 leaf clovers are considered to be lucky but I think few know that the 3-leaf clover was used to represent how The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit can be separate but also part of the same entity. 

 In addition to my collection of clovers, I also have jewelry with the traditional Celtic Knot design often found in Ireland and one of my favourite pieces of jewelry is the Claddagh ring I got during my first trip in Ireland.

The Celtic Knot is said to symbolize eternity because the lines, due to the way it is designed, typically seem to have no beginning and no end. It is probably the most identifiable type of Celtic Art.

The Claddagh's distinctive design features two hands clasping a heart, and usually surmounted by a crown. The elements of this symbol are often said to correspond to the qualities of love (the heart), friendship (the hands), and loyalty (the crown).

Claddagh rings may be used as friendship, relationship, eternity, engagement, or wedding rings depending on the intention of wearer and, in the case of a gift, of the giver. There are three traditionally accepted ways of wearing the ring which may signal someone's relationship status:

1. When worn on the right ring finger with the heart pointing to the fingertip, the wearer is free of any attachment.
2. On the same finger with the ring turned around, it suggests someone is romantically involved.
3. When the ring is on the left hand wedding ring finger it means the person is married or engaged.

This is a photo of my Claddagh ring. I LOVE that the heart is an emerald and the crown is made of tiny diamonds. 

Here are a few other traditional Irish things that I love and enjoy.....

1. Self portrait wearing the blue wool sweater and shamrock necklace I got during my first trip to Ireland. You can find these kinds of sweaters in almost every shop in Ireland.
2. Waterford Crystal vase I received from my parents. Little fact: Waterford crystal prides themselves on perfection. If there is even the slightest defect during the glass blowing process they will scrap it and start over. So every piece of crystal artwork from Waterford Crystal is absolute perfection. :) I recommend touring the Waterford Crystal factory if you are ever in Ireland...such a cool experience.
3. Traditional Irish dancers - we saw both professional performances and street dancers during our Irish visits. All of which were phenomenal and so fun to watch as they bounced around on their toes.
4. Harp is an Irish beer and I prefer it over Guinness
5. This will sound strange to some but I had the best tomato basil soup I've ever had in my life while in Ireland. My Mom and I always order tomato soup on the menu of any restaurant in hopes to find something that tastes like it. The closest we have found is the tomato soup from Mia Za's but it still isn't quite the same.
6. This is just one of the beautiful views you can find in Ireland. It's a photo of the Cliffs of Mohr taken during our first trip to Ireland.

Here are a few videos of Irish dance and music that I love.

This video is of the cutest Irish dancer I've ever seen! :)

Here are two of my favourite Irish artists - Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan

This was probably my longest blog post ever, but as you can see there are so many wonderful things about the Irish and I could go on for days sharing stories about this wonderful country and its culture!

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