Wanting More Moher

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Of all the images you might see on posters of Ireland, in books about traveling in Ireland, and on Irish websites, probably pictures of the Cliffs of Moher are the most ubiquitous.  Although I have been to Ireland a number of times in the past years and have traveled around this magnificent Emerald Isle, for some reason I have never made it to the Cliffs. It’s not like I felt cheated when I got back home – the sightseeing I did do was pretty incredible, but for some reason, my itinerary never got me to County Clare.

When putting together the itinerary for our trip this past May, I told myself that this time there were no excuses to be made; it would definitely be on our agenda. So there we were, leaving Ennis, the capital of County Clare, to spend a day on the Cliffs. The weather was discouraging on the hour or so drive. While we started off in bright sunshine, as we got closer to the coast, the clouds/fog started rolling in. Moher-Blog3By the time we got to the visitor center parking lot, we could barely see the front of our car. Great, I finally get to the Cliffs of Moher and all I would get to see is a sign and thick fog.

As I handed the attendant my six euros to park, I asked her what the forecast was, and whether the fog would lift. She very confidently exclaimed: “No worries. It will clear shortly.” We walked the quarter mile or so to the visitor center, an impressive building built into an embankment of grass. The exhibits and videos there were fascinating, but I kept wondering if the video would be the best we were going to see of the Cliffs.

After exhausting all there was to see inside, we decided to venture out in hopes of catching any sign of what we had just seen in the exhibits. We walked outside and lo and behold, just as the parking lot attendant had said, the fog lifted, the sun came out, and there was not a cloud in the sky.  Amazing.  The first glimpse is just awe-inspiring. The sheer drop of the Cliffs, and the fact that they extend as far as the eye can see, definitely makes for a “WOW” moment.

PuffinWe decided to take a few-mile hike to the south to Hags Head.  Our first stop was close by where guides had set up telescopes so that we could see the large population of puffin birds that inhabit parts of the Cliff. These small, comical birds with a black and white evening suit and a colorful bill could have kept us entertained for hours, but the lineup of people also wanting to catch a glimpse through the scope, which is the only way to see them, gives you the kick in the pants you need to move on.

Just before leaving the boundaries of the official national site, we passed a memorial to those who have fallen to their deaths off the Cliffs. It is a startling reminder that there is no fence to prevent someone from falling 600 feet straight down into the ocean.Moher-Blog1I must say, this did not stop a number of people we saw from taking photos of themselves or friends perched precariously close to the edge. I hope they got a great shot because as far as I am concerned, they probably could have taken a very similar photo a few feet farther from the edge and closer to safety.

What a beautiful hike we had to Hags Head, where we had a picnic lunch with an amazing view. The return to the visitor center is just as awesome as the views going the other direction are so different even though were hiking the same trail. A special moment for us occurred as we happened upon a marriage proposal overlooking the Cliffs. Moher-Blog2The stunned bride to-be beamed as her friend photographed the whole scene. Luckily, she was not too close to the edge. And by the way, she said “Yes!

And we also say “Yes”. A visit to the Cliffs of Moher is a must for all. It will have you yearning for Moher.

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County Clare is a special place to visit. If you are from County Clare, check out our silver pendant in the shape of County Clare (or any of the other 31 Counties). Alternatively, we have a silver pendant in the shape of the country of Ireland, and you can have your birthstone custom placed over the County of your family heritage.  These special gifts let you wear Ireland close to your heart.

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Celtic Chakra—The Irish Rainbow with an Ancient Meaning

There are a lot of beautiful, colorful objects in this world to appreciate, from rainbows to artwork to jewelry.  I’ve always enjoyed looking at colorful items, although since I’m colorblind, I’m never sure if I’m seeing a colorful object the same way that someone else does.  Recently, I seem to keep coming across the word “chakra”—an ancient Sanskrit term—and maybe you do too. If you are not familiar with this word and the spiritual meaning behind it, I thought I would give you a little insight so the next time you encounter it, you will have some background.

Chakra Blog1The word “chakra” (pronounced “cha” – “kra”) refers to centers of energy within the human body that are believed to help regulate all its processes. According to tradition, there are seven chakras positioned throughout the body, from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is depicted through a certain chakra color and is said to govern specific functions in the body that help make us human.

The chakra colors follow the order of the colors of the rainbow, from red to purple plus white. These colors reflect the different frequencies of light and energy associated with each energy center.

The colors of the seven primary chakras, their locations within the body, and the emotions they are thought to control are:

  • Root Chakra – Base of the Spine – Security
  • Sacral Chakra – Lower Abdomen – Family
  • Solar Plexus Chakra – Upper Abdomen – Self confidence
  • Heart Chakra – Center of Chest – Love
  • Throat Chakra – Throat – Truth
  • Third Eye Chakra – Between the Eyes – Insight
  • Crown Chakra (white) – Top of the Head – Awareness

Although the power of the chakra is steeped in Eastern tradition, Annie Wealleans of Black Dragon Crafts has magnificently merged this ancient belief with her Celtic heritage to create a stunning line of Celtic Chakra jewelry. Ever Irish Gifts carries a full range of Annie’s Celtic Chakra jewelry, as well as many of her other fine handcrafted beady creations.

Now that you are an expert on the meaning of “chakra,” we invite you to consider Celtic Chakra jewelry for yourself or as a gift for someone special—woman or man—and display the rainbow of your Irish pride.

Stay Ever Irish,
Doug

Bread IS the Staff of Life (so here’s a recipe)

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While we were traveling throughout Ireland, we decided to make a stop to visit one of our artists, entrepreneur David Monson, owner and craftsman of Monson Irish Jewelry. We’ve been enchanted by his delightful pendants handcrafted from genuine Irish and American woods and were curious to see his workshop and spend some time getting to know David better. After all, he was a recent winner of “Dragon’s Den,” Ireland’s version of the television competition program “Shark Tank,” so we knew the visit would certainly be interesting.

What we did not expect was how delicious it would be as well.

David lives and works in Ballyhaige, County Kerry, in a family home near rich bog marshes. A man after our own hearts, his first suggestion once we finally found the place was not to tour the workshop but to go have a bite to eat, since lunchtime had come and gone.

With David at the wheel of our rental car, we soon found ourselves at a pub in a nearby village where David apparently is a regular, since he knew everyone and everyone knew him. Lunch was hearty and filling fare, but the best part, to this lover of all things carbohydrate, was the freshly baked Irish soda bread, sliced thick and slathered with butter. Mmm.

Surprisingly, a few slices were left when the meal was done, so I asked the charming proprietress if I could have the leftovers packed up to take with me. Too good to leave behind, you know. She agreed, of course, but when she returned to hand me my package, it contained not the few remaining slices but an ENTIRE LOAF of bread–heaven! You can be sure that the loaf was one of my favorite souvenirs of the trip, and it accompanied me, tucked away in my carry-on bag, all the way back home, to be savored at breakfast for the next couple of days.

Thank you, David Monson, for your lovely pendants (here, here, here, and here) and a delicious memory of our visit to your studio!

Irish Soda Bread
1 large loaf, serves 8

3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 cup raisins
1-1/2 to 1-3/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Lightly flour a large baking sheet

Sift the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl and add raisins. Make a well in the center and pour in 1-1/2 cups buttermilk. Stir with one hand, fingers apart, moving in circles to incorporate the buttermilk. If necessary, add more buttermilk 1 Tbs. at a time until the dough barely comes together; do not overwork it. The dough should be soft.

Turn the dough onto a well-floured surface and pat into a round approximately 6-3/4 inches in diameter and 1-1/2 inches high in the center. Invert the round so the floured side is on top. With a thin, sharp knife, mark a cross on the dough about 1/4 inch deep and extending fully from one side to the other.

Transfer the dough to the prepared baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the over temperature to 400 degrees and bake until the bread is browned and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom, another 20-30 minutes.

Cool to room temperature on a rack, about 2 hours, before slicing and serving.

Recipe courtesy of Fine Cooking

Stay Ever Irish,
Laura