Planning a trip to the mothership - Curt Yeomans

"In a neat little town they call Belfast, apprenticed in trade I was bound; and many an hour of sweet happiness, I spent in that neat little town," - from the 19th Century Irish folk tune, "The Black Velvet Band."

Sometimes, you have get out of the country for a few days just to escape the insanity.

I mean between public officials going for each other's jugulars, and the general loopiness exhibited by some people in the world, it's enough to make anyone run for the borders.

I'm hoping to do that this summer.

My goal is to leave the United States, and visit Ireland for several days, probably in July. Ideally, I'd like to hit Dublin, the west coast around Ennis and Shannon, and then Belfast.

Okay, Belfast is actually in Northern Ireland, which is a separate political entity all together, but at least it's on the same island, and it has Ireland in its name.

There is just one problem. I don't have a passport. I've never been out of the country before, so I've never had a reason to get a passport. That won't be too much of an issue, though, because I'm getting ready to apply for that.

My family was previously planning a trip to Ireland for a family reunion with the Irish cousins in late July, but that fell through for one reason or another. No one has ever been able to explain what happened, other than some vague rumblings about scheduling conflicts.

Well, if there's not going to be a reunion, then I guess I'll just have to go on my own.

So the question is: "What will I do in Ireland?"

I've been doing some research via tourism books on Ireland. I've made a few decisions about where I'd like to go, and how I'd like to get around, but not many, because I just started thinking about this.

I'd like to do it all by train, mainly because that would be a cool way to travel around the country. But I'm also afraid to drive on Irish roads, because motorists there drive on the left side of the road, from what I can tell. The last thing we all need is me driving down the road, when I'm trained to drive on what would be the wrong side of the road over there.

I'd be the crazy American running all the Irish off their roads.

While I'm over there, my goal is to see sights like the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar, Dublin Castle, and the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin, the Cliffs of Moher in County Clare, The Blarney Stone in Cork, the 2 million-year-old caves at Ballyvaughan, and Belfast Castle, the Belfast Wheel and the Titanic's Dock and Pumphouse in Belfast.

I'm also eager to see what Irish newspapers look like. I mean, come on, I'm a journalist, so, of course, I want to see how other journalists do their thing. I'll just have to familiarize myself with the local lingo before I go over there.

I'm actually quite excited about this possible trip. If I make it, it will be, as I said earlier, my first trip outside the United States, and I can't think of a better place to go than Ireland.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached at (770) 478-5753, ext. 247, or via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.