A windy, rainy week in Ireland - Curt Yeomans

All we ever see in postcards of Ireland are the lush green hills, and the quaint, happy people, with cherry-red cheeks, who are either drinking Guinness, or tending to a herd of sheep.

There is a hidden side to the Emerald Isle, though. It is the side we do not expect, and yet, it's the side that explains the greenery, and the red cheeks. What is it? -- you may ask. It is the chilly air, and all the rain!

This little cold snap we've been experiencing here lately reminds me of one of the more interesting parts of my trip to Ireland this past summer. From the Cliffs of Moher, to Blarney, to Dublin, its was wind, wind, wind, and rain, rain -- rain all the time. It rained at least a little bit every day. Not usually heavy rains, but just a light shower (only once do I recall a rainbow appearing afterward, in case you are wondering).

In fact, one gift shop in Bunratty was selling a T-shirt that showed a cartoon sheep in the four seasons in Ireland. Spring showed the sheep in a green field with an umbrella as the wind blew, and the rain fell. Summer showed him in a Hawaiian shirt, lying in a folding beach chair, under a large beach umbrella, working on his tan, as rain fell.

Fall showed him holding the umbrella again, this time as the leaves were turning colors, the wind was blowing and the rain was falling. Winter showed him under the umbrella yet again -- in a blizzard.

Who would have thought you could be anywhere in July, and need a jacket, or at least a sweatshirt, at all times. Then again, when you are as far north as Ireland is (it's roughly at the same latitude as New Foundland in Canada), you should expect it to be a dramatic departure from Hotlanta's summer burn.

Now in some places, you should expect it to be windy. That was the case at the Cliffs of Moher, which rise 702 feet above the Atlantic Ocean on the west coast of Ireland.

Once you climb to the top of the cliffs, where O'Brien's Tower is located, it is very windy. Now, notice I said very windy, because it is not quite at that extremely windy stage, but it is much more than your average summer breeze.

It is the same deal in the Burren, which is the nearby, inland, mountainous area (with a lot of limestone) where you find stone-age forts and the Poulnabrone dolmen. Both places have great views, but both also have strong winds.

My hair was a hot mess after visiting both places. Elsewhere, I needed to layer my clothing as well, such as at Blarney Castle. Then again, at Blarney Castle, you are climbing to the top of a tall castle, so you can get your picture taken while being bent over backwards to kiss an old rock (the Blarney Stone). You do not exactly get the right to complain about the wind up there.

Then I got to Cashel, site of the Rock of Cashel, and it was fairly calm there. Despite being on a hill above the town, there was nothing more than a gentle breeze. So I'm thinking, "OK, it's just western Ireland that is freezing"

Then came Dublin. The first day I went out in Dublin, it was without a coat on. It was fine as I walked from the hotel to Grafton Street, but I regretted it by the time I was preparing to leave Trinity College, after seeing the "Book of Kells." After a guided tour of the college's courtyard, a quick, heavy rain set in. Once the not-quite-quasi-Biblical rainfall was over with, it was extremely chilly outside.

As a result, I had to buy a Trinity College sweatshirt to keep warm on the long, five-block walk to Dublin Castle. I didn't go sightseeing in Ireland without wearing a coat for the rest of the time I was over there. Now, with that perspective, I do not mind the little cold snap we have been moving through, here in metro Atlanta.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.