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December 20, 2014

SMALL TALK: Anniston residents visit the land of leprechauns

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Posted: Saturday, August 16, 2014 10:58 pm | Updated: 8:49 am, Fri Oct 10, 2014.

When Ron and Terrye Dachelet were approached by Charlie and Anne Brockwell about taking a trip to Ireland, Terrye jumped at the chance.  

“My maiden name is O’Brien,” she said.  “So, of course, I wanted to go.”

Ron also wanted to visit the Emerald Isle, but for different reasons.  A golfing enthusiast, he was anxious to shoot a few rounds where the greens are always greener.

“Anne and I have wanted to visit Ireland for years,” said Charlie.  “We had heard about its beauty and unique landscapes — and it was spectacular.”

While Ron caught the first bus for the golf courses, Terrye, Anne and Charlie went sightseeing, starting with the Gap of Dunloe, a narrow mountain pass created by glacial movements centuries ago.  

To get there, the trio had to transverse the Lower, Middle and Upper Lakes of Killarney by open-air motorboat, then board a “jaunting car,” a horse-drawn buggy that carried them along the winding roads of the Gap.  

“Our driver took us on narrow trails, up and down steep terrain that was impassable by car,” Anne said. “It gave us incredible views we wouldn’t have seen any other way.”

Terrye agreed adding, “It was my favorite part of the trip,”

The following day, Ron once again headed for the golf courses, while the others traveled a popular tourist route known as the Ring of Kerry.  

A 125-mile circuitous route along the Iveragh Peninsula, the Ring features a variety of landscapes from sandy beaches to rocky cliffs, lakes, bogs and forests.

“We stopped along the way for a sheepdog exhibition,” Charlie said.  “It was very interesting to watch border collies showing off their impressive sheep-rounding skills.”

Another stop was at Killorglin, home of the Puck Fair, a three-day event in which a wild mountain goat is caught and then crowned King Puck, with humans as his subjects.

Each evening the four friends regrouped at the Malton, their hotel in the heart of Kerry County, and set out on foot in search of dinner.  As they walked the streets of Killarney’s bustling town center, they could hear singing from the pubs.

“We stopped at one called Murphy’s,” said Terrye. “It was very quaint and charming, and the food was delicious.”

And the townspeople were friendly.

“They seemed genuinely happy to have us visit,” said Charlie.

The time spent playing golf also gave Ron a chance to interact with locals — specifically his caddies (two of whom were O’Briens!).

“My favorite courses were the Waterville and the Tralee (which was designed and built by Arnold Palmer),” he said. “It was my first time to play on true links courses.”

But thanks to Mother Nature, Ron also enjoyed a day of sightseeing.

“We had been warned that it rained frequently in Ireland,” Anne said.  “But most days it was only a brief shower.”

Or as Charlie called it, an “Irish mist.”

One particular day, however, it poured. Since golf was out of the question, Ron joined the others to tour interesting landmarks such as the Muckross House, a grand mansion where Queen Victoria once stayed.  

“It took the owners three years to prepare for her visit,” Charlie said.

The group also wandered the ruins of a nearby abbey, founded in 1448 as a Franciscan friary. An adjoining cemetery offered Terrye an opportunity to search for long-gone O’Briens.

“That day the rain never let up and we were soaked to the skin,” Anne said. “But it was one of the best days we had on the entire trip.”

Souvenirs brought home by the Alabama travelers included photo albums, Christmas ornaments, Celtic jewelry and an O’Brien coat of arms. Oh, and new raincoats.

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