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Ireland in Spring 2002
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From bustling city streets to serene countryside... 

Galway...Quaint shops with colorful facades spaced between restaurants, bakeries and pubs lined narrow, winding lanes.  Window displays, behind large plates of glass with intricate gold lettering spelling out the proprietor’s name, boasted fine china, lace and silver, jewelry and art from England, France, and Germany. 
Looking down the street over the wave of shoppers, she noticed a continuous row of quaint, brightly painted signs swinging to and fro above shop doors and took out her camera to shoot them. 

 

...the sheep appeared unimpressed with us and continued their contented grazing and occasional bleating.  Cautiously Eamon crept up to them again and again, never getting closer than five feet away before they’d huff a cloud of steamy breath and retreat a short distance.  He played with them – or were they playing with him? --  holding his hand out as if to offer a treat and thinking he’d fool them the way he could his dog, Morgan.

 

Maggie found Thomas standing inside the abbey, staring through an opening toward the lake.  He turned to look at her, and she stopped at the far end of the roofless edifice.

 

Outside of Athlone we found, at last, our perfect B & B.  Situated in lovely farm country, St. Ruth's Milltown Farmhouse is a big, warm gracious house with a spacious but cozy parlor and dining room.  Our rooms are big and warm and furnished with beautiful antiques.  As I paged through a Laura Ashley book of home decorating, it occurred to me that the owner of St. Ruth's, Helen O'Brien, must have been inspired by Laura Ashley, because this home, while filled with old, dark furniture and woodwork, is cheerfully, elegantly decorated and brightly lit with delicate fixtures.

From our bedrooms we look out dormer windows over the finely landscaped front lawn and beyond to a hill where sheep are grazing.  It's a peaceful setting, not at all how we expected to spend New Year's Eve.  But the four of us were thrilled to have found St. Ruth's and were reluctant to leave it for a few hours in a pub.  So Sarah and Matthew, with permission of the mistress of the house, took command of the kitchen and prepared a scrumptious spaghetti dinner, and we rang in the new year with a few quiet hours of reading and watching TV by the fire.

New Year's...Before starting off for Dublin, we took a leisurely walk down the lane beyond St. Ruth's in the balmy morning and discovered that we're surrounded by softly rolling hills of pasture and farmland.  Richard and I watched a sheepherder guide his flock to a fresh side of the hill, and we climbed atop another green hilly pasture for a picturesque view of the countryside.

 

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