Things to remember when visiting a Church or Cathedral

You don’t have to have strong spiritual beliefs to enjoy a visit to a house of worship or a spiritual site. Virtually all religious sites allow travellers to enjoy the sanctuary space as long as they are respectful.

Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral (founded c.1028) is the spiritual heart of the city, and one of the top visitor attractions in Dublin.

I think that churches, cathedrals and other houses of worship offer a special insight into the beliefs and culture of a country. If you want to experience world famous art, reflect on the lives of princes, poets, and politicians or simply have a moment of personal reflection, you will enjoy visiting a house of worship. They are also of interest for those who love to connect with local culture, revel in architectural wonders or are just interested in local history.

For many travellers, visiting a house of worship is a deeply personal occasion. Some people are seeking spiritual guidance and comfort and others are looking to renew and enhance their faith. Travellers of all different beliefs cross the globe to visit those locations that are meaningful to their faiths.

For me, any opportunity to travel is an opportunity to connect to people of different cultures, faiths, and ways of life. Visiting a house of worship helps facilitate that connection and I always welcome the chance to learn more about different religious backgrounds.

I also love how houses of worship are gatekeepers of history, art, literature, and architecture. When I learn the history of a house of worship, I’m really getting to know a city, it’s people, and it’s community.

In some cases, houses of worship welcome as many tourists as they do worshippers. While you might be surrounded by hoards of tour groups, always remember:

  1. You are in a sacred site. Be Respectful. You don’t have to agree with or condone the place of worship you are visiting, but you should be respectful for the way others worship.
  2. Be Sincere. Visit a church because you sincerely want to learn about the building or know what they believe and practice, not because you want to mock and ridicule their faith.
  3. Dress modestly. If you are unsure as to what is appropriate attire follow the rule that covering more of your body is always more appropriate than covering less.
  4. Respect signs indicating photography rules.
  5. Don’t take photos during a service.
  6. Keep your voice down. Try not to interrupt those visiting for religious purposes.

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.” – Khalil Gibran

Why I Walk to Explore places like Rathmullan in Ireland

Rathmullan, situated in County Donegal, Ireland is the perfect location to ‘get away from it all’. While driving along the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland we spent the night in Rathmullan and the next morning walked along the Milford Sli na Slainte (path to health). With it’s wonderful beach and wooded hillsides we could relax and enjoy the quieter pace of life that is characteristic of smaller Irish villages.

Rathmullan, situated in County Donegal, Ireland
The beautiful Beach of Rathmullan, situated in County Donegal, Ireland

The Milford Sli na Slainte is a path that started at the pier and took us all along the beautiful beach to a rocky outcrop at the mouth of a small river. After crossing the bridge over Maggie’s Burn we turned left onto the Fanad by-pass road. This road took us through the countryside, along pastures and woodland until we once again got back to the town centre.

Here are ten reasons why you should sling on your best walking shoes and explore the countryside:

  1. Walking is free exercise. Walking is as close to free as it gets. You don’t need fancy shoes, or clothes, or equipment. If you head straight out your front door, a walk will only cost you some time and a little rubber off the bottom of your shoes. Many people are surprised to learn that walking is actually a serious form of exercise. Although you may not feel like you are working too hard, in just one mile you can burn off over 100 calories.

  2. Walking connects me with my surroundings. One can’t possibly notice the many small details of buildings and woodlands while driving. When you’re on foot, you notice all kinds of things you’d never notice in a car. I always thing of a walk as an opportunity to explore the area and to admire the scenery. I usually try to do some research beforehand and find out a bit about the area and always take my camera with.
  1. Walking changes your perspective. You start to see where the environment is built for people, and where it’s built for cars. Cosy shops lining the street become more inviting. It’s while I’m walking that I notice the frost on the grass, or a rabbit hiding behind a tree, or the moon peeking out from behind the clouds.
  1. Walking inspires curiosity. Who built that building? What was it like then? Who uses it now? What is over that hill? Are those berries edible? Wouldn’t it be cool to have a coffee shop on that corner? You might not know where you’re headed, and that’s ok. Getting lost in nature is the bes thing ever!
  1. Reduce your carbon footprint. Many of us would like to make a personal contribution to climate change, and here is a simple way that you can… ditch those car keys in favour of walking shoes and avoid carbon emissions completely. Every trip (however short) you take on foot is one you aren’t taking in your car. That’s good for you, and it’s good for the environment.
  1. Free your brain. Anxiety, stress, and mental health issues are common issues that people face in today’s society. Walking is a perfect way to zone-out, de-stress and rid yourself of all the negative thoughts in your mind from the day. A brief walk can melt mental fatigueimprove memory, and even help stave off the progress of Alzheimer’s disease. Taking a walk is a great way to leave all the worry of the day behind.
  1. It’s a Great Way to Enjoy the Weather. Summers are short and oh so sweet. I just can’t wait to get outside, and while I haven’t figured out how to be able to spend all day on a blanket at the park, walking somewhere gives me a great excuse to savor a few sweet moments of sunshine. I have nothing against the other seasons. I love rainy spring walks, and crisp fall walks. I even love bundling up for an icy winter walk, especially late at night. Every season (and day, for that matter) has its moments. Walking gives you a chance to soak them up.
  1. Its Great for Your Creativity. English wordsmith William Wordsworth is said to have spent much of his life on foot, walking. Henry David Thoreau often walked up to 20 miles at a time before he put pen to paper. Virginia Woolf was a regular walker. In fact, there’s a very long list of writers who considered walking part of their craft. If you’re a creative type, the walking path might just lead to enlightenment.

 

  1. It’s an Excuse to Get Some Ice Coffee. Walking is a great excuse to pick up a cup of ice coffee to enjoy along the way. At least you’re burning some of those calories, right?

 

  1. It’s the Perfect Time do do Some Reflecting. We often think of meditation as something that happens when you’re sitting still, but in reality, that’s very hard to do. The washing machine will chime. The phone will ring. Your neighbours will make noise. If you walk, your brain will be able to do its quiet wandering with less distraction.

 

What are your reasons for walking?

Postcards from Dublin, Ireland

These are some of the photos I took in Dublin while on my Road Trip through Ireland.

Postcards from Dublin, Ireland
Dublin is filled with some amazing buildings. This is the Building housing Modern Art.
Postcards from Dublin, Ireland
In the heart of Dublin

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon

What I learned from my Ireland Road Trip

Road Trips are a commitment, there’s no way around that. And once you’ve started, there’s absolutely no getting out of it. Well, I guess you could always hop out halfway and call for a cab, but that’s for quitters and it’s also slightly dangerous. Stay in the car.

Going on a road trip Through Ireland, along the Wild Atlantic Way with my friend Amy sounded like the best thing ever! It was only once our trip had started that I realised we would have very limited space for most of our trip. My travel companion was literally twelve inches away from me for most of the day. I also quickly learned that the driver needs to be fully focused so there was no talking while she was trying to navigate the treacherous back roads along the Irish coast.

I think the big thing about Road Trips are that everyone, at some point along the journey, finds themselves wondering why on earth they decided that this was the best way to travel? And yet, despite this moment, you will get back in the car, and continue the adventure. And then – maybe not immediately, maybe not in a week, but eventually you will realise that there were also lessons learnt along this journey.

#1 There is no such thing as too many snacks.

We were both travelling on a very tight budget so before heading out, we thought that skimping on the number of snacks we purchased was one of the best ways to save a little money. This was a very big mistake. We realised this half way through our journey and this time round, properly stocked up on snacks. Snacks were an important component to keeping the both of us sane on this trip.

#2 There is no such thing as too many stops.

Sure, it was important to reach our destination eventually, but it was the stops along the way that I remember most clearly about our time on the road.

Being able to stop whenever we wanted was one of the greatest benefits of a road trip so we tried to take advantage of it! Whenever you saw some beautiful landscape or a great look out point we took the time to pull over to the side of the road to enjoy it!

#3 Just be present.

Like a lot of people I am guilty of taking a lot of photos, more than needed. And in doing so I often miss out of the moment. Just by taking in the scenery and not looking through my camera lens constantly I felt more present.

I realised that I had to stop rushing through the sights and take a moment to appreciate the beauty of the scenery. I tried to slow down and take in my surroundings with all five of my senses. While on this road trip I was forced to relax and do one thing at a time. When we weren’t driving somewhere we focused on what we were doing right at that moment, whether it was hiking or having a cup of coffee or walking along the beach.

Even though we were busy almost constantly, I felt more present, and time seemed to last longer.

#4 Silence is okay.

I don’t always deal very well with silence. While travelling I am usually either talking or listening to music. But I quickly learned that my travel partner needed to be fully focused so there was no talking while she was trying to navigate the treacherous back roads along the Irish coast. At first I found it quite frustrating to drive in silence, but it did give me the chance to think and to take in my surroundings. There were a number of wonderful, peaceful silences that I experienced with my fellow traveller while driving through scenery that looked like it could be from a documentary.

#5 Patience isn’t just a virtue, it’s a necessity

If ever patience were required, it is on a road trip. Things go wrong. You get lost. Sometimes things go wrong and there is nothing you can do except breathe, take a step back, and find another way. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do except wait and be patient.

There is traffic. You’re have to deal with other drivers. There are 20km/ph towns and 80km/ph highways. Your GPS is wrong or does not know where you are. We knew we were in Ireland the moment our GPS couldn’t pronounce the names and settled for spelling it. Your sandwiches will get soaked, cheese will spoil and milk will go bad. You and your road trip partner will probably get on each others nerves at some point.

It happen. We had to deal with it. I had to embrace the chaos.

#6 It’s the Company You Keep

At the end of the day, what matters most is who you are with. This holds true in any circumstance, but especially on a road trip. Choose someone you can get lost in conversation with for hours. Someone you can be yourself around. I’ve learned that you truly know someone only after you’ve ridden with them in a cramped vehicle for days on end and witnessed their driving, and what they really look like when they wake up in the morning.

#7 Go With the Flow and be Spontaneous

I love lists and checking things off and knowing what’s supposed to happen before it does. In our day-to-day life, it’s natural to try hard to maintain strict control over things. We plan and budget, set up meetings, and schedule activities. Our lives are often ruled by our calendars.

On our road trip however, all of that went out the car window. It was quite a challenge for me to go on a road trip where I didn’t have every minute planned. Not knowing where we were going to stop next or even spend the night was quite stressful for me. It took me some time to feel comfortable with having no plan and to just go with the flow. By not having a set itinerary we had time to stop at amazing scenic spots we would have missed otherwise. We got to lingering at deserted beaches and ended being so busy enjoying the moment that I even forgot to look at my watch.

I learnt that the main key to enjoying every aspect of a road trip is to relax and go with the flow.

#8 Choose experiences over things

We lived out of a car (actually, a crossover van – thank you, Amy!) for 3 weeks while driving along the Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland. I tried to pack light but after 3 weeks there were still things I brought that I hadn’t used, and clothes I packed that I didn’t wear. Truth be told, I didn’t miss them one single bit. There wasn’t one time that I thought “I wish I’d brought…”

I also didn’t miss any of my stuff from home while we were gone. I was too busy living to worry about stuff. I have decided to travel lighted, to acquire less and to do more in the future!!

#9 It’s the Journey, Not the Destination

A real Road Trip is all about the journey and not the destination. Even though at times the experience seemed endless I was never quite truly ready for it to end. The sore butts and the cramped feeling of being so close to someone else 24/7 are just some of the memories I’ll be taking with me forever. It’s the stops along the way, both expected and unexpected, that really make a road trip. The quaint small towns, weird roadside attractions, and even getting lost that add to the excitement.

When the trip was finally over, there was a sense of loss. So relish the journey—every part of it.

#10 Following your dreams isn’t easy – nor should it be.

Following mine has taught me so much more than these lessons. Many of them aren’t clear, yet, but they will be. And when they are, I’ll share them.

These are just some of the lessons I learned from our epic road trip. What have you learned from your own experiences?

Photo diary of Londonderry

Photo diary of Londonderry
Photo diary of Londonderry

The Wild Atlantic Way of Ireland took us through Derry, officially Londonderry, the second-largest city in Northern Ireland. This is the only remaining completely walled city in Ireland and one of the finest examples of Walled Cities in Europe. We walked the approximately 1.5km city walls around the inner city. This wall provided a unique promenade to view the layout of this beautiful city.

I see my path, but I don’t know where it leads. Not knowing where I’m going is what inspires me to travel it.” – Rosalia de Castro

Memorial to Oscar Wilde’s life

I have only recently finished reading the Gothic novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, by the Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde. I loved the book so visiting his memorial sculpture in Merrion Square in Dublin, Ireland was quite exciting. Oscar Wilde was born in 1854 at no. 1 Merrion Square – just across the road from where we were standing.

The monument is a three-part sculpture which references Oscar Wilde’s life. A colourful Oscar Wilde sits on a large 40 ton quartz boulder. They say this colourful sculpture of Oscar Wilde represents the colourful man he was in life. Across from him on one side is his pregnant wife, Constance, and on the other, the torso of a young Dionysus, God of youth, wine, poetry and theatre. Dionysus was an inspiration to Oscar, he even had a small statue of Dionysus on his writing desk. They even went a step further, showing Oscar’s love of all things Greek, by making Dionysus and Constance out of bronze.

The stone pillars are covered in quotations from Wilde’s writing, setting out his thoughts, opinions and witticisms on art and life. Some of the etchings are copied from the personal handwriting of famous Irish people including the poet Seamus Heaney and President Michael D. Higgins.

I have definitely been inspired to read some more of his books. Which Oscar Wilde book would you recommend?

Photo diary of Trinity College Dublin

Dublin’s Trinity College is recognised internationally as Ireland’s premier university and as one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities.

You have to stay in school. You have to. You have to go to college. You have to get your degree. Because that’s the one thing people can’t take away from you is your education. And it is worth the investment. – Michelle Obama –

A Woman needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle

A Woman needs a Man like a Fish needs a Bicycle

Graffiti-

The famous Temple bar district of Dublin

The famous Temple bar district of Dublin
the Merchants Arch has been in existence since 1821.

No visit to Dublin would be complete without a walk through the famous temple bar district. Temple Bar is a busy riverside neighbourhood located beside the Liffey, spread over cobbled pedestrian lanes.

Approaching the district we crossed the Liffey on the Ha’penny Bridge to reach the Merchant’s Arch through which walk right into this riverside neighbourhood. The Ha’Penny Bridge is Dublin’s oldest pedestrian crossing over the river Liffey

As we walked through the cobbled lanes of the neighbourhood it was hard not to notice that you can literally step out of one pub and straight into the next one without as much as hitting the pavement in between. Lively markets and boutiques fill the cobbled lanes and alleys of the Temple Bar quarter with life during the day. At night, the area turns into a heaving throng of pleasure seekers crowding the pubs that host live folk music, or strengthening themselves at one of Temple Bar’s many eateries.

To skip the crowds we bought some take away and sat next to the Liffey enjoying the atmosphere of this district.

The famous Temple bar district of Dublin
The Oliver St. John Gogarty hostel is situated in the heart of Dublin’s cultural quarter, Temple Bar.

Temple Bar district is definitely a cultural melting pot with an Irish flavour at its heart.

Doors and Windows of Ireland

The architecture of each country is quite unique and special. These are some photos I took while driving through Ireland.

Architecture is a visual art, and the buildings speak for themselves. Julia Morgan

 

Dublin Icon Walk

A small lane way that I randomly spotted on a walk through the city of Dublin ended up being one of my favourite parts of Dublin. This unexpected colourful lane is known as the Dublin Icon Walk. Located in the alleyways of the Temple Bar area, these informative panels and the beautiful art work illustrate iconic characters throughout Irish history. There is a street dedicated to Women Writers, another to Irish Movie Actors and even one or two Oddballs, Crackpots and Assorted Geniuses.

It’s a hugely informative wander through the people that have left a significant impact in Irish arts and culture. The Icon Walk Dublin is a multi-street public art installation which showcases original artwork by many different local artists of Irish icons from many disciplines including: writers and playwrights, sports icons, musicians, and actors from the performing arts.

While everyone talks about the bars in Temple Bar as a must when visiting Dublin, if you’re in the area and you have only time for one thing, do the Icon Walk instead.

5 Reasons why you should visit St Patrick’s Cathedral

Dublin was our starting point for our Irish Wild Atlantic Way road trip and as an introduction to Ireland it did not disappoint. The very first Irish Cathedral I got to explore on our Ireland road trip was Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin.

Even though this Cathedral is tucked away in an urban area that does not really show Dublin’s best side it should definitely be on your list of things to see in Dublin. It is located fairly near to the Liffey and Temple Bar, so not too far off the beaten path for visitors. And although it is standing amidst tenements and sometimes run-down Victorian houses, St. Patrick’s is still imposing.

There are a couple of reasons why I think you should visit this forbidding Cathedral.

1. Saint Patrick’s is the National Cathedral of Ireland. It has played a very important role in the religion of Ireland.

2. It is Ireland’s largest Cathedral.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been part of Ireland’s history for over 800 years. Built in honour of Ireland’s patron saint between 1191 and 1270 Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is one of the few buildings left from medieval Dublin. Don’t expect ancient or even medieval things…though the locality has Christian tradition reaching back to around 450, the present Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is a product of a renovation, bordering on a rebuild, in the 19th century. So we don’t know how much of the current building is genuinely medieval and how much is Victorian.

3. Celtic chieftains were baptised here by St Patrick himself.

It was here that St Patrick himself reputedly baptised the local Celtic chieftains, making this bit of ground some fairly sacred turf.

4. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, was Dean of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in the 1700s and he is one of many burials on site.

As we entered the cathedral we almost immediately came across the graves of Swift and his long-time companion Esther Johnson, aka Stella. On the wall nearby are Swift’s own (self-praising) Latin epitaphs to the two of them, and a bust of Swift.

5. The Cathedral is world famous for its choir which still performs daily during school term. We were very fortunate in that we visited on a Sunday, so we stayed for the evening choir song. It was such an amazing experience to sit in this beautiful building while listening to such beautiful music.

The Cathedral is a place where history is alive and tradition breathes, where lives are remembered and transformed, and where all are welcome to experience and explore the loving presence of God.

Churches of Ireland

May the road rise up to meet you.

A popular Irish blessing (in Irish Gaelic: Go n-éirí an bóthar leat). One of the main characteristics of Celtic Christianity is the use of images of nature to show how God interacts with people. “May the road rise up to meet you/ May the wind be always at your back/ May the sun shine warm upon you face …” uses everyday images to mean, may God remove obstacles in your journey through life.

Pubs of Ireland

Sláinte!

In an Irish pub, patrons toast each other sláinte (pronounced “slaan-sha”) as they clink glasses of Guinness. Derived from the Old Irish adjective slán (which means “safe“), sláinte literally translates as “health” and is used as a stand-in for the more time-consuming “I drink to your health!”

Just some of the beautiful pubs we passed while driving the Wild Atlantic Route of Ireland.