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• • • • • I R E L A N D • • • • •

The Sweeping Melancholy of Eastern Ireland

Diarmaid Rankin shows us castles and churches, tombs and monasteries and long-forgotten forts. As an aside, the 40-year-old chronicles his own ruins. "That was my father's iron yard," he points to a rusted and derelict wall midriver. "Here was my aunt's cottage. Her helper was a bit simple, but Mae just instinctively knew when someone wanted something. No need for words."

Vines tug at the mortar chunks. The scene is forlorn: surely a home abandoned centuries - not years - ago? But the women lived right here in the Mourne Mountains, not three decades past. [READ]

Journey From One End of Ireland to the Other

It used to be that visitors to Ireland would stay in the south or northwest of the island and leave Northern Ireland for more hearty adventurers. Seldom in decades past did travelers choose to traverse both regions in one visit, apprehensive of how things might appear to soldiers manning the checkpoints.

Those concerns are a thing of the past (there are no more checkpoints) since the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 and I discovered recently how easy it is now to journey from one to the other. I joined three other women to cycle and hike along Northern Ireland's Antrim coast and County Donegal in the Republic of Ireland and found the biggest challenge was not the political environment but the weather, natch. [READ]