FOR ME, the real Ireland is on the back roads. That’s the green isle I envision when I close my eyes, winding around its rocky coastline on tiny lanes lined with centuries-old stone fences. And that’s exactly what my fellow MatadorU faculty member Candice Walsh and I did this spring on a quest to uncover her Irish heritage.

For nearly two weeks we made our way across the southern coast, bobbing and weaving through tiny hillside towns all the way to County Sligo. What follows is a photo-album-worth of images from the trip.

[Note: Scott and Candice’s visit was sponsored by Tourism Ireland.]

1

Storefronts

It seemed as if everywhere we went in Ireland, we were met with charming stores and beautifully designed signs.

2

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

The President welcomes foreign journalists to Ireland a few days before St. Patrick's Day.

3

Áras an Uachtaráin

The Irish White House, home of the President.

4

Moody Dublin

Dublin's Temple Bar area on an atmospheric evening.

5

Irish pride

6

Lucky clover

7

Guinness

You can't go to Ireland and not have a Guinness…it's simply not allowed.

8

Matt the Millers

As you can see, the patrons must have kept the staff of Matt the Millers in Kilkenny rather busy that weekend.

9

Kilkenny

10

Copper Coast

Candice strolls along a deserted beach on the Copper Coast, south of Waterford.

11

That it is

12

Copper Coast

13

Countryside collage

14

Copper Coast

15

Reflection

Candice takes a moment to soak in the landscape from which her ancestors departed a few centuries ago.

16

Archives

While searching for Candice's family records, we had the opportunity to look at some seriously old-school documents -- such care and precision went into creating these artifacts.

17

Lismore Castle

We actually got to spend one night in this castle. Fairly spooky, but beautiful nonetheless.

18

Road signs

19

Ardmore

The round tower of Ardmore.

20

Ardmore

The ruins of St. Declan's Church.

21

Ardmore

22

Coastal stroll

Walking a beautiful section of coastline near Ardmore.

23

Notes

A journalist takes notes on Candice's quest to find her family.

24

Radio appearance

Our journey led us to many different places in search of Candice's roots. Here she's getting interviewed on a local radio show in Dungarvan.

25

Lismore Castle

26

Irish trad

An evening in a local Irish pub, with traditional live music being belted out in the corner.

27

Beara Peninsula

28

Ballydonegan

A small town on the Beara Peninsula.

29

Beach scene

The almost tropical-looking beach of lower Ballydonegan.

30

Allihies

31

Irish roads

32

Irish roads

33

A local

34

Eyeries

35

Scenes of the countryside

36

Killarney National Park

Small fishing boats are left until the summer season returns.

37

Dingle Peninsula

38

Dingle Peninsula

The land is green, the water is green…just about the only thing not green in Ireland is the beer.

39

Clogharee Lough

Lookout point on the Dingle Peninsula.

40

Cliffs of Moher

In County Clare, these cliffs shoot nearly 400 feet directly up out of the ocean. Not a place for those who are afraid of heights.

41

O'Brien's Tower

This structure was built in the mid-1800s by Sir Cornelius O'Brien to impress his female visitors.

42

Poulnabrone Dolmen

An ancient "portal tomb" built at some point between 4200 and 2900 BC.

43

Which way?

44

Dunguaire Castle

45

Galway

There's no lack of craic in Galway.

46

Galway

47

Arm twister

48

Galway trad session

49

Kilcullen's Seaweed Baths

Find Kilcullen's in County Sligo.

50

Connemara

51

Road trippers

Candice and I nearing the end of our road trip.

52

Connemara

53

Kylemore Abbey

54

Cliffs of Moher

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