Emily and I decided that the only appropriate way to spend St. Patrick's day would be a trip to Ireland itself. And despite what most of you are thinking right now...no, Emily didn't just party the entire time.We grabbed two of our good friends here in Oxford, Megan and Dani, and it just so happened that Dani's mom was in town so the five of us traveled over 1000 miles around Northern Ireland.We loved our four day trip which included the largest sea cliffs in Europe, St. Patrick's Cathedral, A potato chip making castle (yes, castle) and many other adventures. Below are a few pictures and stories from our trip.The first part of our trip was a flight into Dublin. We arrived on Tuesday, rented our car, and headed for city center. Dublin was also full of signs celebrating their independence. The Easter Uprising, which would eventually lead to their independent state, was in 1916, 100 years this Easter. It was amazing to see how they had pictures of the major leaders, and Irish flags, and lots of cultural things around the city. Plus the Ireland National Library had the nicest bathroom I have ever been in...I know random.Following our time in Dublin we spent the night with an Irish family in Trim. Trim is where parts of Braveheart were filmed, despite the fact it is Ireland. Beautiful area with an old castle right in the middle of town.Our Irish family told us about a gravesite near by called Newgrange. Newgrange is part of a series of mound burial places along Ireland. These places are over 5000 years old. They are older than the pyramids and have just as much mystery and intrigue about them.What made our time at Newgrange was Frank. Frank was our tour guide. From the picture below you might think he is a serial killer who hates life. I would have thought so too, but after spending an hour with him, he is easily one of my favorite people. He had the driest sense of humor and took his job very, very seriously. He was awesome.After Newgrange we slowly found our way through the Irish countryside until we found our next destination. The home of Pat Tayto. Pat Tayto is sixty years old in February. He is the traditional symbol of Irish Potato Chips. Yes, their factory is still in a castle today. A castle, I might add, that was inhabited by U.S. Troops during WWII.Pat was a wonderful tour guide and we had a lot of fun. We were so sick of chips or crisps as they call them here. Plus the castle was pretty neat.We then left the Tayto factor and headed for Belfast. Belfast is at the heart of Northern Ireland which is still under the rule of the United Kingdom and Her Majesty the Queen. From 1960-2010 the area has seen lots of violence from conflict. Many will remember this conflict with car bombings, fights, protest, and other eventful times. We spent our time in the Belfast Museum reading about the events. The U2 song "Bloody Sunday" kept going through my mind. It was written about this time.We left Belfast as the sun was setting, quickly stopped by the headquarters of the Belfast government and then headed on to Portstewart. A small beachtown on the coast of Northern Ireland. We stayed the night on the beach and then woke up on St. Patricks day and headed straight for Giant's Causeway.The Legend of Giants causeway is fascinating. Two Giants, a Scotsman and an Irishman named Finn, wanted to fight each other. Finn, the Irishman, build a causeway to get from Ireland to Scotland to fight him. However, Finn realized that he would lose to the Scots Giant so he ran home and hid as a baby in his own house. When the Scots Giant came over to fight him he saw the baby (remember it was actually the Irish Giant, Finn) and said, "Wow, if his baby is that big, I don't want to fight someone that big" and he left. Thus is the legend of Giants Causeway. Quite a way to begin St. Patrick's day.We then left the Causeway and headed to a big suspension bridge that salmon fishers used to access their nets. The Carrick a Rede rope bridge still spans over the ocean onto an island.We then traveled on to Londonderry. Londonderry, or Derry, is a small town that still has conflict from time to time. We stopped and watched a St. Patrick's day parade entitled, "Celebrating the Land of the Little People." St. Patrick himself even shows up!We then made our way towards the western sea. Along the way we were driving through some small towns and even ended up in a parade at one point. The officer was not very happy to see us but we just drove through the crowds ahead of the first float.We eventually made our way to our last stop, Slieve League. Perhaps my favorite place in Ireland. These are the largest sea cliffs in Europe. Additionally, the area is surrounded by sheep and green hills (although green is hard to find in the winter) and these old signal towers built to warn of Napoleon's potential invasion of Ireland.After Slieve League, we drove across Ireland slowly heading back to Dublin for our flight home. We made a few stops along the way including to Yeats grave and Kells, where the Book of Kells was written and stored for many years. We also stopped at St. Patrick's well.Ireland treated us well. We enjoyed it alot. So, to end, we will leave it in the hands of Ireland's greatest poet, Yeats, to speak of the dream he has of Ireland.MY DREAM FOR IRELANDBy: W.B. YeatsKnow, that I would accounted beTrue brother of a companyThat sang, to sweeten Ireland's wrong,Ballad and story, rann and song;Nor be I any less of them,Because the red-rose-bordered hemOf her, whose history beganBefore God made the angelic clan,Trails all about the written page.When Time began to rant and rageThe measure of her flying feetMade Ireland's heart hegin to beat;And Time bade all his candles flareTo light a measure here and there;And may the thoughts of Ireland broodUpon a measured guietude.Nor may I less be counted oneWith Davis, Mangan, Ferguson,Because, to him who ponders well,My rhymes more than their rhyming tellOf things discovered in the deep,Where only body's laid asleep.For the elemental creatures goAbout my table to and fro,That hurry from unmeasured mindTo rant and rage in flood and wind,Yet he who treads in measured waysMay surely barter gaze for gaze.Man ever journeys on with themAfter the red-rose-bordered hem.Ah, faerics, dancing under the moon,A Druid land, a Druid tune.!While still I may, I write for youThe love I lived, the dream I knew.From our birthday, until we die,Is but the winking of an eye;And we, our singing and our love,What measurer Time has lit above,And all benighted things that goAbout my table to and fro,Are passing on to where may be,In truth's consuming ecstasy,No place for love and dream at all;For God goes by with white footfall.I cast my heart into my rhymes,That you, in the dim coming times,May know how my heart went with themAfter the red-rose-bordered hem.