Dublin: A Painful Case

One day, my primary school teacher handed out blank maps of Northern Ireland and asked us to create our own weather forecast. Everyone got out the felt tips and went to town decorating our six counties with sunshine, rainfall, dark clouds and flashes of lightning. When the finished pieces were handed in, she roared with laughter and observed that we had all coloured around the boundary of Norn Iron with blue water on every side, as if the other twenty-six counties of the emerald isle had never existed. This story sums up the relationship that more obdurate Prods will have with what my grandfather still calls “The Free State”: there isn’t one.

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Trossachs: The Loch District

Everything is a lush, verdant green of the type that only comes with plentiful, regular rainfall. There are lakes of all shapes and sizes: great and small, round or serpentine, sometimes covered by the ethereal shroud of a very fine mist. Surrounding these are pine forests, valleys and mountain ranges; not quite Alpine, their gentle slopes stop just above horizon level. The only sound you will hear is the bleating of lambs and calves, or the gentle lowing of big brown cows. After a rain shower you will often see a wide, hazy rainbow. Although I didn’t notice many daffodils, it is all impossibly Wordsworthian. Thine too is the last green field that Lucy’s eyes surveyed. Nor England did I know ’til then, what love I bore to thee.

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