Tipping is a tricky thing in Ireland. Usually, you don’t. Often times it’s integrated into the bill or just not done. I’m not sure how it works in the States, but in Canada we tip bartenders. I tried to tip a bartender in Ireland and I could see the look of “START THE CAR!” in the bartender’s eyes. I learned later that it’s just not done.
You can’t go to Ireland without visiting a castle. Them’s the rules. I don’t make them, but I sure do follow them. So we took our tour guides to Donegal Town for the day to see Donegal Castle. It’s but a wee sprite of a thing, as far as castles go, but it’s beauty is undeniable and it’s history is significant.
My brother-in-law and his girlfriend have been together for 8 years, living together for most of that time. She’s a lovely girl we’ve been begging him to marry for years. And years. After weeks of planning, he proposed to her, HE FINALLY PROPOSED TO HER, on the top floor of the castle while we all waited, lingering outside. We knew what was happening, so the excitement and anticipation of their emergence was palpable. After what seemed like a decade of wandering outside within the castle walls, the two came out, looked around at our staring faces and said “what?”
What? I’ll tell you what. FINALLY. ALSO SQUEE. ALSO LEMME SEE THAT RING. That’s what.
There’s a tradition in Ireland that when you get engaged, women take your ring, put it on their own fingers and turn it three times toward their heart. It’s supposed to bring you luck in love.
The significance of the two of them getting engaged at this particular castle is touching and personal. I can’t go into it specifically, given the nature of AH’s family’s anonymousness, but it really was the most perfect place for this to happen for them. Sláinte, you two crazy lovebirds.
The drive between Derry and Donegal is only about an hour, but the roadside scenery is gorgeous. The road cuts through the mountains like a slice in a cake, with cliffs extending high above hillsides covered in heather and abandoned stone walls. It is a breathtaking drive.
Hot-damn, Ireland is a beautiful place. It’s also probably the most wonderful place to get engaged.
You know, besides where I got engaged, which is the most wonderfulEST place to get engaged. But in a castle in Ireland is probably the SECOND most wonderful place to get engaged.
Next up: Giants Causeway and Carrick-a-rede