What do you think of when someone mentions the color green? Money? Gumby? Perhaps your Grandmom’s split pea soup? Whatever comes to mind, the shades of green these items take on are as varied as the items themselves.
For me, when someone mentions the color green I immediately think of Ireland. Indeed, the color and the country have become seemingly synonymous. There is an astounding number of different shades of green in Ireland — so many so that Johnny Cash’s song entitled, “Forty Shades of Green” is probably rather accurate.
I’ve had the pleasure of hiking the Emerald Isle twice over the past couple of years and have gotten a glimpse into the country known for its amazing green landscape.
With dark green hedgerows edging each pasture, the countryside of Ireland looks like a giant quilt. Each hillside is unique in shape and complexity.
When trees fall in the dense forests of the Wicklow Mountains, they allow sunlight to spill in and moss to take over the woodland floor. This scattered blanket of bright green adds contrast to the surrounding evergreens.
In the county of Meath you will find several megalithic passage tombs. These tombs, such as Knowth pictured here, are massive mounds covered in beautiful hues of green grass.
Hiking the Slieve Mish Mountains involves traversing over three mountains. Gearhane, Caherconree, and Baurtregaum all provide separate challenges. Even at the summit of Gearhane, a patchwork of green can be observed in the valley below.
Heather is the only plant I saw ambitious enough to attempt a takeover of the green landscape. Although it has never managed a successful conquest, its valiant effort is noted. The patches of purple provided a dramatic flare here on the Howth Peninsula.
The Irish are known for their love of golf and they have the well-manicured greens to prove it. The hiking route around the Howth Peninsula ends with a stretch passing through the pristine Howth Golf Course. A rather absurdly difficult looking course, I was sure to keep an ear out for any rogue golf balls headed in our direction.
No green beer here! This pale green beam in the Guinness brewery welcomes all nationalities to indulge in their delicious beverage. I must admit it tastes much better in Ireland then in the states.
Off the western coast of the mainland lie the Aran Islands of Inis Mór, Inis Meáin, and Inis Oírr. Even on the rocky banks of the island of Inis Meáin an almost florescent green moss grows.
The lush green grass you see these sheep enjoying is thanks to the diligent work of the inhabitants of Inis Meáin. They removed the stones from the ground, utilizing them to create massive walls that cover the entire island. The ground was so rocky before this process that adequate grass was unable to grow to sustain the sheep. These sheep were extremely important to the locals and their wool made them famous for their Aran Sweaters.
Looking like they belong in a science fiction movie, a multitude of different pastel green mosses grow on the trees on Torc Mountain. They grew with such tenacity that these “alien-like” organisms seemed as though they would swallow up the surrounding forest.
Tomies Woods is home to an assortment of green vegetation. Here you will also find O’Sullivan’s Cascade. Legend has it that it once flowed with whiskey, but sadly, when the English invaded, it turned to water.
Even sprinkled with an abnormally occurring snowfall, the brilliant moss-smothered woods of Killarney National Park seem almost enchanted. It is easy to see how stories of leprechauns and fairies come to life in such a place.
One great way to reminisce about your travels is via food – and a great way to put a bit of Ireland into your next tea time is with a warm slice of Irish soda bread.
Irish Soda Bread
- 1 3/4 cups brown rice flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup dried currants (or raisins)
- 1 tablespoon caraway seeds
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 large egg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in Currants and caraway seeds until well coated.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together waiter, oil, and egg. Add to flour mixture and mix until well blended (about 30 seconds).
Use a rubber spatula to shape the dough into a ball, then dump into the middle of your prepared baking sheet. Coat your hands in a little extra rice flour and use them to pat the dough into an approximately 6-inch dome (the center should be higher than the edges).
Use a thin, sharp knife to score a cross shape in the top of the dome, all the way to the edges; cut almost all the way through to the bottom of the pan.
Bake in preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until the bread turns golden and a toothpick inserted in the thickest part comes out clean. Cool well on a wire rack, then slice and serve with creamy butter and a spot of earl grey tea.
Photos are courtesy of Ryan and Laura Wasser. Soda bread recipe + photo by Carrie Keplinger.