I am stationed in Carrigaline, which is in the county or region of Cork. 4 or 5 regions divide the country, from what I have learned the relevance of these regions is primarily sport related. There is no provincial government. In all honesty, I have not asked much about the political system here because I have been far more interested in the views and images that flood my senses day to day, and the rich history. Myself, and the family I was fortunate enough to be with, took a drive towards Dingle. Roads that run along the cliffs overlooking the unforgettable and angry Atlantic ocean. As an observer I was lucky to say the least, it is rare for most to experience the same authenticity and acceptance that I did on this family trip. We stopped and had a Heineken along the Wild Atlantic Way. The name the tourism Industry has given to the coastline and trails that have already been there for 1000’s of years to try and encourage those who naively fear the clouds to come and visit. We stop in at a Buddhist monastery in the Ring of Kerry to take in the views and enjoy the silence. The only sounds you hear are of the ferocious winds and the Atlantic, hundreds of feet below. We find accommodations in a town called Kenmare, but not before trekking to a local’s stone home built over 100 years ago, by nuns. This history buff was pleased. We spent our night with wine, whisky, and a deck of cards in a beautiful little cottage. Upon waking we find a flock of sheep just outside our window. Sheep litter this country and watching them run in unison is very amusing. We leave after making an Irish breakfast and drive through the Kenmare national park. My heart has always been with nature. The forests, the valleys, the oceans, and everything between has always been my sanctuary. I cannot describe the unbelievable beauty of this truly emerald island. If God gave us nature to please our senses, Ireland could be his Mona Lisa. The landscape is tremendous and vast. The island is rugged at its edges with peninsulas that seem to hold off the roaring Atlantic constantly battling the cliffs to get in. Even the dullest of imaginations would be inspired. If the hills could only speak of what they have seen. Vikings, Germans, bee hive huts, and rock forts from 500 B.C can be found along the coasts. Castles, stone houses, and walls, create the perfect setting to get lost in thoughts of medieval cities, royal families, and epic battles. The trees here look as though they've seen the beginning of time. With twisted branches and thick laurel bushes the gardens are haunting and beautiful. The clouds rule the sky here, and it is very suitable because if the sun were always out no one would be able to resist this natural jewel. It would be overrun with buildings and "civilization" which would truly be a sin. The mild weather and humid air is the perfect setting for a tall pint in a carpeted pub next to an iron fire place glowing with red coals, and the smell of turf lingering and melting with the sounds of any sport on the multiple televisions. It is not often in life that we can experience the essence of what being local means when traveling. More often than not, we are simply tourists being assaulted by traps and money grabs expensive cocktails and underwhelming food. I on the other hand was treated honorably, like royalty, and as a member of a family. I feel that if this were the last time I visit Ireland, I have seen it all. It is beautiful, warm, and welcoming. The landscape is matched only by its inhabitants and their desire to host and share. I look forward to my return one day. My memories and fondness for everything that was my experience will spill into my praise as I wish and encourage people the opportunity to visit this beautiful island. The emerald jewel of the Atlantic. The place that god created to please his own visual senses.