Monday, April 7, 2014

Our Goodbye to Ireland: Carrickfergus Castle

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Carrickfergus Castle
We only had less than 24 hours left in Ireland, and you can't travel all that way and not see a castle.  Ironically the day we went it was a FREE day!   But we arrived a half an hour before closing.  Which gave us just enough time to quickly tour.  The gift shop had already closed!  Which was probably a good thing so there was no temptation.

Carrickfergus is everything you'd expect a castle to be.  It was majestic and full of glory.  Propped on the hillside and at the water's edge.  It gave you that kind of feeling as if you were entering a magic kingdom, through arched doors.   The interior of the castle was different than I expected it to be.  From the exterior it looks like this cold hard fortress.  The inside felt like you walked into a little village with different buildings within it.  Amazingly it was very handicapped friendly, a large steep ramp allowed us to get Noah to the top both ways.   That was really magnificent that he could experience everything with us on this trip.  Noah was not left out of anything.   The wind was a bit chilly up there, and against the water's edge you could see ships in the distance.   It was rather neat picturing yourself in a spot that contained so much history.  

We toured quickly so that we could see the entire castle before it closed, had we have had more time I certainly would have lingered and soaked up the ambiance.  It felt like we were clicking off pictures wildly trying to see everything in record time.  They were excavating when we were there.  The Centre for Archaeological Fieldwork, QUB have been uncovering some of the 19th century military aspects of the castle.  In particular they've traced the length of tunnel where ordnance was off-loaded from ships and taken into the castle for storage.  It was rather fascinating to watch the excavation and the unearthing of history.   Sure beats anything you'll learn about in a text book!   What a wonderful moment in time for us as a family.  I never dreamed we'd have a chance to experience anything remotely close to this after Noah's diagnosis.  I never thought any of this would have been in our future.

I think that's what makes the entire experience so much more important and appreciated.  I know the value of what we did, I know how significant it was to venture so far from home, on a wing and a prayer - literally.   We blindly trusted this was meant to be and jumped in with both feet.   And there we were, at a castle in Ireland. 

I reached out touching a wall, as if I was leaving my fingerprints to say I was once here.  Remember me, I begged.  Remember how much courage we had to find our way so far from home.  We were writing our own beautiful history.   Noah loved the castle.  Luke likewise was rather attached to the idea after watching Mike the Knight on CBeebies at the hotel.

Noah seemed fascinated with the water,  and in awe of the large cannons that lined the perimeter of the water's edge. He also really loved that the sun peaked out just over the top of the castle's edge as the sun was going down.  That was rather a beautiful moment.  The sun felt so close as if you could just reach out and touch it.  I'm so glad we had an opportunity to see Carrickfergus Castle.  It made the journey feel complete.  The grand finale.

We left the castle to pack our bags and get ready for the early morning flight home.   Our beautiful adventure had come to a close.   We left the hotel at 6am in the following morning, with a last breakfast of delightful pastries.  Noah did amazing on all flights and only had some difficulties on the plane home from London to Denver.  It was a bumpy ride, with a very nerve-wracking landing that caused the plane to tip both directions.  Noah in true sensory style threw up four times.   Can't say I didn't feel like joining him.   But we were on the ground and home.  Noah's wheelchair suffered some damage to the handles on the final flight home, but so far British Airways have been amazing about that too.   And now we have so many good memories that will last a life time.

The last wonderful goodies from Ireland

We all had a little trouble adjusting to being home.  The boys were on Ireland time for an entire week, and Luke caught a cold the morning we left for home, which he later shared with Noah.   And we kind of felt like we left pieces of our heart back in Ireland.  But we gained and grew so much as a family and feel so very blessed.


Noah's Miracle by Stacy Warden is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.