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We decided to return to Ireland for 3 weeks in the fall of 2001, after our enjoyable visit in 2000. Even just one year later, rapid changes and development are evident. The Ireland of 2001 seems to be a country in transition. This year, the effects of the Irish economic boom were even more apparent than last year.
Named for St. Columbkille, who founded a monastery there in the sixth century, Glencolumbkille is an idyllic town by the sea on the tip of a peninsula in southwestern Donegal. This area has been inhabited since the Stone Age, and is rich in pre-Celtic megalithic sites. Much more than in most other parts of Ireland, especially since the current period of remarkable prosperity began around 7 years ago, the community of Glencolumbkille retains and actively preserves and protects the traditional practices that the Irish associate with the "real Ireland." While there, we saw people out in the bogs cutting turf (peat) for their personal use in heating their homes, thatching their roofs in preparation for winter, herding sheep with sheep dogs, and hand-looming tweed fabrics. These activities are a natural part of the course of ordinary life in Glencolumbkille, but have become rare sights in most other parts of the island. We had the good fortune of visiting after the tourist season. We enjoyed spending time there at a time when the people were especially relaxed in their interactions with us, being free of the distractions presented by hosting sizable numbers of tourists in their small community during the summer. .