Ireland Vacation | August 2014

Where do I even start?  For as long as I can remember, my mother has been studying our family history.  It's because of her I know, quite extensively, all of the various people who had to come together to create me and my immediate family as I know it today.  I am a mutt, with roots tracing back to a whole range of countries making up my very American blood.  On my maternal side, I have predominantly Irish, Italian and Polish roots.  I'm not very unique, just another American wanting to know more about where her ancestors came from, and having a desire to travel, I have been dreaming of a trip to Ireland for years.  Victor and I returned from my very first trip abroad just this past weekend.  It was everything I imagined and so much more.  We go about our daily routines and we see the same sights day in and day out.  Because of that we tend to lose our sense of wonder about the world.  Travel will make you feel small again, to remind you how big and vast the world is.  To make you think about what has come before and what will come after you.  It reminds you to be grateful for what you have, and helps you gain perspective.  There's no room in your mind for the trials and tribulations of life when you are exploring and taking in new experiences.  I think we all need that from time to time.  

Our time in Ireland was spent riding down narrow country roads, stopping every few miles to take in another brilliant view and snap as many photographs as we could to make sure we'd never forget.  I spent much less time talking, much less time thinking and worrying.  More time seeing, observing, absorbing, and being present in the moment.

Our itinerary:

Day 1 - RDU > BOS > DUB.
Day 2 - Dublin, Glendalough, Guinness Lake (County Wicklow)
Day 3 - Limerick, Blarney Castle, Cobh
Day 4 - Adare, Killarney National Park (Muckross House, Torc Waterfall, Ladies View), Slea Head Drive (Dingle Peninsula)
Day 5 - Galway, Cliffs of Moher, The Burren
Day 6 - Cloonbanaun, Tonroe, & Shrule (the area where my ancestors lived); Castlebar, Ballinrobe (County Mayo)
Day 7 - Dublin

Fun Observations:

- Ice cold drinks are not a thing in Ireland.
- On our jaunting carriage ride through Killarney National Forest, the tour guide joked that a boat tour out on the lake would be best with a six pack and a bag of weed.  You should have seen my face in that moment.
- In Adare, one of the most charming little places ever, we passed by a bridal shop in the most beautiful little historic building. I turned my head to peek in and saw a bride standing right in the doorway trying on a dress, flanked by the shopkeeper and her friend/family member.  You wouldn't believe how badly I wanted to go in!  If you had witnessed this scene, you would have sworn it was out of a movie.
- The Blarney House & Muckross House made us feel like we were on the set of a Downton Abbey episode.
- Ireland takes their GAA (Gaelic Athletic Association) seriously, their two primary sports being football (soccer) and hurling.  Teams are divided by county, and as we drove throughout Ireland we loved seeing the colorful county flags displayed proudly and prominently in each village, on homes, etc.  I wish I had bought a flag for County Mayo. :)
- While walking through Dingle one night, we heard live music coming from one of the pubs.  The performer was singing "Take Me Home, Country Roads."  I very happily sang along as we walked by.

Now...come along with us...