As a child, I remember looking forward to Heritage Week at school, the one week of the year where we all celebrated the countries our ancestors had come from. I know, many people grumble about Americans proudly stating that we’re Irish or Italian or German, but come on. We’re a country sewn from the seeds of other cultures, hence the term melting pot. (Or is the PC term salad now, as other countries aren’t meant to assimilate but to retain their cultural identities while mingling with others?) And besides, I don’t remember hearing any reports about Native American history and culture.
My reports were always on Ireland, the country of my father’s grandparents. I’d write knowledgeably on the potato famine and explain with certainty the climate of the little green island, a place that, despite my factual research, I knew was home to a secret population of leprechauns, elves, and fairies. My grandfather would bake Irish soda bread, which often had the consistency of a rock, and I’d proudly tote the bread and my report to school.
As an adult, my enchantment with the Emerald Isle has not waned. Instead, I’m more fascinated than ever by Ireland’s charming culture and its magical folklore.
Kacey, Allison, and I booked our trip to Ireland back in January, hinging high hopes on a road trip and a jam-packed itinerary. (Really. If it were an actual jar of jam, the lid would’ve been bursting.) Hoping to keep cheap, we spared expenses where we could, staying with friends of mine and renting a manual car without a GPS, which was an added ten euro a day. We would rely on paper maps like the old days, and navigate winding dirt roads using only the stars above to steer us.
My father was so concerned about our map-reading skills that he sent me a last minute, harried text at the airport that read:
“Get the GPS. I’ll pay.”
With obstinacy and optimism, we clung to our paper map and soldiered on, despite my father’s worry across the pond and the very observable concern of the man at the Budget rental office. Kacey expertly charted our course throughout most of the journey, and while we made a few wrong turns here and there, we were ultimately successful in arriving at our destinations.
The next few entries detail our journey through Ireland, an “anti-clockwise” endeavor, as they say, beginning in Dublin and ending in Shannon. Laced with adventure, silliness, and a bit of that ol’ Irish charm, our trip is one for the books. (Which is exactly why I’m writing about it.)
Thanks to Kacey and Allison for the photos.