Faith and Begorra!

Could it be? Am I back? I am indeed. We landed at JFK yesterday afternoon and took three trains, a bus, and a car back home. Never have I gone on vacation where I didn’t look forward to getting back home at the end of it – until now.

I’m enchanted. What an absolutely magical, mystical country. We saw most of it, missing maybe three counties as we went first southwest, then north and east from Killarney to Donegal to Dublin in 14 days. And in nearly every single place, stunning, breathtaking views that defy all adjectives. And the people. Never have I come across an entire country of people ready to engage you, eager to listen as well as to converse, happy to hear your journey in their country, and always ready to suggest something. And the blarney – I felt at home. My gift for gab now has an explanation. πŸ™‚

We saw exquisite vistas around nearly every turn. Each time, we said “That was the BEST thing I’ve ever seen.” And every time we explored something new, the last best discovery was topped. I didn’t think it was possible.

Kenmare and the southwestern coast was a land built for postcards. Mountains and rocks and coastal vistas just leap out of your imagination and right in front of you. We walked it, meditated on it, and soaked in the highest sea cliffs in Europe, the mountain passes complete with donkey and horse carts carrying people to the top, the shores, and the sheep trading going on in the center of town. We stayed here the longest, and were reluctant to leave.

Maybe that’s why Galway wasn’t so impressive. We spent two days here and came away feeling like the town was touristy and losing touch with its reality a bit. A lovely place, but it took some doing to find the “real” part of the city, which was much better than the designated shopping and music streets.

Then northward we went. The trip to Donegal and the stay there was home. I mean really. You couldn’t swing a cat without hitting a Gallagher or someone who knew or was married to one. We drove on back roads (I think – they all look like back roads) and found old farmsteads from when my people would have been there. We sat in Ardara, a tiny town with a big heart, and heard the most amazing traditional Irish music possible. It’s where my husband met blarney headfirst when he asked where the man found the orangish sheep in the pasture. “Carrots. We feed them tons of carrots.” I was laughing hysterically. It took him a moment – he didn’t grow up surrounded by BS.

He found his past in Cookstown, the Ulster area, now Northern Ireland. We were able to trace his ancestors not just to Cookstown, but to fields outside of town that were most likely where they lived. And having been in an area where my ancestors were, I understood when he said “This is it.” You just know.

So much to tell, so many special memories, from the best greeting ever by a customs agent, who gave my husband a taste of the connection and humor he was about to see firsthand to the way everyone from shop owner to road crew workers giving directions wanted to connect with us. It was home. It is home. The circle feels complete in a surprising way. I never realized just how much it wasn’t complete.

I’ll post snippets of my visit in the coming posts, and share a photo. This one is one of my favorites. It’s Slieve League, the highest sea cliffs in Europe. And the rainbows were a constant companion everywhere we went.

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  • Cathy October 28, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Yay!!! Welcome back, Lori! Sounds like a magical time. One of my favorite authors, Nora Roberts, has a love affair with Ireland and her descriptions really make you want to go there.

    Can't wait to hear your tales. Thanks for sharing your rainbow and welcome back!

  • ChuckB October 28, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Welcome back Lori. Can't wait to hear more about your journey. Chuck

  • Jake P October 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Lovely. I can even hear a bit-o-the-Irish lilt in your writing πŸ™‚

    Welcome home!

  • Joseph Hayes October 28, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    We felt the same way last week, coming back from Italy. Especially after the horrorshow of 6 hours in JFK.

    How come we always go on vacation at the same time?

  • Lori October 28, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    Great timing I think, Joseph. πŸ™‚ Hope you loved Italy. It really is a beautiful place.

    Cathy, I must read her stuff. That place has a way of capturing your heart. I want to see how she's spun it.

    Thanks, Chuck! Good seeing you, as always.

    Can't you feel the lilt, Jake? πŸ™‚ It's all I could do to not break into one while I was there. LOL

  • Sarah October 28, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Wow! So inspiring – makes me want to travel. Thanks so much for sharing πŸ™‚

  • Paula October 28, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Welcome back, even if it was hard to leave Ireland.

    Hearing your spin is a vast difference from the unending hours of hearing one of my best friends recounting her three trips to Ireland. For her it's not about the experience and the people, it's about the history, and she drones on like a boring historian. All these years later she expects I'll remember which dolman was where, and the history behind various locations. I finally told her it all sounds the same to me. Probably because she's not a raconteur like you. (I can however remember funny stories her husband told of their trips.)

    So – are you ready for your party? After that you can recover from your vacation.

  • Wendy October 28, 2010 at 4:36 pm

    Welcome back. It sounds like you had a great time in Ireland.I'm mostly Italian,Spanish and Scottish with some German and French heritages. I only have a sliver of Irish in me, but I've always felt a bit of a pull to see Ireland for myself.

    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip.

  • becky October 28, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    Welcome back! Sounds like a fabulous time. Makes me want to go there even more. Someday, I hope.

    Looking forward to hearing more & seeing some additional pics.

  • Anne Wayman October 28, 2010 at 7:26 pm

    Welcome home… at least your home of the moment… is moving to Ireland a possibility? Sounds like that in your post.


  • Lori October 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    Oh Anne, from your lips to God's ears! I wish. No, we'll be staying American for a while longer. πŸ™‚

  • hugh.c.mcbride October 28, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Welcome back, Lori! Sounds like a great trip — & what a beautiful rainbow photo! Looking forward to additional stories & photos. Now get some rest, fer cryin' out loud πŸ™‚

  • Irreverent Freelancer October 28, 2010 at 8:39 pm

    Oh my gosh! It sounds so amazing. I'm expecting more pictures either here or on Facebook. Gotta live it vicariously. Oh that I were a millionaire so I could travel the world.

    You know, I felt the same way about Switzerland–an instant connection, like I'd found a lost piece of me. I don't think the fact that I have a Swiss bloodline and that such a sensation arose was merely a coincidence.

  • Ashley October 28, 2010 at 11:55 pm

    Sounds like it was a wonderful trip! But we missed you and we're glad to have you back πŸ™‚ Welcome home!

  • Gabriella F. October 29, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Welcome back, Lori!

    I enjoyed the guest bloggers, but they weren't our friend and wise one. Good to have you back!

  • Diane October 29, 2010 at 10:20 am

    It truly is a beautiful country. What a fantastic visit you had, and such a lovely time by the sound of it.

    Welcome home.

  • Lori October 29, 2010 at 11:09 am

    Thanks for such a warm welcome home, everyone. I missed you all – even those of you who lurk or are too shy to comment.

  • Devon Ellington October 29, 2010 at 5:51 pm