May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand… – Unknown.
There are some parts of history that we may never know, but we have today.
I am not certain that anyone knows where this Irish blessing came from, not that it makes a great deal of difference other than knowing what meaning it had for the author. What I do know is how meaningful it is to us as a family, when we consider how many people have come and gone in our lives over the last many years. We have this wish for everyone that has been a part of our lives, present, past, and future. Often we are unaware of whether any one person will be a friend for a reason (mutual circles or engagements), a season (whilst your children are at school), or a lifetime (those friendships that stand the test of time through all of life ups and downs). I feel like this is a fluid concept and can change unexpectedly at any time. In fact a few years ago my youngest daughter Mackenzie attended school with N, a little girl who moved with her mother R temporarily from Ireland for work. Mackenzie really missed her when she left, however we had discussed visiting them in Ireland when we eventually moved to England (of course if I didn’t run with her idea to nurse in Ireland first).
Time passed and details were lost when Kevin’s phone died, and unfortunately nothing was backed up to the sim card. After being here for quite some time it dawned on us that we remembered her saying we could email her at work and we remembered then where that was. Fast forward a few months later and we were on our way to the Emerald Isle for a short visit, flying into Shannon Airport near Country Clare. The flight was easy and fast, more so that the drive from Kent to Gatwick – we thought we would miss our flight!
On arrival we went for a short trip to Limerick to explore King John’s Castle and look at the local graveyard – both my husband and my eldest daughters father’s family originate from here and we did happen to see a few gravestones that could be distant relatives. We had intended on driving to Tipperary where my husband’s family had survived the potato famine but since it was already rainy and cold and we had waited far longer for our hire car than expected, we were content with the fly by version instead for now.
Arriving at their home we were warmly greeted and treated like family, and Mackenzie was excited to see her friend once again. After a lovely afternoon filling in lost time and relaxing, Mackenzie was to stay for a sleepover, whilst Kevin and I went off to celebrate our 11th wedding anniversary with a night in Galway. We were humbled by their offer for us to have this opportunity and we felt like newly weds again.
Galway is a vibrant city filled with pubs, shops, and not at all as rowdy as I thought it would be. We stayed in a lovely hotel close to the centre called the Western Hotel, which was reasonably, had great service, and served the most amazing dinner in the downstairs restaurant. Although rainy we wandered the streets of Galway the next morning until it was time to go, especially since we were encouraged not to rush back.
We spent that day and the following day exploring before having to fly back home, and as I have said before – the way to see a place is through a locals eyes (at least in this has been true of our last few trips). We went to visit The Burren to find a vast and interesting landscape, and the presence of a history as old as 8000 BC. The most prominent feature is the Poulnabrone Dolmen which is a tomb that dates back to around 2900 – 4200 BC, and can be accessed for free (but viewed and not touched), but care should be taken in the wet when it would be easy to slip on the smooth rocky landscape.
We were lucky to have visited this beautiful cafe when we did, with many places closing for the winter, it was only days away from their down season. The food was delicious and comforting on such a windy cold day. I feel like it is little gems like this that make a trip special, and we were grateful for the experience. We then left and found ourselves winding along the coastline of the Atlantic Way and ended up at a pub in Doolin, where we enjoyed a snack and a guiness in the very seat where many traditional Irish musicians play their music to this day. The bar is lined with dollar bills and other paraphernalia from many countries so of course we did our bit and ended up putting a 5 Euro note with our name on it above the bar. Gus O’Connor’s Pub is the place to visit, and somewhere we would like to return to enjoy a music session over a guiness.
The following day we enjoyed a walk around the cliffs not far from the Cliffs of Moher, mostly because the weather meant this was a more enjoyable walk. Rugged up, it was refreshing seeing and hearing the crash of the large waves on the rugged shoreline. We have realised that there is nothing better and more cost efficient that taking snacks and a flask of hot chocolate to enjoy at the end of these walks, and is something we want to do more of. It is ideas like this that make trips far more cost-effective and personal. We did however end the day with a tasty hot meal inside another seaside pub, cozied up by a fire and enjoying the last moments together with friends.
I know I have only covered this trip briefly, but sometimes that is all that is needed. We will certainly go back to visit our friends and to explore the beautiful place that Ireland is, and by then Mackenzie and I will know how to play the Irish tin whistle – a gift from her friend.
Where have you been that you would visit over and over again?