Last week, I got to reconnect with my roots with a visit to Ireland! Before I begin, I’d just like to point out that this trip was monumental in a few ways. First, it was the first time I booked a plane ticket all on my own (snaps for me!). Second, it was the first time I flew Ryanair which I believe is a rite of passage for study abroad students. And third, I got to meet my family!
I left bright and early on Saturday morning to catch the first Tube to Liverpool Street, where I took the Stansted Express to the airport. The flight was quick and easy and I have to say, Ryanair is not that bad at all. Once I landed at Shannon, I was greeted with lots of hugs and welcomes from my family and we set off for the day’s adventures!
We stopped first at Dromoland Castle for (completely necessary) tea and scones since I was famished after the journey! Dromoland Castle is a very high-end golf course and hotel where people have their weddings and other fancy events, so having tea in the garden made me feel oh-so chic :)
From there, we went to the Cliffs of Moher, which are on the western coast of Ireland near a little town called Doolin. The weather was absolutely pristine that day, which was great because we went on a ferry ride to see the cliffs right from the water (the best way to see them, I think!). The sea air felt lovely and the scenery was breathtaking. (Fun fact: a scene from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince was shot near the cliffs — can you guess which one?) After stopping for lunch at a pub in Doolin (and watching Ireland destroy Scotland in the rugby match that day!), we began our drive along the Clare Coast and Burren National Park. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves...
Needless to say, I was exhausted when we finally got home, so I slept very well that night.
On Sunday, my family took me to the historic town and castle at Bunratty, which was about 15 minutes from where I was staying. I’ve always loved historic towns — something about getting to poke around in all of the buildings and walk along the paths lets me get a real feeling for the town and its history — so we had great craic that day! I also tried a Bailey’s coffee, which is coffee with Bailey’s Irish cream, topped with whipped cream, and it was love at first sip. This certainly warranted a slainte! (Cheers!) That night was Sunday dinner with almost all of my cousins and after a whole term of cooking for myself, I really appreciated the home cooking :)
Monday was quite an adventure: Eyeries to see my great-grandmother’s house! It was about a three hour drive down to Eyeries, which is a little town on one of the “fingers” of Ireland. Words cannot do the scenery justice, trust me. There was something so pure about the rolling hills and the cliffs, the tiny winding roads, and the sparkling coast and I was absolutely mesmerised the entire time. I felt completely at ease because it was so quiet and undisturbed and the colors were so vibrant. The scenery alone would have been lovely, but nothing could prepare me for what came next. I got to see the very house where my great-grandmother grew up and from which she left 88 years ago at the age of 17 to come to America. Surreal doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt the moment I laid eyes on the little house. Can you imagine, for a second, being 17 years old, having grown up in a remote town in the mountains of Ireland, and walking out the front door knowing that you will never see your family or your home again? I thought I was making a big leap when I came to London, but I have Skype, an iPhone, and a plane ticket home, so this doesn’t even compare.
Tuesday was my last day, but it was a full one! I sent off a bunch of postcards to family in the states, and we took a beautiful drive through the centre of Limerick. We stopped for lunch at the University of Limerick where my uncle studied when he was about my age. It’s a lovely campus and the music building had a beautiful mural that I simply had to capture! We then drove to Annacotty and saw even more gorgeous scenery — I couldn’t get enough!
After a final meal with my cousins, it was time to head to the airport, but I had had such a great time that I wasn’t even that sad to leave. It sounds odd, but I got to do so much in a few short days, and I felt so lucky that I got to spend time with my family (who spoiled me shamelessly, by the way!), that I was in a great mood on the flight home. Also, I’m already looking at flights to return — that’s how in love I am with Ireland!
Inspired to be,