Everything about Ireland feels magical. I lived in a fairy tale for three weeks. Surrounded by 50 shades of green, my memory of the Emerald Isle is vivid. Even the people and their history seem like a storybook.
I met a nation gripping hope and peace on the tail end of dark circumstances. I read about “the troubles” of the Irish prior to visiting, but hearing tales directly from locals brought me to tears. Their story reeks of division, unforgiveness, bitterness, and death. It’s heartbreaking and echoes my own past and certainly, the present troubles experienced across the globe.
Their resilience is inspiring. It reminds me of a rainbow, it appears despite the violence of the preceding storm. I saw a rainbow every day in Ireland, both in the sky and in the people. It was a reminder to me that beauty surfaces even in the darkest times.
I traveled the breadth of the land, including both Northern Ireland and The Republic of Ireland. There was a day I took a bus from Belfast to Dublin, then drove the length of the island down to Dingle; it took all day and I would do it again this instant. I visited several counties, including exploring the Ring of Kerry, driving through The Burren, to The Cliffs of Moher and up the East coast.
This place is truly enchanted. There were moments when I drove around a bend, on a tiny dirt road, and upon seeing the view gasped; because of the beauty. These sublime moments were healing, surfacing awe and appreciation.
Their culture is rich and drowns you in a desire to spend hours driving through the countryside and invest equal hours in exploring their urban centers. At times I would walk into a room, filled with centuries of history, and become so fixated that it was hard to pull away. Every moment spent in Ireland was rapturous.
I have a hearty desire for well-spiced foods, growing up on the island that invented Jerk seasoning, my palate craves rich flavors. Folks warned me about Ireland, expecting I’d think my meals too bland. I expected my taste buds to be crying out for seasoning. I am delighted to report, my taste buds were beyond satisfied.
I found joy in delicious bowls of Irish Stew, sips of hot toddy at the Bushmills Distillery, cool glasses of Guinness (which truly tastes better the closer you are to Dublin) and great conversation with some of the warmest hearts on the planet.
For the first 10 days of my trip, I traveled with Missionary Ventures and stayed at Darkely House, which is managed by Crossfire Trust (a non-profit helping in practical ways in the surrounding communities).
I also stayed at Airb&b homes in the countryside, in every home I stayed I was welcomed like family. I’ve never felt more accepted amongst strangers. Each person I met was eager to hear about my travels and to give advice on things to see and explore. I fell in love with everything about this magical island and can’t wait to return someday.