It’s been a month (already), and I still can’t come up with anything other than “it wasn’t long enough” when someone asks me how my trip was. Because to me, it wasn’t just any trip, it was THE trip I’d been dreaming of. And while experiencing it in all it’s magical glory, it’s hard to explain the feelings I felt while being in a country that has continuously called my name for as long as I can remember.
The year 2016 is a milestone year for anybody born in 1986. And while I didn’t actually celebrate the day of my birth in a big way, I decided months before that I was going to plan a trip that I’d been dreaming of. Ireland is apart of my genealogy and apart of my heart. I can’t exactly explain it, but I felt as if the little island was calling me home. My heart was telling me I needed to visit the place I’d been in love with for the longest time. With my own intentions in mind, I decided that I was doing something for me, regardless of how much I was going to spend – and I did.
The instant we landed I knew it was the right choice. It was a grey and rather chilly day but it didn’t bother me in the least. My heart was exploding with happiness knowing that I was finally in the one place I knew I’d feel at home. Sure our days were full of bus tours, attractions and long drives but every moment was magical. This country (like many European countries) is full of rich history and enchanting stories. It was easy to be captivated by the beauty of the land and the magic of the people.
Dublin (Dubh-Linn), while being the biggest city (by far) in Ireland, didn’t have the big city feel. While dominated by tourism, it didn’t give off the vibe of being your typical tourist destination. Old buildings mixed in with the new, it’s almost as if two different centuries collided with ease. Instead of tearing down relics, they cherish them. They incorporated two very different eras and created something so unique that can only be described as beautiful. No matter how often I looked, I couldn’t get over the beauty the city and the rest of the country held in the simple fact they loved their history.
Climbing the steps of Blarney Castle to kiss the infamous stone, delving into the history of the Muckross House, and catching some of the most breathtaking views in the entire world, were only a few of the many adventures we came to experience during our one week journey through The Republic of Ireland. My eyes were never tired of wandering and my ears never tired of listening, always trying to take in as much as I possibly could. Like that of a child, I was captivated by absolutely everything. I couldn’t help but enjoy every moment learning about a country that had an origin to my family name. I love Canada and I love being Canadian. We’re one of the most respected and loved countries, but it lacks the history the rest of the world has. Where our buildings are 149-ish years old, cities like Dublin has buildings still in use (more specifically Dublin Castle) that have been around for over 800 years. The difference is astounding.
I can’t say enough about the sites and sounds of the country as a whole but what I enjoyed the most were the people. No matter where we went we were welcome with open arms and open hearts. Whether it be a trait from a country who thrives on tourism or it be their natural charm, their genuine smiles and willingness to start a conversation was the first thing I noticed. No matter where you went people were willing to chat you up, tell you a story or ask you where you’re from. A charming horse ride through Killarney National Park had me charmed to pieces simply because our driver (Cal) took the time to give us a little more detail into their rich history, kept us entertained with stories and witty jokes, and easily made me blush speaking in the Gaelic language. That being said, it was so easy to just sit back and get caught up in listening to what they had to say. The beautiful lilt to their voice had me weak in the knees.
If I could drop everything and move wherever you wanted in the world, I would not hesitate to call Ireland my home. I realize people say it’s different being a tourist and not a regular everyday citizen, but I can only tell you what my heart keeps shouting from the rooftops. It’s been a month since I came back from this trip and I still long for it every moment. I still wish I could smell the fresh country air, enjoy an Irish coffee at a bar older than North America, and listen to the beautiful lilt of the Irish folk. Even now, just thinking about where I’ve been makes me long for everything I had just a short month ago. I know I sound crazy, and it may seem absurd but I’m sure there are a few of you who wouldn’t hesitate to say the same.
That being said, I can’t finish this post without mentioning the amazing company that allowed us to view as much of The Republic of Ireland as possible. Trafalgar Tours has a history for creating memorable adventures and this was no exception. From our wonderful local tour guide Valarie and our bus driver Jimmy, to the unexpected pit stops, the optional experiences and the “Be Our Guest” dining, everything was top notch from start to finish. They know how to take care of their guests and make them feel like they belong. If you are trying to decide on a tour company, I can tell you personally, you will not be disappointed.