Ruminations on the Emerald Isle
I was sitting on the patio of a bed and breakfast hotel in Doolin, Ireland when my mind stopped racing. I wasn't particularly anxious before this moment; in fact, I was more relaxed than I've been in a while. I was staring out towards the north, the view replete with the classic features of an Irish landscape: rolling hills, pastures, distant charcoal-colored mountains, and classic adjoined houses. The Irish countryside was doing something for me that few places can -- it drew me in so completely that I was in the midst of a perfect mindfulness session. Everything but this idyllic scene was immaterial, and my mind sat perfectly still for a few minutes. As I ate dinner an hour later (which was, incidentally, one of the best meals of my life), I questioned to myself: why has it taken me so damn long to visit this place?
Dublin is a wonderful city, and I cannot recommend a visit enough. The pubs, by and large, are authentic and welcoming. The museums are worth far more than their admission prices. The parks are splendid in the spring bloom. Dublin, however, is still a city -- not my ideal place to remain for long.
The majority of the trip was spent ferrying myself and family around the countryside, behind the wheel of a Skoda Rapid -- a hilarious name for a car that is maddeningly slow and completely unremarkable. We can cover more of that in another blog post.
Ireland's residents greeted us at each stop with genuine hospitality and good cheer -- I've scarcely come across a nation of people this friendly. Never was this more evident than at the O'Brien Family Reunion, which gathered some 150+ descendants of one Cornelius O'Brien together to enjoy the company of O'Briens from around the world. I'd consider myself a success if I could live up to the geniality of the people I met on this trip.
Looking back, the vacation was over just as quickly as it began. Ten days, while a generous helping of time, wasn't enough to really soak in the Irish way of life. I'd fly back tomorrow and stay for a month, if I had a bank account large enough to match my impulsiveness.
I had another moment of complete clarity towards the end of my trip. It was just after dawn on the coastline of the Ring of Kerry, and I had just hiked out to the beach. Morning fog was rolling off of a few distant mountains, tiny waves lapped lazily on the shore, and a sea bird ambled by, almost as if it was enjoying the view as much as I was. Any thoughts I was having until that moment dropped away effortlessly, and I intensely savored what I was witnessing.
It takes a lot for one place to mesmerize me. Ireland did this to me twice within a week. I could try to analyze why I haven't visited sooner, but that would be wasted effort. I'm looking forward now, not backward.
If anyone is as impulsive as I am, drop me a line. I'll be your driver. Let's go see Ireland.