I’m no stranger to Ireland. This trip was not my first nor my last. But it was my first time in Ireland as an adult, which opens the doors to the magical world of…
But that didn’t impede my playtime on the farm. There were lambs to cuddle and cow pies to dodge.
Despite my very Anglo-Saxon surname, I’m more Irish than anything else. My mother’s parents grew up in rural Ireland and immigrated to the United States in their early twenties, where they met (on a blind date) and married. Whenever I’ve visited Ireland, I’ve stayed in my grandfather’s hometown of Glenbeigh in County Kerry. Glenbeigh a small coastal town, bordered by Rossbeigh Beach and patchwork hills. In typical Irish fashion, the roads are impossibly narrow and often occupied by farm animals. The one main street is peppered with pubs and inns, and I’m pretty sure I’m related to everyone who frequents them. So… ixnay on the irtingflay.
Many years ago, my cousins and siblings and I used to roam the farmlands like a slightly less violent Lord of the Flies tribe. We staked out new turf, bestowing grassy knolls and creek beds with names like “Mysterious Falls” and “Sheep City.” We teased bulls until they charged us. Our legs were mangled by thistles and thorns, and I took more than one bloody spill while running atop the stone walls. We searched for leprechauns and fairies and pondered the possibility that we were secretly descendants of Irish royalty, or better yet, mythical characters like Diarmuid and Grainne. And I developed the disturbing habit of collecting sun-bleached sheep bones from the mountainside and taking them home to America. Can you imagine being the TSA agent who screens that carry-on?
For better or worse, I did less tribal roaming/voodoo and more relaxing in pubs this time around.
I had just returned from Georgia a few weeks before this trip with no interest in traveling again for a long time. But with some encouragement from my family and a nostalgic glance at the old vacation albums, I decided that a return to my roots might be good for me. And it was. The farm was quiet, surrounded only by the sounds of April rain showers and bleating lambs. Without internet access, I was forced to read or make conversation with the neighbors (or their sheep) for entertainment. It made me feel warm-and-fuzzy inside to be staying next to the cottage where my grandfather’s grandfather was born, and I wondered if I should just move here for a summer or a year or two. Work the land, collect my drinking water in rain barrels, slowly write the next great American novel. Then my wifi-withdrawal shakes returned and I started clawing at the walls.
Up next: Dublin and Northern Ireland!
Charming Glenbeigh and Rossbeigh: