Remembering Ireland the Second Time Around

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I’ve been feeling a little glum the last few weeks, and it reminded me of this exact time two years ago: I was fairly depressed from the holidays, and glad they were over. I was back on my medication after a 4 month break, and things were starting to look up (thanks to the fact that the chemical imbalance in my brain was being treated again). It was around this time that I came up with the idea to visit Ireland again. It had been fifteen months since my study abroad, and I was itching to travel again.

There were a few glitches in my plan. One, I didn’t want to travel alone. Two, I wasn’t sure how to plan a trip of that magnitude. And three, I wasn’t sure if I had the money for it. My dad and I had tentatively planned to go to Peru to visit my brother, but those plans fell through when his itinerary back to the states was planned ahead of schedule and wouldn’t leave time for us to see him if we went. So I came up with a new destination for Daddy and I: Ireland.

Going to Ireland with my dad cleared up my worries, but added an additional glitch. My mom. Now, my mom isn’t the biggest fan of spending money on travel. She had never left the United States. But when I decided I wanted to go back to Ireland, and bring my dad, I realized my mom needed to come too. So I set about convincing her—that it was worth the money, that the scenery was beyond anything you’d see in Texas, that the people there are so friendly it’s almost unbelievable. And slowly I brought her around to the idea that a trip to Ireland was a good idea. My parent’s 25th wedding anniversary had just passed and they wanted to do something special. So I convinced them to tag along with me.

My mom and I started planning immediately. We made sure their passports were up to date (mine was still good since I’d only had it two years) and started looking up hotels in the cities we thought we’d want to visit. That’s where my dad came in. He wanted to see as much of the island as we could fit into a week, so we went for a triangular approach: fly into Dublin (on Ireland’s east coast), drive through the night to Galway (on the west coast), see some sights around there before heading south to Cork, and back to Dublin for the last few days.

Now that I knew the cities we would visit, I started looking for tourist destinations in the vicinity. I was quickly shot down when I suggest the Aran Islands (a rocky boat ride to a tiny island in the rain didn’t seem very appealing to either parent), and settled for the Cliffs of Moher. Except, it’s physically impossible to SETTLE for those cliffs. Their beauty and majesty are like nothing I’ve ever seen (but could probably be compared to the Grand Canyon, if you’ve ever been there). We saw the Cliffs after an extremely pleasant walk around Galway (officially our favorite Irish city) where we bought Claddagh rings and enjoyed the view of the sea.

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The big tourist site we chose next was Blarney Castle, infamous for the Blarney Stone located at the very top where people can lay on their backs, reach their neck out, and kiss a piece of the castle (a tradition that has been going on for several hundred years. Hopefully they didn’t have mono back then!). Kissing the Blarney Stone is an experience I’ll never forget, but I also don’t think I’ve seen castle grounds as picturesque as those found at Blarney Castle. The morning had been spent in the north at the Cliffs, and it had been gray and wet. But the afternoon was spent in the south at Blarney, and the sun was shining warmly on the grounds. The river sparkled past and even the poisonous garden looked inviting!

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Our final stay was outside Dublin, and we spent those last couple of days exploring the city. We saw enormous herds of deer at Phoenix Park, and walked around Grafton Street and Temple Bar (we weren’t huge fans of the drunken crowds there) and tried to see as many cool things as we could: Trinity University (home to the famous Book of Kells), Bru na Boine (ancient burial mounds an hour north of Dublin), Molly Malone (very booby), and Dublin Castle (which I was surprised to find looks more Neoclassic than Medieval).

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My second trip to Ireland helped prove my love of the country and its people. As much as I love living in America, I’m just going to have to visit Ireland every few years to give my soul a much-needed reboot.

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