I have always wanted to go to Ireland, but until now haven't really had the opportunity to go. I first traveled abroad when I was 16, a 10-day trip to Italy and Greece with my art teacher, her husband and about twelve others (mostly from our high school) including my cousin. Even though Italy was first, Ireland has always been first in my heart.
Like SO.MANY Americans, I have roots in Ireland. My maternal grandmother is 100% Irish. I know a little bit about my Irish family roots - my family came from County Fermanaugh in northern Ireland, quite possibly as a result of the oppression of Catholics. Was that the attraction to Ireland? Sure, part of it. But really, I've just always felt like Ireland is part of me. After this past year, the past two years of trauma and pain and loss, I felt like somehow if I went to Ireland, I would find me. Find. Recover. Discover. ...but reconnect with ME.
After Dan passed away, I thought, "I want to travel. I want to use this gift from Dan to see the world. To go on a pilgrimage."
In late April, as I felt emptied by grief...I stumbled across a post on Facebook from The Catholic Traveler: "We have 2 spots left for the pilgrimage to Ireland!" I clicked the link and saw "8 days/nights in Ireland," the dates, the price, and thought, "I could do this!" I didn't say yes. The next day I was talking with a friend/mentor and he said, "Jessica. You need to go. You should go. Do it. They'll find a way to cover the last week of orientation. You will love it. You need to go."
So, I came home that night, emailed Mountain and said, "I'm in!"
And that was it. I WAS GOING TO IRELAND.
That was all that mattered.
I didn't look at pictures. I didn't look at where we were going, where we were staying, or care who I was going with. I WAS GOING TO IRELAND.
At New Year's this year, I chose "healing" as my word. I wanted to find a way to heal. So, traveling to Ireland, this place I have always felt a deep connection to, which was grounded in the faith with other Catholics and Mass EVERY DAY: sounds like healing to me. Having to make ZERO decisions while visiting the place I've always wanted to be? Sounds like healing to me.
and away we went.
Yes, I did eventually read through the details again. No, I never did read my Rick Steves' Guide to Ireland. Yes, I did initiate the "get to know you" conversation on our Facebook page because well, I'm me, and because I needed to assure my in-laws that I knew at least a little about the 20ish people I'd be spending 8-9 days with.
|Just me in some crazy Lularoe leggings, posing on a rock|
Got it. Did I get everything packed into a carry-on? Yes. Did I have everything I needed? Yes. Did I receive FAR more than I ever expected? Oh yes. In the next few days, I'll catch you up on the details of the trip?
|Panoramic view of The Burren|