I cried. When our plane touched down at Shannon Airport, I felt the tightening in my throat and the wetness in my eyes. It wasn’t a long voyage to a childhood home or a journey that was coming to an end. It was a release from the pent up anticipation for the one item on my bucket list — visiting Ireland. I’m not sure when I developed my obsession for the island across the pond, but for decades the island across the pond has been calling me.
I will admit that there was a bit of fear in answering the call. What if it isn’t what I expected? What if it was exactly like the Pacific Northwest coast region I called home? What if it was like all the American Irish pubs?
From the imagery on the silver screen to the drumbeats captured on CD, it would be easy to have inflated expectations of this far away land. It would be easy to be let down once I merged myself into the daily lives of the folks that call it home.
But it hasn’t. Far from it.
The pictures of the rolling green hills and landscape dotted by fuzzy sheep are true. In fact, I am having a hard time capturing an image of Ireland on my tablet that is anything but amazing. (Don’t worry, we are using a “real” camera also!)
It isn’t just visual. The magic lies in the sound of the flute played on a downtown Galway street or the stories told by our AirBnB host Kevin. Every person we have met has been warm, friendly and welcoming. Drivers on the narrow carriageways wave at one another, regardless of knowing the other vehicle occupants or how many cars are lined up.
On Wednesday evening, we attended a Galway Toastmasters Club meeting. We were treated to four speeches from fellow Toastmasters with an Irish accent. They asked us about our club, told us about theirs and shared stories about the area during the two hour meeting. The club gave us a common ground, but our love of story telling is what furthered the connection.
Ireland, I have answered the call. You aren’t getting rid of me.