Ireland is my answer every time I’m asked what is the one place I would love to visit. It’s the same answer for my mother, sister, and father. So of course, the second question then: why Ireland? Because we’re not Irish. At all. We lost my dad very recently. Actually, when the contest winner is announced on March 17 it will be one month after his death on February 17, 2016. All my reasons for wanting to travel to Ireland are because of the passions and loves my mom and he found in the beauty and culture of that country. It’s the music, the land, the history – and yes, the beer, too. My dad, the musician, played many instruments and was always searching for and finding new music to listen to and draw inspiration from. Celtic music was one of his favorites. Rhythms of the jig and reel beats of the bodhran, the traditional melodies played by guitars, accordions, penny whistles, bouzouki, and fiddle… he wanted to learn to play them all, and succeeded in most! And if he wasn’t playing it, then we were listening to it on our home stereo. He was also an amateur historian. (He never did anything halfway. Everything he took interest in became a passion.) Through his own research he learned we aren’t connected to Ireland, but that didn’t stop him from learning more about the country’s own history, even if our family wasn’t a part of it. His excitement has led to some of my own research and reading. In addition, we always celebrated St. Patrick’s day with old Irish traditions. My dad, the beer and whisky drinker, was the first to serve me, and many others, our first Guinness. He knew it was an acquired taste, but it was a stout he loved, and I share that love with him! He loved many ales and stouts, but no other beer beat a Guinness. But my most vivid images of my dad are walking in the woods. He was a great woodworker, but most of all he loved the trees that gave the wood. He loved being outdoors, talking with the trees, walking in fields and thickets. He and my mom bought coffee table books of Ireland’s landscape and dreamed of the day when he could hike through the rocks of the Giants Causeway, trek along the Cliffs of Moher and surrounding countryside, or drive the scenic paths in the Ring of Kerry. For years my parents have saved, little by little, lots and lots of loose change, to make this dream trip happen. My sister and i are recently out of college, so my own saving for this trip has begun, but it will be many years. I mourn now the fact that he’ll never make the trip. But my mom still can, my sister and I still can for him. Ireland now means more to me than it even did before, because now it’s a chance to honor and remember my dad. We’ll savor the green of the land, listen to the music at the pub, and raise a pint to him! (Any chance we can make it a trip for 3?)
You don’t have to be Irish or even have Irish descendants to feel connected to the beautiful Emerald Island. For some reason, the rolling hills, rugged coasts, grande Ireland Castles, the friendly locals, delicious food, and the historic cities all create a land that is truly intriguing to all. Find what intrigues you most with our list of Ireland Activities – then give us a call to start planning your dream vacation today!