I remember the first time I found a four-leaf clover. I was eight years old. The moment I picked it, I stood frozen, expecting a leprechaun (similar to the one in the Lucky Charms cereal commercials) would magically appear in my California backyard and transport me to his pot of gold in far-away Ireland.
Nearly three decades later, I’m still waiting for the little chap!
And though I no longer expect to find a pot of gold on the Emerald Isle, I’m confident the journey itself would prove to be far more valuable. I envision a lush, mystical land filled with unspoiled landscapes, stunning medieval castles, and friendly pubs where visitors can enjoy a pint (or two) of Guinness while listening to live music. I see myself reconnecting with my heritage in the towns of my ancestors, wandering the same streets they once did and dreaming of a time long, long ago.
I would love to hike through breathtaking countryside, and stare in awe at the stunning Cliffs of Moher. I’d also visit plenty of ruins, forts, and Celtic cemeteries. I would rent a car, and drive the Wild Atlantic Way to see rugged coastline and haunting vistas, filled with ancient monuments, standing stones and walking trails. And along the way, stop in charming villages to enjoy a traditional Irish meal (and perhaps another pint of Guinness).
When I was 13, I read the memoir “Angela’s Ashes” by Irish author Frank McCourt. It remains one of my favorite books. Despite all the hardships he encountered as a boy, many passages are told with heartfelt humor and charm. It solidified my fascination with Ireland. When the movie came out a few years later, I saw it the first day it opened in theaters. I even bought the soundtrack, and would often listen to it alone in my bedroom and imagine life in McCourt’s native Limerick. So you can see, Ireland has been an obsession nearly my whole life!
“Angela’s Ashes” also made me realize the best part about Ireland is its people. I see them as friendly and full of charm, who take kindly to travelers. I would love to meet them, listen to their stories, share a laugh and clink a few drinks. Perhaps they can join me fishing, horseback riding or clay pigeon shooting. I hear there’s even surfing in Ireland, which as a Southern Californian is something I must see! Plus, my new Irish friends might teach me how to pronounce a few Gaelic words!
For me, Ireland has always been more than a destination. It is a dream. A place that values tradition and culture, without taking itself too seriously. Life can be hectic and stressful, so it’s humbling to believe there are still places in this world where people try to find joy in each other’s company and the simple things.
And perhaps the leprechaun I once imagined would take me there, turns out to be Authentic Ireland, and all the (kind and generous) voters in its essay contest!
While many of us dream of the land where leprechauns are said to roam, few of us jump at the opportunity to take a trip to Ireland – That’s where we come in. Don’t worry about spending hours researching an itinerary, just tell one of our many dedicated travel experts what type of Ireland experiences you’d like to discover and we’ll make it happen.