My father was one of 9 children – seven girls and then the last two were boys. I clearly remember family get-togethers and houses full of aunts & uncles, cousins and spouses of cousins. When you are young like I was while all those aunts and uncles were alive – you don’t know what it means to have them around. You don’t really appreciate all they can tell you and all you can learn. You are just a kid and they are the grownups around and it seems like all is well.
As they aged and began passing, in my maturity I realized what I was losing and all the missed opportunity to learn from them the history of the family and of myself!
The oldest of the sisters, my aunt who was in her 90s, surviving most of her siblings was living in Harrisburg PA at an assisted living facility. I would call on her, and we would talk and she one day handed me a tour book on Ireland and told me stories about my grandfather and how he had immigrated thru Baltimore to the US in the early 1900s from Ballyhaunis in County Mayo – and that there was a sizeable clan of Waldrons still there. She had visited a few decades before.
In 2008, I invited my mother who was in her 70s to go with me on an adventure and we went to the lovely green isle for a week of wonderful exploration. Arriving in Dublin and walking the downtown, renting a car and setting out for the northwest shoreline and all the while staying in the homes of the most welcoming people as we made our way around the country to County Mayo and into Ballyhaunis.
It was most satisfying and really I felt right at home. The time flew and the in all too short a time it was over and we returned to the US.
I still hear the call and want to return and spend more time exploring, acquainting and satisfying my soul in the bosom of the country of my heritage. I am proud to be Irish American and thrilled to have visited once and look forward to my return.
The memories we brought with us, of the urban life of Dublin, the breathtaking Abbeys churches, and historic ruins were images one would expect. The surprises were the northwest and the western coast, the burren and the absolute natural artistry of the land. Everywhere you looked was a picturesque vista. And the visit to Waterford, the castle tours and the conversations with the locals brought home the true history and gave me a glimpse of what my life could easily have been like.
My aunt has passed now and I will forever be grateful for her sharing her experience and stories to inspire me to make the journey myself. As my mother and I reminisce about the trip – we look at the over 800 photos we took, and agree the week we spend was not enough and the country deserves more exploration!
Sometimes travel is about much more than just ‘getting away’ – it can be inspiring and meaningful, and maybe open your eyes to a heritage you never knew you were so proud of having. Authentic Ireland is dedicated to making these experiences everything you expect and more with our hand-picked and fully customizable Ireland Vacations. We’ve helped hundreds of travelers discover the Ireland they were looking for, check out our Authentic Ireland Reviews to read some of their thoughts, critiques, and memoirs of their travels with us!