It calls to me. The homeland of my great-grandfather. He left Ireland during the great exodus, of those forced by tyrants, to leave all that was familiar to them and all they loved, to try to start over in a new home laden with promise. Once he arrived, how many times did he dream of standing above the cliffs near Ballybunion overlooking the rough waves of the blue-grey Atlantic and wish to see those dear to him again. Now, over 100 years later, his great-granddaughter, someone whose name he never knew but in whose heart beats to the same Celtic rhythm, wonders what his life was like before setting down roots in a place his prodigy would call home. I have been to Ballybunion and have been fortunate to find kin who have a love of the land my great grandfather once called home. The house where I imagine, he said his final goodbyes to those he loved, still stands. I’ve wandered on the paths where he may have once trod. I have gazed out at the blue-grey Atlantic, trying with all my might to conjure up the feelings he had the last time he peered into the mist to sear the sound, the smell, and the vista before him into his brain so he might not lose the memory.
Although progress and ingenuity have changed the thatched roofed cottages with smoky peat fireplaces into modern homes with state of the art appliances, the stone covered land has remained the same. What is it about this wild windswept place that draws me to it? Do the rocky cliffs dropping down to the restless water have centuries old story to tell? Do the swallows dropping down from the twilight sky to nest in the cliffs sing the same song heard those many years ago? Do the great waves baptizing the silent sandy shore have a secret to share? Do the faces that share my DNA have the clues? If I heed its call, will I be satisfied with the answers or will I be left with more questions?
My last visit, about 5 years ago, was a time of discovery and introductions. It was a whirlwind of sights and sounds. My urgent desire for my adult son to find his roots was overpowering. The saying, “If not now, when?” drummed in my head. I wanted him to see the faces, the land and the sea as a giant jigsaw puzzle and rejoice as the pieces came together with the picture revealed of who he is. I was overjoyed to have been able to guide him on his way.
At 61 years old, most folks are content with their past, present, and future. I feel a yearning to learn more, see more and experience more about who I am and how I arrived at this time and this place in history. Who and what events brought me here? I’m hoping the answer is waiting to be discovered across the sea.
Many of us yearn to discover the rich heritage of our family’s past, and there’s no better way to go about it than to visit the land where our ancestors once roamed on a Trip to Ireland. You may just begin to hear the Celtic rhythm in your heart become louder as you explore ancient Ireland Castles.