December 18, 2017

My Lasting Memories of Ireland

KNP for blog

People travel for many different reasons. Some travel for the scenery, some simply for relaxation or exploration. Others are in search of family history or the history of a particular destination. Still others go just to say they went. For me, travel is usually about the scenery and exploring new places. Sometimes though, the reasons we decide to travel become secondary to our experiences while travelling. Join me for part 2 of my 2-part series as we explore the emotional impact that travel can have on us.

My most recent trip with Collette, in 2016, was a guided tour of Ireland...the “homeland”. Even though my ancestry traces back in several different directions, I consider myself primarily of Irish descent, since it is part of both of my parents’ lineage. In part 1 of this two-part series, I had mentioned that Ireland was a dream destination for many in my family. The Irish is strong on my father’s side in particular, and my parents were able to visit some time ago, but to my knowledge, most of the rest of the family has not had the chance. We all speak fondly of our Irish heritage, so I felt very fortunate to have had the chance to visit such an amazing place. The scenery, the history, the culture and “craic”...it was everything I thought it would be and more!

The twist here is that we as a family were rocked by another sudden and unexpected tragedy shortly before my trip. My cousin (her father and mine were brothers) had passed away about a month and a half earlier. She, like many in our family, was intensely proud of her Irish ancestry, and had also always dreamed of visiting the Emerald isle. On the surface, this may just seem like another sad situation, and of course, a loss like this does carry its fair share of heartache. But for me, this trip ended up being a very moving, serene and surprisingly soothing experience.

Although we sometimes went extended stretches without much contact, my cousin and I definitely had some shared interests and always related well with each other. Because of that, I almost felt like I was there to “represent” her and bring her desire to go to Ireland with me when I went.

I saw rolling hills and sprawling flatlands; city lights and winding country roads; the patchwork greenery of expansive farmland; and sheep...lots and lots of sheep. Throughout the tour, I tried to see the country through her eyes, and feel her excitement of getting to immerse herself in such a remarkable place. Of course, I’ll never know if I actually succeeded in that. But I honestly felt like she was with me for the entirety of the trip. And who knows, maybe she was seeing Ireland through my eyes rather than the other way around.

So what is the purpose of me sharing these rather personal stories? Travel has always been about visiting and seeing new places, but to me, these two trips were more than that. Sure, the new experiences were there, but it was also about the lasting impact. Travel can touch us in ways we could never anticipate. My hope would be that you go out and explore new places, see new things, meet new people and breathe in the wonder of the world. Soak up the unexpected treasure that can sneak up on you wherever you go. Savour the flavour of surprise and feel the connection to each new land. Go where you’ve always wanted to go, and go with an open mind and an open heart.

There’s a reason you felt compelled to go there. Enjoy it and appreciate it, and you’ll keep those memories with you for the rest of your days.

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