I can no longer remember how or when the idea for a vacation in Ireland came to me. I know it began as a desire to spend an extended time (3 months, even) in a different environment, possibly tied to writing my novel (fantasy fiction with a Celtic feel). I do remember creating a bucket list, and those few short sentences morphed into a vision board overflowing with photos of Ireland, modest homes surrounded by peaceful gardens, and a few pithy quotes to help me move past a difficult divorce.
The AirBnB dream died in the summer of 2017. Now, in the Spring of 2018, I am completing the edits of the final chapter of my first book. But what about Ireland?
Thanks to a neighbor’s unsightly back yard…
I reassembled my vision board to transform my view into something a bit more pleasing.
Originally I had planned to go to Ireland in March of 2018, but then procrastinated about buying a ticket until the time got away from me. Some family things arose, making it clear that March had not been the right time after all. Still, I had trouble pinning down a date. Almost all of the traveling I have done (8 states and 1 foreign country) has been related to a move (30 of them now and still counting). I have only ever planned a vacation once, and that turned out to be rather a disaster. Eventually I came to recognize my reticence to commit for what it was: fear. Even those closest to me began to question if I was ever going to actually go to Ireland.
I spent a lot of time in the beginning of this year reading blogs and talking to friends about their Ireland adventures. I was always hoping for some inspiration in regards to planning, but instead I just felt overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of things to do, see, and explore over there. How could I choose when and how and what to see? I briefly (for like 30 minutes) considered buying a group tour, but besides the prohibitive cost, the idea of traveling along someone else’s prescribed route left me feeling stifled. On the 10th of April, I awoke to the realization that if I did not schedule my trip soon, I never would. By lunchtime, I had settled on September, and by the time I purchased my round-trip ticket to Dublin, I had decided I would drive around the southern tip and up the western coast to Galway, then would cut back across to Dublin from there, leaving the northern half for another year.
It would be difficult, if not impossible (certainly useless), for me to describe the sick feeling I had in the pit of my stomach the moment I hit “pay” on the Aer Lingus website. For the next hour or so, I was convinced that I had made a very expensive mistake. After all, geography is my weakness! What if I did not have enough time to see what I wanted to see? What was I thinking, planning to drive a car (manual transmission, no less) on the opposite side of the road, around an unfamiliar island, utterly alone??!! To alleviate my fears, I dove into the first of two books I had ordered from Amazon: The Everything Travel Guide to Ireland. I would not have Lonely Planet Ireland in hand until early May.
The next morning, my very pregnant daughter and I were sitting in her OB’s office. I had brought along my travel guide, of course, and was reading a few paragraphs aloud while we waited. Finally, I paused and said, “Maybe I should blog about my trip. Some of my readers might have suggestions on what to see, and a good timeframe for traveling from place to place. I might get some great information in the comments!”
The statement had hardly left my lips, when a very pregnant stranger stepped around the corner and blurted out, “I promise I was not eavesdropping, but I think I can help you with your blog! I have been to Ireland – twice – and I have only ever seen the southern and western coasts! I know all about it!” This sweet lady then proceeded to overload me with information about what to see and other details. Before we left, she agreed to share her email address so that we could correspond more in future.
Suddenly I realized that the sick feeling in my gut was gone. The path before me had grown a little brighter. I knew with certainty that it would continue to do so as long as I followed my heart. Feelings of excitement and anticipation began to grow, taking the place of fear. I was reminded in a very clear way that I am never, ever alone. Turning an appreciative grin to my daughter, I said, “Everything is always working out for me!”
“So basically,” she retorted, “my appointment time was changed, we had to wait longer than ever to see the doctor, and I have high blood pressure for the first time in this pregnancy and my life, all so that you could rendezvous with a person to help you plan your trip to Ireland?!”
“Basically, yes,” I replied with a smile.
Ain’t the universe grand?
Now it’s your turn. Ever been to the southern coast of Ireland? I would greatly appreciate any tips and tricks you might have for me. Where to stay, how long in each location, what to see, what to eat, etc. Any advice is welcome. And, as always, thanks for reading!