I was far from worldly as a child, or even into early adulthood for that matter. I’d spent most of my early life within New England (a few day stints in Washington D.C., Florida, and New Jersey aside). It had been a goal from a very young age to visit Ireland, the birthplace of my paternal ancestors. I’d always felt a connection to it – not only because of my Irish last name, but it felt mysterious to me. I grew up surrounded by my mother’s Italian family, hearing stories from my grandmother about her parents and other relatives from “the old country.” I was not as fortunate with the Irish side – my father had passed when I was 12 and neither of his parents made it past the mid 1940s or ’50s.
I found an opportunity to explore Ireland in the form of a poster hanging on the wall of my college’s student center. Happy looking students explored the countryside underneath the words “Burren College of Art.” I applied, was accepted, and a few short months later, departed from Boston for a four-month study abroad program in County Clare on the West coast.
I’d built in time before I needed to report for classes and chose to land in Dublin, rather than the much closer Shannon airport. I planned to make the most of the 150 mile cross country trip with stops along the way.
On the flight I spilled most of a glass of complimentary red wine onto my passport and travel guide. Although minor, it was the first in a series of bad luck events during the trip.
Landing in Dublin, I realized almost immediately that I’d bitten off more than I could chew. My research was light and the entire trip was fueled by my obsession to get there. Once on the ground, I learned that the airport was a 30-minute bus ride away. Why didn’t I know that most airports are well outside of the city center? Oh, right – I’d flown twice before.
I was so disoriented and exhausted from the trip, I decided to call an automated number back home to find out the time and add 5 hours. Hey, that only cost a few pounds!
I’d barely slept on the flight, so after figuring out the bus situation, my next priority was lodging. Other than meeting up with a family friend in Roscommon, I’d made no prior arrangements at any of my stops.
Movie referenced: In the Name of the Father