My time in Tulsk lasted only a few days, but it provided a few home-cooked meals and a roof over my head. Staying here also gave me the chance to save money I’d need to continue the trip to school in Ballyvaughan. The farm was so far removed from the village center that there was no possibility of spending a few pounds here and there on food, drink, or activities. Like my time in Dublin, I mostly kept to myself while on the farm, taking pictures and reading my travel guide. Over the course of just a few days I had two very different Irish experiences – the bustling city life of Dublin and the isolation of a Roscommon farm.
To help brainstorm titles for the Ireland pieces I’ve been writing, here’s a list of all the films and TV shows set or connected to the Republic or Northern Ireland that I’ve seen. Is there something Irish that I need to see and don’t have listed? Maybe I’ve seen and forgotten, but either way, let me know!
I boarded the bus in Dublin and set off for the tiny village of Tulsk in County Roscommon. I’d be staying at Conor’s mother home before moving on to the West. The 100-mile journey provided my first glimpse of the Irish countryside. After a couple of hours, the driver announced our arrival. Exiting the bus I was greeted by… nothing really. The stop was a dirt lot in front of a private residence.
For my first full day in Dublin, my priority was sorting out money for the four-month stay. Based on a recommendation, I’d brought a cashier’s check that I’d use to open an account. I’d supplement the rest with ATM withdrawals and purchases from a debit card.
I stopped for a bit in the bus station before starting my search for a place to stay. A man clad in nothing but denim, with a shaved head, and spiderweb tattoo on his face stared angrily at me. I was 21, had never been away from New England on my own, knew nobody in Dublin, and was getting the evil eye from a stranger who knew I wasn’t from around these parts. I decided to move on.
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.