The last time I was in Ireland was December 1999 at the end of my study abroad, around my 22nd birthday. I’ve written a lot (maybe too much) about my time in Ireland, but now I get to go back for the time in nineteen years!
Working at Automattic, we gather with our teammates on a trip or two each year. Being a distributed company, my particular team has members in Australia, New York, and South Africa. We’ve decided on London for meetup this year and I’ll extend my trip for a few days in Dublin.
I’ll fly into Dublin on a Wednesday night and sleep in a hotel near the airport. In the morning I’ll make my way into the city and do some exploring. Afterwards I’ll stay with a college friend and her husband about 40 minutes south of Dublin. We’ll spend Friday hiking and exploring Glendalough or other areas nearby.
Everywhere is a bit of a stretch, but it turns out I’ve been able to travel a lot in the last few years because of work. A friend I hadn’t seen for some time reminded me that when we first met my response to “hey, have you been to X place?” was inevitably “no.” And that wasn’t an exaggeration in my early twenties. Other than a few places in my home State of Maine, I’d been to New Hampshire, Boston, New Jersey, Florida, and Washington D.C.. Thankfully, that’s slowly been changing over the last few years.
Atlantic Canada (2002?): 2500 miles in a Ford Focus through…
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.