Ireland: the moment you arrive, you feel at home. Perhaps as an American that’s at least partly due to its familiarity. Like many Americans, some of my ancestors moved to America from there.
Yet ancestry is not one of the reasons I have been drawn to it. Frankly back in my teens it had never been somewhere that I had dreamed of visiting. In fact, quite the opposite.
I was never close with the Irish immigrants and their U.S.-born kids who were all on my dad’s side of the family. Indeed, Dad was mostly not fond of them (to be polite). That probably even negatively impacted my outlook about the country while growing up.
However, I suppose after seeing it in person the first time I came to appreciate it solely for what it is, uncolored by family prejudices wildly pro or nastily con.
That visit was in long ago 1998. I recall doing a “pub crawl” my first evening with my future wife and her long-time Irish girlfriend, who lived near Dublin city center with her husband.
I also remember by 11pm or so, the three of us sitting in a McDonalds.
And I also still recall the, uh, Mcbuilding seemed to be spinning. 😉
I’ve lost track by now of how many times I’ve been to the country since then. I’ve always suspected that girlfriend that night was perhaps having a bit of fun “hazing” me – the American who was going to be marrying her English friend. Much more recently, she also had some fun at the expense of my first book:
“….Isabelle. Isabellllllllle. Oui, Isabellllllllle.” [She raises her eyebrows, and grins knowingly at my wife.]
We know her and her family so well now that they are practically family. (In 2014, we had a holiday in Florida with her, her husband and their two young children, both of whom were born since 1998.)
I’ve been to other parts of Ireland as well. But within Dublin there are seemingly endless places to visit. We’d been here several times before, yet it’s always “different” every time you walk through the gate: the National Botanic Gardens:
All of us now a more sensible “middle age,” those Irish friends now live outside the city to the northeast, in the town of Rush:
Dublin Airport has grown exponentially since 1998. Then it had struck me as almost “sleepy” and roughly comparable to Long Island, NY’s Islip/MacArthur Airport. But now Dublin has two massive terminals and is as busy as any mid-sized national capital’s airport.
Oh, and in all the times I’ve been on planes in my life, I’d never once taken a photo looking out a window. This time, as we flew back home to England’s Luton Airport yesterday morning from Dublin, I finally snapped one with my iPad:
I had been passing time on the short flight (about 50 minutes) proofreading some of Conventions when the photo idea hit me. I had also thought this: What an amazing world we do live in now. I was sitting at 30,000 feet reading 18th century characters who couldn’t have even imagined doing what we do today so routinely.
Have a good day, wherever you are in the world. 🙂