Ireland: leaving home, coming home

A part of me realizes that writing about the end of our Ireland trip means that it’s over, so I’ve dragged my feet sitting down and putting thoughts into words.  But I’m fifty now, a grown up.  Time to get serious.  Time to get back to our lives.  (What’s that?  You got serious at thirty?  Good for you.)

Last we spoke, it was in Galway.  On first blush, Galway had more charm than Dublin, most likely because of its smaller size and location right on the bay.  Also, we were slightly lost on the way to our B&B, so were able to take in the residential neighborhoods around the city centre and I could imagine myself baking soda bread, making coffee, and working by the fire, writing the next Ulysses, or more realistically, the next Fifty Shades of Something, waiting for the girls to come home from school and the husband from work.  It was rainy and cold and perfect.  Inside our bed and breakfast on the water, it was also cold, which was not perfect but you can’t have everything, can you?

Before we left for Dublin Tuesday morning and our flight home, I went for a run early, hoping to finally have a moment to contemplate the birthday I’ve been celebrating all month and the future ahead.  First, it was freezing, which is not ideal for deep thought, even if I was watching the sun come up dramatically over Galway Bay.  Second, I forgot that contemplative consideration is all well and good for most but not me.  Lost in my head, I stagnate.  Put into action, I thrive.  So I hustled back to the Seaside Inn, enjoyed the Irish breakfast Mary prepared for us (we Americans don’t know bacon), and helped the husband pack up the minivan for our journey to the airport.  On the way, we took a complicated detour to Mullingar in Westmeath, home of Niall Horan, so the girls could see where the One Direction singer was from.  It was a drive-by but no less charming than any other town we went through, perhaps even more so.  Though Erin had developed a stomach thing and vomited several times during the night, she rallied for a picture next to the town’s signage and was happy to check it off her list.  “That’s what makes you beautiful…”


Arriving in New York to change planes, we made a beeline for Wolfgang Puck’s Café where we gobbled up fruit cups and Caesar salads.  Though our meals the past week had been flavorful, too much Irish cheddar and soda bread left us desperate for roughage and leafy greens.  I couldn’t wait to get my hands on some broccoli back home…

…which is where I am right now.  Sadly, the lilt I had in Ireland is already gone.  No longer do my statements sound like questions.  I want to say ‘grand’ and ‘lovely’ but I’m afraid of the reactions I’d receive.  What’s nice, however, is that the weather here in Los Angeles since waking Wednesday morning has been Irish: cloudy, wet, romantic.

I stopped into the hardware store yesterday to pick up a piece of alder trim I ordered for the bookshelf my brother-in-law built for our den.  The gentleman I’d been dealing with casually asked me how the project was going and the next thing I knew, we were talking about our children, sobriety, parenting, woodwork, and the meaning of life.  I told him I’d stop by with a photo of the finished product and he thanked me before getting back to some customers patiently waiting at the counter.  When I got back into the swagger wagon, I smiled about the connections we sometimes make and how Brene Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, thinks it’s all we’re ever after.  And then I understood about Ireland and the spell it seems to have cast over me.  The green fields, the rocky coastlines, the smell of peat bricks burning in woodstoves, the rain, the mist, the kindness in the lilt, the rosy cheeks and bad teeth of the Irish.  I felt connected to it all.

“When I come out on the road of a morning, when I have had a night’s sleep and perhaps a breakfast, and the sun lights a hill on the distance, a hill I know I shall walk across an hour or two thence, and it is green and silken to my eye, and the clouds have begun their slow, fat rolling journey across the sky, no land in the world can inspire such love in a common man.”  — Frank Delaney, Ireland


“He saw the black water and the declining sun and the swan dipping down, its white wings flashing, and slowing and slowing till silver ripples carried it home. It was a scene which seemed the heart of this land. The lowing sun and the one star waking, white wings on a black water, and the smell of rain, and the long lane fading where a voice comes in the falling night.
–Ireland, said Scrotes.
–Yes, this is Ireland.”  – Jamie O’Neill, At Swim, Two Boys


Ireland, indeed.  I’m going back someday.

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  1. Janet says

    Dearest JoAnn,

    Please, PLEASE say “grand” and”lovely” with your best Irish lilt to me when next we meet! You will have the most genuine grateful reaction you could ever hope for!

    Sincerely yours, Janet

  2. says


    Thank you so much for transporting me back for a few days. I’ve been too long away, but your beautiful photographs and descriptions flowing as gently as the Liffey brought the sights, sounds, even the smells back. ‘Twas a pleasure, indeed.

    This trip was a grand thing to do for your family, and a wonderful way to celebrate an important birthday!


  3. Mary Anne says

    Tis lovely to have you home and thank you for sharing your visit. I was jealous yet so happy for you. All the “grand” talk made me think of my grandmother who, whenever she was asked how she was would reply “grand altogether”. When I was very little I would think, I know who Grandma is, but who is Grand Altogether? Can’t wait to hear all the details, and belated happy birthday.

  4. Jeannie says

    If we all start using the word ‘grand’ together- maybe we can make it stick!

    Lets add in a few more charming words to our American vernacular while we are at it- American English could use a lift!

    So happy Ireland was amazing for all of you!

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