People no longer ask me if I am returning to Ireland, but when. The number of raised eyebrows regarding the frequency of my visits has also slowed. In reality, I am not any different than most people in that if you find something that you really, really love, you figure out how to make it happen. For some, it is a closet full of shoes, for others … that new car. For me, it’s Ireland.
It helps that I am not a natural-born shopper. I find myself staying in more than going out. When I reach for a purchase, I no longer think in terms of want versus need, but how much of a day’s car rental or B&B stay it will cover. I have learned to travel on a budget, yet, have never felt cheated. It can be done and every six-to-eight months, I find myself back in Ireland … happy!
In all honesty, I still struggle to articulate the answer to – Why Ireland? Part of the reason that I return is that I am searching for that answer. When I do, you will be the first to know. In the meantime, if you need a better answer, I have created a list of my current 50 top excuses, I mean, reasons why I return to Ireland. Enjoy!
- There are 32 counties that need to be explored; I have been to (or through) 26 … but it also doesn’t mean that they have been thoroughly explored.
- Stand in a building that is more than a thousand years old and you find you want to do it again and again. There is something about their tenacity as they have faced weather and wars over centuries and survived … well mostly.
- I have a list of 637 castle/castle ruins; I have only been to 36. It’s a ‘math’ thing.
- I have been to even more abbeys/monasteries/priories, but they number in 3,000-3,500 (plus). Need I say more?
- I return home to a newsfeed of images of that must-see-site-that-was-just-down-the-road-and-around-the-corner-that-I-missed and I find myself thinking … next time.
- There are twelve months and I have only wandered around in four (June, September, December and January.) It isn’t helping that I am repeating some months.
- There are four seasons … okay, I almost have this one covered, since I have been there in winter, autumn and summer. But then, there is late autumn, early summer, etc.
- I still want to experience the Spring Equinox ‘in country’ since I have been present for the Fall Equinox, Summer Solstice and Winter Solstice. It’s a Celtic thing.
- There are mountain ranges I have yet to explore.
- I am told that I am missing out by not spending more time on Ireland’s shores. I have started adding them to the list.
- I am treated as a responsible adult. I can actually be trusted to climb the original stairs in a 15th century castle with only a rope to serve as a handhold.
- I have been told that I need to experience more sunrises and sunsets … when available.
The Places … and I anticipate you want to desperately add to this list if you have been to Ireland.
- Cashel, County Tipperary … it will always be my Irish home town and one must always return home.
- Cahir, County Tipperary … it is still my favorite place (to date.)
- Lahinch, County Clare; it was quite unexpected.
- Malihide, County Dublin … I love its harbour.
- Kilkenny, County Kilkenny and its art ‘vibe’.
- Glendalough, County Wicklow. I have been known to spend an entire day there and then return.
- Fethard, County Tipperary … the intact medieval wall.
- Cobh, County Cork … St. Coleman’s Cathedral is worth the trip.
- Clara Vale, County Wicklow and the rose cottage.
- Knockmealdown Mountains, County Waterford in June.
- Newgrange, County Meath … one day I will win the Winter Solstice lottery.
Food & Drink
- Bulmers, specifically the fruit and rhubarb/apple/spice varieties I cannot find locally.
- Mature Irish Cheddar Cheese and Spring Onion crisps by Tayto.
- Bangers and Mash.
- Rhubarb yogurt, scones, muffins, tarts, etc.
- Custard (and preferably poured over the scones, tarts, etc.)
- Petrol station Americano’s … It is where you can find the best coffee.
Bits & Bobs
- I was born to drive on the left side of the road! (Note: It freaks people out when I accidentally do this at home.)
- The sheep; they are quite photogenic. But, then, so are the cattle, the horses, the swans, etc.
- I am still hoping to see a fairy when standing in a fairy fort. If a leprechaun wants to stop by, too, that would be brilliant.
- I never tire of the Irish accent, although sometimes I have to really focus to understand … my apologies in advance.
- Decorated doors and windows.
- The flora growing on stone. It is an obsession of mine.
- The benches … another obsession.
- Stone bridges … okay, I have more than two obsessions.
- The high crosses … add another to the obsession list.
- Heather and gorse.
- I am still trying to find Irish Linen on the bolt.
- Images that I have missed or want to retake.
- The music.
The People … You know who you are!
- The artists.
- The photographers.
- The archeologists.
- The B&B owners that let me move in for a couple weeks (or more).
- The strangers that are kind and helpful.
- The friends that have joined in on the journey.
- The connections that I have yet to make.
And Above All …. The Unexpected experiences!