I loved Dublin, the historic sites we saw, the fish and chips we ate and the Guinness I drank, but my favorite part of the trip was the time with Carol and John on the Dingle Peninsula. They picked us up in Cork, and we spent three days with them overlooking the ocean. One day we took a small motorboat out to visit the largest of the Blasket Islands. They are at the westernmost point in Europe, no longer inhabited, and imagining the isolation that the residents must have felt during winter storms was awe-inspiring. I forget when the last residents moved to the mainland (maybe the 1940s?) but it was after the death of a youth on a night the doctor was not able to make the crossing.
We also had an amazing stay with an extremely talented, generous, mystic storyteller, Anne Farrell. She had never met us yet invited us into her home, swapped stories with my mother and other Irish storytelling friends, and introduced us to some of the nature spirits of Ireland--the hawthorne trees living in her garden. If you are ever searching for a Celtic storyteller, allow me to strongly recommend her.
This trip reawakened my passion for traveling and the awareness that all over the world, other lives are going on, cities bustling, other ways of being exist....I know it sounds obvious, but it shocks me every trip, and makes me muse about the choices many of us have. It also was the first time I had been away just as "me" since having children. I desperately missed my boys, but had a wonderful time. I met so many kind strangers... from the Lebanese Muslim I sat next to on the airplane, who asked me to tell him the time so he would know when to pray, to the taxi driver who told me that "All the Irish have a story to tell," to the Czech couple in in our Dublin B & B...everywhere. If you come across a lost-looking stranger, remember how much conversation and kindness is appreciated!