My childhood was blessed with but one grandparent, my County Donegal, Ireland born grandmother. Fondly I remember "Gamma's" pancakes sprinkled with sugar and warm milk, her boiled apple dumplings and fried doughboys, along with supervised bedside prayers each evening...bodily sustenance and soul food. Most precious of all, though, were tales of her homeland, last seen as a young woman, which always ended with, "When my ship comes in, Patsy, you and I will go to Ireland". The seed was sown.
Unfortunately, shortly before my teenage years arrived, my precious "Gamma" died, leaving just an aged piece of very dry, tissue-wrapped peat along with a worn gold wedding band, which later blessed my marriage. Also inherited was a strong desire to someday visit the land of my grandmother's birth. However the responsibilities of marriage and children postponed that dream. For years I had to be content with reading about The Ould Sod and gazing at the map of Ireland that I've always kept tacked inside a kitchen cupboard.
Eventually my dream became a reality with Aer Lingus my magic carpet. Excitement and anticipation held sleep at bay. Day's dawning finally brought that green, green shoreline into view, and I felt the presence of my beloved grandmother. "Gamma" was definitely with me.
The "forty shades of green"...the stone walls and the variety of those stone walls...the people...the ever-changing landscape...the gorse...the lanes lined with fuchsia...the people...the boreens, often canopied with blooming rhododendron...the music...the people...the very sound of the country. All thrilled, stimulated and welcomed me. More importantly they also nourished and comforted me. I belonged...
Unfortunately too many years have passed since that unforgettable, initial visit to the land of my dreams. I want to hear again the bodhran, penny whistle and fiddle playing traditional melodies. I long to experience Co Kerry, the jewel of my memories; to search for unique wildflowers among the stones of the Burren; to be awed by the dramatic Cliffs of Moher; to look across Galway Bay to the Aran Islands; to meander along the coasts of Counties Mayo and Sligo, witnessing close-up, the ocean's power and beauty before heading north into County Donegal, from whence came my grandmother. Yes, I need to return...one last time.
Alas, I am at an age and stage of life where getting to Ireland has returned to 'just-a-dream' because, for me, time is running out. So I pin my hope on winning one of the ingenious Wild West Irish Tours which show visitors the true wonder, beauty, history and traditions of Ireland. Go raibh maith agat!
Tell us why YOU want to experience the ‘Wild West’ of Ireland, and you might win a free 9-day trip there, courtesy of Wild West Irish Tours and WOW Air. Get the details!