Why in the world would I want to go to Ireland? There are so many reasons why I can barely focus to write a coherent response.

Ireland has always been a place of great intrigue to me for as long as I can remember. I was born with red hair. No one else in my classes in elementary school had red hair. I felt like a pariah. I didn't fit in at school, and even though my father had red hair as well, I didn't fit in there either.

For most of the people in my small class, matters of heritage were pretty clear. The town I grew up in was settled by the Dutch and most people had Dutch surnames. I had no idea where my family came from. When I would ask, it was never clear if no one really knew, or it was something they didn't want to discuss, but I never got any answers. Not knowing made me even more curious.

In eighth grade, I went to an international fair as part of a history class. While walking through the booths, the man at the Ireland booth called me over. He asked if I knew my heritage. I told him that I did not. He asked me my last name, which was Lawrence. He looked up the name in a book of surnames he had on the table and told me that my name used to be MacLaren and showed me the region of Ireland from which he speculated my family was from. I don't think he was correct in his guess, but I was more hooked and intrigued by my heritage and a longing to go to Ireland.

In college, I traveled to Russia as part of a three week summer exchange program. We had a layover in Shannon for about an hour, there and back. For the first time ever, I felt like I belonged somewhere. I looked like everyone around me. Red haired people were everywhere!

I seriously considered breaking away from my small group and settling in this amazing place. I was not brave enough or crafty enough to even have a clue how to do that, so I went on my trip to Russia, then returned to my life in Illinois.

I never gave up my longing to go to Ireland and even though I haven't made it back yet, I still dream about it. I discovered the music of The Chieftains at some point, and they just make my spirit soar. I even wrote about the experience of seeing them on stage on my own blog! Here's the link in case you're interested. http://www.learninghope.org/2014/03/10/soaring-soul/

As I stated, genealogy is also a great interest of mine. I recently found that I do have Irish roots! Even if it isn't as the man at the international fair described, I have at least one link to Ireland. The family name is McCurley, or McCarley. The family arrived in the United States, coming from Ulster, and settled in South Carolina, later moving to Tennessee. My direct relative, George Washington McCurley, caused quite a scandal. After his wife died, he and her cousin lived together. Just the fact that they lived together was bad enough, but her husband was more than upset by the whole thing! It was such a scandal that he and his family moved to Denton, Texas. George's brother Jonas also moved to Texas with them, and after a time there, he became a Union spy. There may be a little malarkey in there, but so the story goes!

Someday, some way, I will make it back to Ireland, to soak in the sun, the history and all the amazing things. I expect to see great things in simple places.  

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!

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Tags: Genealogy, Heritage, History, Travel


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