So Long And Thanks For All The Sheep: My Irish Farewell

My brother told me a little anecdote when he was visiting me here in Ireland a few weeks back, and it goes a little something like this: a man says to a philosopher, “What’s a phrase that will make me sad when I’m happy and happy when I’m sad?”. After some thought, the philosopher responded, “This too shall pass”.

Every thing we are doing and seeing and feeling will be a memory, and eventually even our memories will no longer be. The 4 letter phrase gives me courage in times of challenge, and it keeps me grounded in times of bliss and happiness.

Our journey to experience Ireland with the intention of living here has come to a close. It’s been one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had, each day completely different than the previous, sometimes heavy with change and uncertainty, and other times full of lightness and the feeling of optimism. What’s even more strange is that once we made the decision to move on, it was so incredibly easy to let go of the idea. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say, and I think we both could have predicted that what we wanted a few years ago had a high likelihood of being different than what we want now.

Ireland is a beautiful country, quickly changing and developing, and full of gorgeous sites to see and things to do. It’s full of open spaces and breathtaking landscapes, tons of interesting history and mythology, Gothic architecture and narrow streets..I could go on. For the tourist and traveler, Ireland does not disappoint, so long as you know ahead of time the weather situation (read: we had a good stretch of teasingly lovely weather, but overall you don’t come for the weather. Rainy. Cold. Overcast. Grey. Summer?!). However, sometimes a place just does not speak to you, and you realize that if this were a different time or if you were a different person, made up of different ideas of what you need to feel welcome and at home, then you’d be more motivated to do all it takes to make something happen. To plant roots. I mean let’s be honest, I’ve only worked hard under 2 conditions: the first  being when someone tells me it can’t be done, and the second being when I really, really want something. The first I’ve nearly outgrown with the exception of certain situations, so that leaves me with the understanding that neither of us really, really wanted to call Ireland home after 2 months of experiencing it. And that’s ok. Infact, I feel great about it, because it’s one huge thing that we can agree to have no regrets about.

The great thing about this experience is that we did it. We came here. One day down the road, we will never have the feelings of regret or resentment and the horrible “what ifs” in regards to this. All in all, it is a small part of our story together, and we are stronger and more aligned because of it. We’ve learned an incredible amount, and the most important would probably be that our timeline belongs to no one else but us.

Tomorrow I leave Ireland, but I know it will be some time before this experience leaves my brain. It is stitched into my thought process, into how I look at the world and my place in it, and how much more I will appreciate my future home and the community that I will plant myself in.

So, this will also be my last post about Ireland.Not really that crazy considering I only wrote 2 others. After looking through our pictures and videos, it is clear that we got more out of being here once we decided to be tourists. Rugged coasts, long summer days, narrow roads that beg you to explore, etc etc.. it’s all here. Without too much explanation, I will share with you in photos all that our highlights included, and at the end, I’d like to say a few things that are especially needing to be said.

List of Things We Did And Maybe You Should Too, If You Want.

1) If Your Grandmother Came From Ireland, Visit Where She Grew Up

DSC02543 (1)
Pat in the doorway of his grandmother’s former cottage in Tourmakeady in Co Mayo

2) Climb Croagh Patrick, At Least.. Until The Weather Makes You Stop. It’s Beautiful, and Strenuous. And Sheep.

 

3) When in Salt Hill, Jump Into The Cold Atlantic From the Black Rock Platform, If You Can Stand It (Which I Couldn’t- My Jumping Days Are Over)

4) If Your Family Visits, Take Them To Inis Oirr, The Smallest Of The Aran Islands. It will be the most beautiful place you can imagine, even if it completely pours rain more than half the time. This Was My Favorite Place. Dolphins. Caribbean-Looking Water. Cows. Stone Walls. Old Fortress. Irish Speaking. Lighthouses. Trad Music.Tea Houses. Quaint Pubs.  OldFashioned B&B.Horse Drawn Carriages. Everything. K, I’m done talking.

Also Take Them to Galway, Where You Spent 6 Weeks:


End This Great Weekend by Taking Them To Coyotes, the Only Bar Open Late. It Happens To Be An American Themed Bar, And You All Are So Unashamedly Excited To Dance To “Shout” at A Time Other Than A Wedding:

5) If You Find Yourself in Donegal, Go To Slieve League, The Tallest Sea Cliffs In Europe, and Get Yourself A Cheap Ice Cream Cone After The Hike:

 

Also in Donegal are These Beautiful Beaches.. Donegal is really beautiful. If you happen to have a friend named Kevin taking you around his hometown area too, first that’s quite a coincidence, but anyway, be sure to give lots of thanks for one of the best weekends in Ireland.

6) When In Sligo, Grab Some Bikes and Enjoy the Countryside. Cows Are Friendly. Be Creeped Out and Amazed At The Number of Abandoned Cottages and Roses, and Don’t Forget Your Bananas.

Climb Knocknarea and Enjoy the View from Queen Maev’s Tomb.

Visit the Abby in Sligo Town. It Will Not Disappoint.


7.) Rent a car. Seriously. Do it. And book online- we learned the hard way $$$$$. We did it and we went to Connemara National Park, hiked Diamond Hill, stopped in little towns and went down narrow roads along the coast.. and it was amazing:


This Concludes the Highlights of Our Tourist Jaunt Through Ireland. As Promised, I have a few parting words. It’s Time to Cut The Obnoxious Bold Text and Get Serious Again:

I  want to say that tomorrow is my wedding anniversary. So much of this time, as well as the last 13 months, have been defined by inconsistencies. The only constant I had was change, and there were many times I felt like I did not have the upper hand in anything. This happens when you are living under someone else’s roof and have a tight budget. There is a fine line between being a traveler and being transient. There were times when we both understood that we were one emergency away from being screwed.

What I do know is that despite all of this, I had you next to me for every situation, and we’ve had a ridiculously good time, when you think about it. Just think about it. I woke up warm every day. I had your songs to listen to, and your silence to compliment my own. I had your eye contact and your full attention when I needed it, and space for my own solitude when that was needed, too. I was taken seriously and valued by 1 person this entire time, without question. I am still moved by you and still humbled by your acceptance of me and your unwavering loyalty and patience (Your patience is truly incredible).After 8 years of knowing you, I am still learning about you.

Last month marked 1 full year since we started on this journey and it’s been a wild, wild ride, but I can say with a gracious heart that I never felt alone. It’s been incredible overall. I know that this time will pass, and so I cherish it for what it is: absolute freedom with my best friend. One day we may have hard years, and life will bring us challenges, and we may see each other in a different light. One day we my find each other alone. I know that what we have shared in the years we have been together, and especially in these last 13 months is so small in the course of what will be, and I do not take lightly the time you’ve invested spending with me. I know we’ve had to make decisions everyday, but you have been the easiest for me, all the time.

I know that what we’ve had in this last year is rare, and it cannot last forever. I know that we will understand its lessons more as time goes on.

In the future we will have an address, we will have a routine. But these are just things, like the car I’ll drive and the clothes you’ll wear to work. What I’ve learned is this: Home really is wherever I’m with you.

Right now, we count our blessings like this: in bus tickets, photos, and inside jokes. In pocket change from singing on the street, midge bites and nettle burns. In a decent shower, and cheap wine. In sheep imitations that made us laugh so hard, and the hard times that made the good times better. In minutes, in hours, and in weeks that we’ve had that we will never have again..and the feeling I have when I think about everything we’ve seen and everywhere we’ve been. Thank you for this adventure.

Happy Anniversary.

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