All my life I watched my older sister go around the world. I was always jealous by the fact that I had not been anywhere that was not a state touching Tennessee. Year after year I was at home in Chattanooga with ambitions to see everything from Andora to Tokyo. All of my family was born somewhere else which made me feel like and outsider. I did not learn to appreciate my home town until my 11th year high school where I did a study on the history of ‘chattavegas’ and realized that it did offer something special. We were a strong influence in the history of the American Civil War. I knew this but I learned to appreciate the value in the fact and I was able to feel closer.
It was in that same year that an opportunity presented itself for me to finally get my chance to go somewhere away from home. Amazingly enough it was out of the country, Ireland! On my fall break, seventeen years old, I was going to the Green Isle. I felt so enthralled in the idea, especially since I am of Irish heritage. My guidance counselor had mentioned the trip to me in sophomore year so I saved all summer; working six days a week sometimes. When the time came I was still short so I had to get my father to loan me some money that I would pay him back for later.
I had never actually seen a passport in real life but the next thing I knew I was at the post office getting my picture taken by that awkward, huge box they call a camera. I couldn’t wait for the day. My friend Sara, who was going on the trip with me, my mom, and my boyfriend Dylan all piled into my mom’s small PT cruiser and drove down to Atlanta to see me off on the plane to New Jersey where I would get a connecting flight to my final destination. I was so excited. But I realized in the car that I had left my camera at home! I was devastated. But it was almost a blessing in disguise because it allowed me to be in the moment and see Ireland through my own eyes and not the lens of my camera.
When people ask me about the trip I can never express how beautiful and astonishing everything was. We took a bus from Shannon to Dublin, and what a contrast the two cities shared. Shannon started our trip with a look at Ireland‘s history. There were so many farms and it seemed like not much had changed from hundreds of years ago except for a highway system which was only a few years old and still being constructed. It may be a clichÃ© but driving on the left side of the road was a thrill. Dublin however was a big city, bigger than I had ever seen, and full of life. We visited as many shops as we could and even visited a local pub with live music.
We were there for a short week and I wish it had been so much longer. We saw the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, Blarney Castle, the Rock of Cashel, and so many astounding landmarks and towns. The days I spent there were some of the most pleasure filled moments of my young life. I wish I could go back and stay just a little longer. The tour guide service called our trip ‘a taste of Ireland’ and it certainly left you wanting more.
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