A land of curious legends, castle ruins, and cordial people was my destination in the summer of 2010. I have loved Ireland since I was small, thanks to my Irish mother and all of her side of the family. Every year we visit her hometown of Limerick, on the Southwest coast of the Emerald Isle, but last year was a little different from the usual hang-with-family, shop-your-wallet-out vacation we had previously taken. My Granny and Granddad Kelly decided to take a day to give us kids a tour of a few sites that are special to them. Of course, I never say no to romping around the green countryside in my favorite pair of wellies
â–º honorable mention 2011 Teen Travel Writing Scholarship
Granddad drove us further West through the narrow, winding Irish country roads to Knockpatrick (near Shannagolden) where we took a rather strenuous climb up a muddy hill to get to the ruins of the Knockpatrick church and graveyard. In the graveyard my Granddad’s un-christened infant brother had been buried in an unmarked grave, laid to rest in the middle of the night without the knowledge of the priest. The graves were in all states of disrepair, and the church ruins were covered in ivy and moss. Because the graveyard was on a hill, we were able to see the three different counties, the nearby inlet of water, and miles and miles of green. It goes without saying that the view was positively stunning!
It was Granny’s turn next—she took us South to her childhood home in Mountcollins, a.k.a. “Granny White’s house”. It was a tiny house on the side of a country road and the garden had become overrun with weeds and wildflowers. As the door was locked tight, we had to battle our way through unruly hedges around the side of the house and break in through the back door J. The inside of the house was amazing. One of the first things you saw was the chimney that had fallen through because of the decades of bird-nest buildup, but although everything was rundown, the house looked like someone had just popped out for a few minutes expecting to return soon. There were still beds made, newspapers on the coffee table, pans on the stovetop. My sister and I found a rusty “Quality Street” tin and put our favorite items inside, like a dinky bottle, deformed fork, and dusty mug. A couple of pillows lounging on a wingback chair didn’t go unnoticed, either. I especially loved going to Granny White’s house because I felt a great connection to her after seeing what it would have been like for her there when she was alive.
After collecting some mementos we headed to a nearby pub and beach for dinner. Nothing quite finishes off an excellent day like a hearty portion of Irish chips! After filling ourselves up to the brim, we drove a few miles West to Ballybunnion beach to admire the unique scenery—there were a few very epic natural arches and rock formations there, and I have always loved listening to the crash of the ocean waves on the beachfront.
Though this was only one day in the course of my vacation, it certainly had the most impact on me. I grew to appreciate a lot more how my ancestors lived in the Irish countryside, and learned about my own family history that I am proud to claim. With the addition of some delicious country air and a quick trip to the beach, it made for a perfect experience in a land I hold dear to my heart.
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