As a competitive Irish Dancer for 9 years, I had always dreamed of taking a trip to tour the country of Ireland. I felt that it would help me understand where the roots of my dancing came from, as well as a way to experience a different culture first hand. Therefore, when I was told that my grandparents were funding a trip for my family and I to take a ten day tour of Southern Ireland, I was thrilled. Hundreds of emotions flooded me after hearing this news but I had only one real question, “Will I have a chance to Irish dance in Ireland?” Ever since I began dancing at age 7 I had the dream to dance in Ireland with Irish natives. Before leaving for our trip, I made sure to pack both pairs of my dance shoes, on the off chance that I would be able to make my dream come true.
Upon arriving in Shannon, Ireland, our tour guide for the week invited all of the guests to meet in the lobby for our first activity. This activity was just an icebreaker, in which each person would state their name and why they were excited for the trip. When it was my turn to speak, I introduced myself and explained that it was a dream of mine to Irish dance in Ireland, and I was excited to cross that item off of my bucket list. After the activity was over, my tour guide approached me and asked if I would be interested in dancing with two local dancers the next night at a pub. Of course I jumped at the opportunity. The next night, our tour group traveled through the Kerry Mountains to a small, hidden pub named Kate Kearney’s. After eating an authentic Irish dinner of shepherd’s pie and rum cheesecake, a music performance by an Irish band named Tuatha began. Soon after, I danced alongside Kiara and Caoimhe, two friendly natives who had grown up as neighbors in the small town of Kilarney. I was now able to cross dancing in Ireland off my bucket list, and in the process had made two new friends, who agreed to be my new pen pals.
The excitement of dancing in Ireland continued to keep me going for several days, but began to fade as our trip was coming to a close. Two days before our departure date, my family and I were in Dublin, and our tour group was headed to a famous pub named the Abbey Tavern. On this particular day, I was feeling homesick, and was wary about going to dinner. I had been told that there would be an Irish dance performance after dinner and the thought of watching the dancing upset me, as all I wanted to do was perform – not simply watch. Just as my emotions began to overwhelm me, however, volunteers were asked to join the dancers on the stage. Again, I jumped up and volunteered myself. All of my bad emotions left me, as I let all of my frustrations out on the dance floor. After dancing twice in Ireland, I was on a natural high for the rest of the trip.
Looking back on this trip, I am very thankful. I met countless new people, each who taught me something about Irish culture, traveling, and even myself. I also feel thankful that I was given the opportunity to travel internationally, and I am beyond thrilled to say that I have been able to cross off the biggest item on my bucket list – to Irish dance in Ireland.
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