I have been instructed to write a travel blog concerning the community I live in or with which I identify. Well, you stumped me; the community I live in is, in fact, not the community with which I identify. In the summer of 2012, I stepped on the ground of Ireland: the land of my ancestors. Their bones were in the earth, part of the earth, part of that grand, enchanting, Emerald Isle. And I felt them. I knew almost at once I had found a place, a place I could return to marvel at continually.
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After leaving the city of Dublin, my family embarked on a trip that crossed the nation: the rolling, green hills, the dilapidated castles, abbeys, monasteries. The Rock of Cashel dominated this landscape, the surrounding ruins basking in the glow of its once impenetrable might, having ended long ago due to the ceaseless Oliver Cromwell. We made our way to Kenmare, a town of beautiful, undying colors, highlighting the excited Irish culture through the opaque, unrelenting fall of soft rain. Some might have complained about the rain, but I did not hold this philosophy. The rain made the island, made the grass, made the trees, watered the land and grew the earth. It would not have been the same without the rain, which continued for days. This rain slicked the rocks of the Ardgroom Stone Circle, one of the many in Ireland, ingeniously constructed by an ancient people in model of the surrounding mountains. In Kenmare, my family visited a pub, one of the many, many in the town, and listened to the musical musings of a talented artist, orchestrating the folk songs of his fathers, carried down generation to generation. Note: Nothing is more perfect on earth than being in the land of a people while their cultural flow of music surrounds you in unparalleled warmth.
The following day, I must admit, had no match. Via the small fishing village of Portmagee, I traveled to Skellig Michael, an isolated, jagged island that resembled a massive canine protruding from the depths of the North Atlantic. Twelve kilometers from shore, a virtually unreachable monastery was constructed on the top of this island in the sixth century, signifying the ambitious spread of Catholicism during its height. For a variety of reasons, the daring place of worship was abandoned in the twelfth century, leaving a haunting, brooding memorial to the feat of human kind, a massive stair, a desolate lifestyle, and an incomprehensible survival.
I have been to the edge of the world. Subsequent to a peaceful hiatus in Dingle (a town renowned for its staggering number of pubs, over fifty, each maintaining the character of its eccentric owner) I journeyed along Slea Head Drive. There is nothing more beautiful that I have ever seen in the world. Sparkling blue water, welcoming white beaches, astounding green mountains, careening beige cliffs. In other words, paradise. The wind blew upon my face as I attempted to register the massive expanse of country in front of my eyes. Others around me explored the rocky edge of Ireland, the Atlantic Ocean forever flowing before us.
Ireland was not an experience; it was more than an experience. It shaped me into part of who I am, who my ancestors were. It was the land they walked on. Of course, there was a lot more involved: countless orders of fish and chips, numerous pubs, and amazing people. You will have to see the rest for yourself. Be forewarned, however, do not expect to see any leprechauns other than those walking the streets of Dublin.
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