Ireland Summer 2015

9:23 AM

A flower vendor on the streets of Dublin

Witnessing a sheep shearing

I just really liked the colors here

Grey day on the Cliffs of Moher

Saint Stephen's green

A goodbye gift from Ireland

The prettiest building in Dublin

Visiting the Waterford Crystal shop

In summer of 2015, I went to Ireland with my mother as my graduation gift. We spent thirteen days on the Emerald Isle, taking a bus tour around the country. While I was studying in Malaysia, my parents went to Ireland for an anniversary trip and my mother promised she'd bring me one day.
Ireland  had special meaning as it where my family comes from. My mother's side of the family has traced their ancestry back to Patrick McKown who immigrated to America in the eighteenth century. On our first day in the Northern part of Ireland, my mother and I went on a solo adventure to see exactly where our family came from. Irish public transport is impeccable, compared to Asia and New York. The trains are punctual, clean, and everyone is willing to strike up a conversation. Nothing like the Subway etiquette of NYC: don't make eye contact and don't manspread. After a pleasant venture, we arrived in Glenarm, County Antrim. We were met by the town's tourism represantative who showed us around town. Some digging in musty church records and archives led us to where the family was likely buried and the house the likely lived in. It was a moving experience to stand somewhere where my roots quite literally stood before me. I've never travelled somewhere with such a personal connection before, and it added a lot to the trip.
I especially enjoyed my time in Dublin. Dublin streets are bustling places, the corners crowded with street performers and flower stands. Many hours were spent popping into little boutiques, looking at wool sweaters and making conversation. Our hotel was situated behind a gorgeous park that we could cut through to access the more bustling parts of the city. On days where the sun was shining, the grass would be covered with people sunbathing, eating lunch, and relaxing with friends. The people in Ireland were kind souls, always offering a cup of tea or directions. 
I'd have to say my other favorite part of Ireland was the Cliffs of Moher. The weather that day was very Irish, grey skies, a sort of strong mist falling, and chilly. My mother doesn't like steps, especially wet ones, so I ventured to the top of my cliffs solo. At one point, there was a point where the path was marked off with a "Danger" sign, but I, with many others stepped around it. The view was well worth it. For 2 Euros, I also decided to climb to the top of the remnants of the castle. It was probably five times as windy as up there. I timed my ascent right so I was completely alone, salty air from the sea whipping my hair around, the sound of the waves crashing silencing everything else around me. I was almost soaking wet at that point, but it was one of those moments where you feel infinitely small and infinitely significant at the same time. The cliffs had been visited by countless people before, and will keep on being visited. You can't leave your mark on the cliffs, but they can leave their mark on you. 
I don't think I'll be able to stay away from Ireland. My mother is already talking about renting a cottage there next summer. I have more exploring to do there, both of the country and my family's history.

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