I have this intense desire to visit the homelands of my ancestors. It is as if the countries of Ireland, Germany and Poland are calling me “home”. It doesn’t matter that I was born in the US, as was my parents and grandparents! I think on some subconscious level it is my attempt to connect to my great grandparents – to as it were – “to take a walk in their shoes”. Since I never had the opportunity to meet them, at least maybe I could learn a little bit about them.
Eighteen months ago, my older brother proposed the idea that my husband and I should join him and his wife on a trip to Ireland. My brother (as was my Dad) is a big Notre Dame University fan and they had a football game scheduled for Sept. 1st, 2012 in Dublin, Ireland, playing the Naval Academy team. While my football allegiances lie with my alma mater, the UCLA Bruins, this was an opportunity too great to pass up. He even sweetened the deal by allowing me to select the itinerary for the trip.
I did a bit of research and decided that among the choices – Galway, Claire or Kerry (Belfast was never even in my consideration), that I would select Galway as the 2nd city in our 2 city tour. You see the trip was a planned tour so while we wouldn’t have to worry about transportation from one place to another or accommodations, it would be limiting in where we could visit. Neither County Mayo nor County Meath (the birthplaces of my great grandparents) were choices for the tour. I am guessing that means these aren’t the most favorite tourist spots!
However, County Galway is just south of County Mayo so I would be close to my ancestral homeland. Does this actually count? Well, at that moment I rationalized just stepping on Irish soil would be enough. The big bonus to Galway was that I could also see the magnificent Cliffs of Moher. Now, I do know that the Cliffs are actually in County Claire but they offered tours from Galway. So after selecting side tours – one to the Cliffs and the Burren and another one in Dublin, I paid my deposit and went on with my daily life for the next 18 months.
NOTE: The next 10 or so posts will be about my trip to Ireland – the wonderful discoveries, the amazing people and their culture, and a very special surprise side trip that led me to my ancestral “home town”.