The Graham side of my family has long claimed to be Irish. While we don’t have any actual data to back it up, my kin will point to our freckles, the red-headed kid in each family, our ability to get sunburned when outside more than 5 minutes, and overall enjoyment of drinking. Despite this, Ancestry.com hasn’t validated our claims.
Nonetheless, I was thrilled to visit good friends in Ireland last year and explore its lush landscape. The serene beauty of winding roads, fields and fields of green, sleepy cows, and colorful towns all winked in my memory as I planned our European expedition.
Stepping off the plane in late June, we were welcomed to Killarney by our friends Kristy, Noel and his two Irish lads, Sam and Christopher. On any journey, there’s something special about being houseguests. The collective kids wasted no time in kicking off shoes, leaping onto the trampoline, and chasing each other with Nerf guns. The adults settled into cooking (them), golfing (husband), and sampling wine (moi).
Having four boys in a house meant either dirty feet from running outside or the clacking sounds of technology in the other room. My husband golfed five rounds in 2 ½ days, emerging for a few hours a day to talk about cliffs, clubs, and curious sheep. The days were spent exploring as a group, with Noel (who grew up in Killarney) leading our leprechauns on grand adventures. We visited national parks, replicas of Irish farm homes, and a menagerie of animals in the petting zoo. We stopped at The Ewe sculpture garden where all sorts of eclectic art was on display. Weaving through the wooded walkways felt like we were just a few steps behind Alice in her outdoor wonderland.
A native Texan, Kristy was our translator for phrases, culture, and menu descriptions. We ate like kings, enjoying the freshness of our feasts and a proper Sunday Irish supper. Kristy explained that the food doesn’t have all the preservatives like in the U.S. Bread lasts days not weeks, groceries are consumed in a day or two, and the Guinness is always expertly poured.
Europe is a collection of great cultures, and I enjoy the different personalities of the cities. In Ireland, there is a peacefulness that settles within you. It feels fresh, content, and always welcoming. There’s a quiet pride in the Irish – and a tolerance for the wanna-be’s like the faux O’Grahams. Regardless of my claimed heritage, I know there is a home for me anytime with a fresh cuppa at the ready.
P.S. Apart from golf courses, here was my husband’s view of Ireland for three days: