St. Patrick's Day began as a religious holiday celebrating a patron saint of Ireland but has gradually transformed into a secular celebration of Irish culture by the Irish, the Irish diaspora and everyone who just wants to join the party. Nowadays when St. Paddy's day rolls around, rather than heading to a pub for some green beer, I find myself thinking about Ireland and reminiscing about our trip there in 1996.
Being of Irish heritage, Ireland was always a dream destination of mine and it did not disappoint. Flying into Dublin I was amazed at the deep green landscape that stretched as far as the eye could see. We stayed in beautiful castles, explored charming villages, drove around the Ring of Kerry and kissed the Blarney Stone (this was before I became a germophobe with a bottle of Purell always at hand). I remember driving on the left on the narrowest roadways I have ever seen and stopping frequently for the herds of sheep that were wandering across. I remember visiting Cobh where my ancestors set sail for Canada dreaming of a better life and I remember my excitement over visiting the sites in Dublin that I had read about so many times. But what I remember most is the friendliness of the Irish people. The story I like to tell is about the day that we were driving from Cong to Killarney and ended up in a large, multi-laned roundabout at rush hour. We had already circled the roundabout twice, unsure which exit we wanted, when a lorry pulled alongside us and motioned for me to roll down the window. "And where might you be wanting to go?", the driver asked and when I told him he proceeded to give me directions as we circled the roundabout once again. Where else would that happen?
Ireland is one of the places that I look forward to returning to with my children to show them everything that I loved so much about it. Hopefully that day is coming soon!
May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind always be at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face, and rains fall soft upon your fields...
Happy St. Patrick's Day
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