I’ve been home for more than a week and I can still feel the cold air breezing through my hair and across my cheeks. Ireland was a dream.
Like all my vacations, I tucked away my pen and allowed my senses to take over. Retreats and conferences are for writing. Vacations are for exploring and experiencing and devouring all the details. Especially in the company of a good friend from high school and college.
I could have allowed my fingers to graze my laptop’s keys, but I wouldn’t have seen the sheep grazing in the greenest of fields, thick with wool and unbothered by the chill and dampness in the air. I surely would have missed the week-old lamb grazing on my bootlaces and another on my scarf and hair, entangled by the sea breeze.
With all the beauty and inspiration around me, it would have been easy to dive into a new story. But then I likely wouldn’t have been as awestruck by the Cliffs of Moher and how their edges dive 700-feet down amid swooping birds and wind and seawater spraying the grooved and vertical earth.
Had I spilled everything I saw onto paper the minute I drank it up, I doubt I would have fully enjoyed the Irish beers and whiskeys I drank in pubs with live music dancing around my ears and into my heart. I might not have fully drank in the pub experience or sang at the top of my voice when all the songs that define me were mashed into one intoxicated hour or two.
Stories were everywhere. I saw one in the sunken eyes and red chin stumble of the Clonycavan Man, preserved in a bog for 2,300 years. Another as I looked out the window of Eddie Rocket’s diner at packed Dame Street on Easter Sunday, watching the locals watch the streets for the start of the Easter Rising centennial.
And another waiting for me in the spiral staircase of the Blarney Castle as I tried not to look through the gaping 8th-story window or remember that I was trapped in a queue in a stone stronghold built in the 15th century. I found another story along the Ring of Kerry where a small dog smiled at me from the dipped back of a donkey.
Colorful weather-worn houses lined the main street of Portmagee. A harpist’s song fluttered atop the Cliffs of Moher and down through the valley, sending whispers on the wind. Boot heels tapped to the beat of the damp night along the cobbled streets of Dublin. Frustrated morning winds curled the waters of Galway into toothless grins.
Pints of Guinness frothed and settled and darkened while we spoke to 80-year-old men born and raised in Bunratty. Stones circled a fairy tree, the locals warning us not to steal even a twig from the leprechauns. A scone spread with black currant jam jigged on my tongue, washed down with milky tea near a cozy fireplace. A rainbow spread above us as we slowly ferried from Tarbert to Killmer, beaconing us as we passed under it with the wind and drizzle.
Though eight days came and went like a rain cloud on a sunny Irish day, I could fill pages and pages with the details I devoured.