It all began over a plate of eggs. My partner (at the time), Eric, and I were having Saturday breakfast with his family. This almost weekly ritual is our time to catch up – to lament about work, chat about weekend plans, and just unwind a bit. For months we had been casually tossing around the idea of taking a family trip. Of course, we oooh’d and ahhh’d over all the places we could go. Ireland was at the tip top our lists. For me, I salivate at the thought of traveling there. The crumbling castles, the green rolling hills, the festive music in the pubs with pints of Guinness in our hands. And the accents? Oh, my… THE ACCENTS!
I visited Dublin about a decade ago, but it was such a miniscule amount of time – almost as if someone had given me a taste of the most delectable treat but refused to give me the whole bite. I wanted to see more.
So, back to the eggs. I can’t remember who said it over breakfast that morning, but it went something like this: We need to just stop talking about this trip and just book it. It was probably put a little more eloquently than this, but you get the gist.
The wheels were put in motion that day and after a few phone calls to our lovely travel agent, Robyn, and an email to an owner on Home Away, we cobbled together one epic family adventure. We chose to travel over the winter holidays. Yeah, not the best weather, but the prices for airfare were great and our home rental was dirt cheap.
We had a whopping seven people in our party! We flew into Dublin, packed ourselves sardine-like into a mini-van, and then trekked across the country to the Ring of Kerry.
Our home-base was in the charming village of Waterville, best known for its ties to Charlie Chaplin – it was his favorite spot for a holiday. We pulled into town, a little jet-lagged, but excited to experience all the great things the Irish countryside had to offer. We still had a couple of hours to kill before our house would be available, so we plunked ourselves down at the Lobster Bar in town. The fish and chips were fantastic – probably my favorite that I’ve had in Ireland so far – but it was the spontaneous entertainment that ignited our excitement about finally being in Ireland.
Our seaside cottage was ahhh-mazing! It was on an acre-plot (my best guesstimate) and had huge windows overlooking the countryside and the Atlantic beyond. We were all pretty stoked that we had a perfect view of Skellig Michael – the island that was shown in the trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi! The house itself had a big, open kitchen which gave Eric ample time to do what he loves to do: cook. Four generous bedrooms, three bathrooms, a glass-enclosed reading room, and a living room with overstuffed couches. With such a big group, the layout for the house worked perfectly for us. The rooms were tucked in the back of the house away from the kitchen and living room and separated by a set of French doors, which meant that on the nights some of us wanted to stay up late, we didn’t disturb those who were sleeping.
Each day, we would pile into the car with little more on our agenda than to explore the Ring of Kerry and the towns we found along the way. Cahersiveen, Dingle Peninsula, Sneem, Kenmare, Killarney National Park… all gorgeous! There never seemed to be enough hours in the day, but we came home to our cozy house each night elated and exhausted.
So, I have to admit I had another secret agenda during our trip to Ireland. Eric and I had been in a committed, loving relationship for over a decade at this point. He is a man of great patience and had told me time and time again that he was happy being with me – married or not. It was me who was always hesitant about getting married. Old scars from losing my first husband at a young age planted deep seeds of fear in my heart.
I had a heart-to-heart conversation with my friend and her mom before we left for Ireland, and they both asked me tough-love questions that needed to be asked. Talking helped tremendously, and the fear had finally lifted like a dark fog. I knew beyond a shadow of doubt what I wanted to do.
It was just before dawn on Christmas Eve, and Eric and I were wide awake from the lingering jet-lag. We bundled up and decided to hike along the Kerry Trail which ran right alongside our rental. We snapped pictures inside the stacked stone Kerry House and followed the muddy trail above the coastline, happy to finally have some Irish soil on the soles of our shoes.
The sun finally made an appearance, and I remember the waters of the Atlantic looking especially blue that day. It was the moment. Our moment. With shaking hands, I reached into my pocket to find a tiny treasure I had stashed in my luggage before I left: a Claddagh pendant Eric had given years before on Christmas Day.
I reached over, tucked the pendant into his palm, and said to him, “I’m ready.” One breath. Two. Three. It took him a moment to realize what I was saying. I was ready to be his wife. It was such an incredible moment of love and honor and appreciation for all that we had and hoped to have together. It was a moment that was so US.
We just got married two months ago, and it’s strange to think how far we’ve come since that morning on the Ring of Kerry. My best friend. My travel partner. And now my husband!
Ireland holds such a special place in my heart – the time spent with family, the fantastic places we saw with our own two eyes, and the place where I asked Eric to be my husband. Gah! It makes me teary just writing about it!
We’re anxious to get back to Ireland, not only to pop by the Lobster Bar to say hello our favorite bartender, James, but to also keep exploring one of my most favorites places on this planet – a place that changed the course of my life.
Until next time, Ireland!
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