I’ve finally made it to Cork, Ireland; the place where my grandmother grew up, and mutt that I am, the only veritable heritage connection that I really have (if a name like Molly doesn’t tell you I’m Irish, I’m not sure what does).
I had planned on staying in Copenhagen for my first travel break, not because I’m uninterested in traveling, but because European travel is so expensive, so I decided to travel mostly to places that I would have family or friends to stay with. Now some might say: “you only live in Europe once, and you should travel as much as possible while you’re there,” but for me that simply isn’t the case. I’m been extremely fortunate to have had many travel opportunities, I still have lots of family in Ireland (which is why I’m here) and I’ll most likely be able to claim my duel Irish (and therefore EU) citizenship.
My grandmother has lived in the United States for fifty five years now. She traveled to the States when she was 19, planning to stay just a year, but ended up falling in love with and marrying a Southerner. The rest is a story for another day, but she’s lived in the US ever since.
I came to Ireland once before, fourteen years ago, but a six year old can only absorb so much. When I decided to spend a semester abroad, I was very excited that I would be able to come back. When I looked at ticket prices they were crazy expensive and way out of my budget, so I’m incredibly grateful to my aunties (all my granny’s sisters) who bought me a ticket and gave me a place to stay for the week.
Yesterday I flew from Copenhagen to London to Cork. Now because England and Ireland are the only two countries in the EU that don’t participate in the Schengen Agreement (an agreement for freedom of movement and trade between EU countries), this means my passport is starting to rack up some stamps.
Today it was nice to relax and eat dinner with family and we got out to walk along the cliffs by the sea.
Now it might be sentimental, but I’ve always felt that having Irish heritage means I could potentially gain something especially profound from visiting the land where all of my Irish ancestors lived. Which is why even though I grew up in Florida (spending 11 years there) I often say that I’m from Tennessee because of the huge concentration of grandfathers family in East Tennessee, dating back more than one hundred years. To quote a famous (if fictional) Irishman, Gerald O’Hara of Gone with the Wind: “The land ye live on is like your Mother.” Incidentally, “Tá Éire mo Máhtair” translates to “Ireland is my mother” in Gaelic (Irish).
When most people talk about visiting Ireland, they talk of Dublin or Belfast (which, incidentally is NOT in Ireland, that’s part of the UK) but Cork in Southern Ireland is highly underrated. Despite being home to the Jameson Whiskey Distillery, everyone seems much more enthusiastic about the Guinness brewery in Dublin. But the cliffs of Ballycotton are only one of the beautiful sights around, so for the next few days this blog should essentially be a “What to see in Cork” guide.
Blackberries are my favorite, so I was pleased that they’re still growing.