Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Why Ireland?

With a maiden name like McKee I must be at least a teeny bit Irish right? I have the freckles, the blue eyes and the temper (no offense to those who are truly Irish and mild mannered). Most of my life I had this craving to visit Ireland. In fact during my sophomore year of high school we were required to write to a college and request information. I am sure the intention was to get us interested in our collegiate future. I sent my request to Trinity University in Dublin, Ireland. I poured through the brochure and suddenly had a desire to learn Gaelic, this only fed my hunger for travel. It was that very same year I applied as a Rotary Exchange Student and ended up in New Zealand.
Years passed as they do. I did make it close during those years, visiting Glasgow, Scotland as well as London and Manchester England.
Often in life it is the most unexpected things that take us where we want to go (physically and emotionally). Such is the case for my eventual journey to the Emerald Isle. September 11, 2001 caused the end of my career as an airline recruiter in the Boston area. My immediate feeling was despair. Not only had I worked in the airline industry for the previous 11 years and it would never be the same, but traveling was my passion. What risks would be involved in future airline travel? I was the mother of 16 month old child, could I take flight with the worry that our plane may crash due to terrorists?
The fear, as strong as it was on September 11,12,13 and for the following weeks was quickly balanced, by an amazing offer from Aer Lingus. I was unemployed, had a young child and said to my husband "shall I book a ticket?" His reply was something like "okay". Anyway he did not say "no". So I did. My daughter was young enough that she was a lap child, and I purchased an army duffel so we could "backpack around Ireland" for a week.
We started in Dublin and I finally visited Trinity University, wandered the campus thinking about what it would have been like to have been a university student there. We stayed at a little hotel near the zoo and spent some time there as well.
After a couple of nights in Dublin we headed off for Roscrea. A little village in the center of the country where we stayed at a bed and breakfast. This little town does not have much to be renowned for and that is why it was chosen. I wanted to see how the people in a village lived, off the beaten path. I wanted to know what life is like outside of the hustle and bustle of Irish city life, and outside of touristy towns. My memories of Roscrea are primarily of the simplicity. Spending time at the park. Going to the market. Taking our laundry to the laundrette and picking it up a few hours later. Going to the town's Chinese restaurant as finding a healthy Irish meal was not an easy task, so Chinese gave us our dose of veggies. Ah yes and the lady who took us from the train stop to the bed and breakfast in town. Irish hospitality, see I must have a little Irish in me.
After a couple of days there we ventured on to the other side of the island, Limerick. Limerick is particularly special. The bed and breakfast in Limerick lead to my current life. The innkeeper had an 8 year old son, Jack. Jack played with my daughter, interacted in a way that only children can. If you have ever traveled alone with a toddler you know it can be continuous duty. In addition to Jack she had 3 older children. This experience I recalled years later, as I considered opening All Nations Bed and Breakfast. Children can be an asset to your establishment. They add character, that is for sure, but also when they interact with the guests they add value.
If you would like to visit Ireland, but aren't able to make there today, why not stay a night or two in the Ireland room? Decorated in green, with a Celtic book on the nightstand, you too can dream a little.

1 comment:

  1. The Ireland room is somehow the least "foreign" of all the rooms I stayed in (having sampled all of the rooms in one way or another!) The Ireland room is as authentic as all the rest, but as the most "European" of the rooms it felt most home-like, in an Irish sort of way!