When I returned from my first trip to Ireland, a buddy who’d been there several times asked, “Did you feel it ?” That’s all he said, and I knew exactly what he meant.
Ireland is a poem, a ramble, a reek, a song, a session, an emerald, a brogue, a jaunt, a lure, a dream. Ireland is lush and crag, warm and brutal, pubs and bookies, bangers and stout. Its history is written by independent and proud people subjected to invasions and oppression, followed by risings.
Frank McCourt chronicled his wretched childhood in his Pulitzer Prize winning Angela’s Ashes. His formative years were characterized by poverty, malnutrition and loss of siblings, yet he wrote in ‘Tis,
“You’d think that after all the miserable days in Limerick I wouldn’t even want to go back to Ireland but when the plane approaches the coast and the shadows of clouds are moving across the fields and it’s all green and mysterious I can’t stop myself from crying.” He said he was glad nobody asked him why because he, “wouldn’t be able to describe the feeling that came around his heart about Ireland because there are no words for it and I never knew I’d feel this way.”
I likely wouldn’t have known I felt that way either if my buddy hadn’t asked, and I didn’t grow up in the lanes of Limerick. I only know that when he asked that simple question, a yearning stirred deep inside.
In the middle of our trip to Ireland, my wife and I took a brief detour to Scotland for a five-day escape. We began in Edinburg and drove across the highlands to Inverness, then to the Isle of Skye before ending in Glasgow. It was a fabulous ride through a breathtaking land, yet when our plane touched down back at Shannon, we look one another and said, “We’re home.”