Now a few days removed from the Irish Adventure, I look back on the experience with a great sense of satisfaction.
In my initial blog post, I set a general rule that I must say "yes" to all new experiences and I believe I followed through. The hurling experience and mountain climb come to mind as good examples of this. I also predicted that traveling alone would undoubtedly lead to meeting new people and finding myself in unique situations, and I am more than satisfied with the way things worked out in this category as well.
Further, I gave myself a top five things I was looking forward to experiencing:
2. Family History
3. Physical Beauty
5. Pubs and Live Music
As I consider my experiences and compare them to that list, I'm confident that I got more than what I bargained for in each category. Especially when it comes to the surprises. Almost this entire trip was a surprise, which drives my satisfaction.
While the top five listed above are important and I'm happy with the way each of them were addressed, I've concluded that the goals and objectives for this trip can be summed up more succinctly. I'm not sure if it is a coincidence that the Irish seem to be the only culture that has a word for this, but as I look back on the adventure, I was constantly seeking a good "craic". I've mentioned this word before, but in general terms, craic refers to a vibe, an energy, a level of fun, etc. Irish people can often be overheard asking "what's the craic?" Although I didn't realize it at the time, I was constantly asking "where's the craic?" as I wandered the country, introducing myself to people, and continuously seeking some good craic.
So craic (pronounced "crack") is an important, overarching theme for the trip. I also wonder if there is evidence of Irish culture on our own here in America, as we use phrases like "crack a joke", "crack a smile", and "you crack me up". I used to think this was some weird figure of speech, and that to make someone laugh meant to figuratively put physical cracks all over their face and bodies. Seems to make a lot more sense to me with the Irish influence.
Similar to how I've reflected on other trips I've taken, I feel that this Irish Safari can be used as a metaphor and microcosm for life overall. Oftentimes I was faced with a decision that would impact the rest of the trip, and often a decision to go one direction also meant a decision to NOT go the other (the Cliffs of Moher vs. Tully Cross, for instance). There were no right or wrong decisions at these pivotal moments, rather a choice between two different futures. Whether the choice I made turned out to be "right" or "wrong" ended up depending entirely on my attitude toward the decision. I never made it to the Cliffs of Moher, but that Tully Cross adventure will go down in history (in my book, at least) as one of the more exciting days I've ever experienced.
It honestly blows my mind when I think of all the generosity and hospitality that I experienced on this trip. I met some downright wonderful people, and they each deserve a thank you (in order of appearance in this blog):
To Jenny Becker: Thank you for providing me with companionship during those first uneasy days in Dublin, and for engaging me in a discussion of cultures. You got my trip started in the right direction.
To Padraig Hourigan: You were the one person on that island that I had any sort of connection with when I touched down in Dublin, and you singlehandedly provided me with experiences and connections that I otherwise would not have had (hurling, Tipperary connections, a place to stay in Dublin, etc.)
To Tina and Nina: The unlikely Slovenian-American friendship continues, thanks to your efforts to come and join me in Dublin. Let me know when you decide it is time for a visit to the United States, and I will roll out the red carpet to the absolute best of my abilities. Next time I travel anywhere within range of Slovenia, I will make you aware.
To the Tralee Galvins: Thank you for not calling the police on me when I barged into your pub on a holiday morning, declaring to be family while dripping with sweat. When combined with the following day's experience at Carrauntoohil, this two-day event is unforgettable, and is one of the most viewed stories on my blog (over 350 views!). Don't be surprised if a wave of American Galvin's begins to converge on Gally's in the near future.
To Mary and Michael Hourigan: I am still somewhat in disbelief when I consider how hospitable you were to me, and it makes me want to be a more hospitable person. Much like the Tralee Galvins, please do not be surprised if other Benton descendants make the trip to Tipperary to meet you, visit Miles Grady, and drink your tea.
To the City of Limerick: You got the best of me with that rainstorm. I shall return for vengeance one day!
To Padraig (again!), Karen, and little Michael: It was great to spend time with all of you, and I look forward to keeping in touch with all of you, and to watch Michael grow up and probably win the lotto a few times (that's an inside joke, sorry).
To Gerry Coyne and the entire population of Tully Cross: Thanks for the hospitality and the memories. I'll be telling that story for decades to come.
To Padraig (one more time!): Let's be in touch regarding your next trip to America. Chicago seems like a good destination, and I'll line up more family for you to meet.
To the Cliffs of Moher, Dingle Peninsula, and other Ireland "must-sees" that I didn't get to see: You haven't seen the last (nor the first) of Sean Timothy Galvin. I shall return!