When a stranger comes to Ireland to visit relatives, they frequently ask “How long will you be home?” The first time you hear it you are thrown off. You want to respond “I will be going home in a week” or whenever. But then you realize. You ARE home. They will always talk about when family comes home — comes back to visit the homeland. And it does feel like home. From the incredibly generous hospitality, to the lovely conversations, to the care and interest in the extended family trees (oh yes, I can tell you if someone is my second cousin twice removed and what that exactly means!), there is no place on earth other than my home in the Chicago area that feels like home. It is truly special.
I spent three days visiting family that I already knew, and met many more on the tree. And this is just the tree for my mom’s paternal family. I would like to research my mom’s maternal side, and connect with the Irish side if possible on my dad’s side. In the meantime, there is plenty of family already here that I have had the privilege to meet, sit in their kitchens and be served tea and food with such generous hospitality. Usually, you begin to sit with just a few in the kitchen and before you know it the room is full of people. The woman of the house keeps producing more food, more tea almost miraculously. It is a wonderful way of connecting that we don’t (or at least I don’t) do enough at home. Visiting. No elaborate reasons, or decorating, or meals. Just plenty of tea, and treats stashed away to be brought out.
When talking about family trees, there is also the need to pay respects to those no longer with us. The Irish really respect their graves, take care of them, bring flowers. I visited many graves on this trip, as I have in the past. Only this time, I knew some of them who are now gone. Very sad, but grateful that I had the opportunity to meet them.
Took a trip to meet a dairy farmer who is also running a microbrewery right next door. There’s an inspirational story of doing what is expected of you — keeping up the family dairy farm — while following your own dream and passion. Called Brehon Brewery. I liked the Killanny Red. May be coming to the States!
So fun to visit the family. Lots of laughs, pints, and music. What a gift to come home again.
Oh, in case you don’t believe in leprechauns…