Last week I made one of my oldest dreams come true with one of my best friends. I went to Ireland! I suppose it’s a bit cliche, but Ireland has always seemed to call to me. Even as a little kid, I longed for it – before I even knew what the emotion was. I dreamed about its green, its magic, its seeming connection to the stories I loved. Going there now, as an adult, I knew to be wary – that the reality was probably not the dreamscape I had in my head. Generally, I think that’s probably a good mindset to have when we confront the things we’ve spent our lives wishing for. But Ireland is an exception.
Let me answer for you some of the questions I had (and secretly hoped to see answered in certain ways). Yes, that green is real. Yes, there are a lot of castles. Yes, there are so many medieval ruins that sometimes you just see them on the side of the road as you drive by. Yes, the people really are that nice. Yes, you can feel echoes of past life there. Yes, it is unspeakably beautiful. Yes, it truly does feel haunting. Ireland is its own myth. It’s like a legend of itself. But it exists in our reality, somehow.
We drove through a place called Healy Pass sometime around the exact middle of our trip. We found this little waterfall, pulled over to the side of the road, and just sat by it for a while, watching the water pass by over the rocks and beneath a stone bridge, listening to its crashing in the otherwise quiet hills, feeling the wind whip our hair. I could have stood in this spot forever. I felt so at peace – so at home – here. I felt like a very particular part of me, maybe a part divorced from those with which I’m most familiar, belonged there.
It must have been the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. I don’t, generally, consider myself to be an especially spiritual person. I am a “true agnostic,” as Leah told me. But it’s hard not to believe in something else, even just a little bit, in Ireland. There were places, like I said, where I felt full-body peace – and there were others where I felt a not insubstantial amount of unease. The differences between these places, I couldn’t tell you – maybe it’s all imagined – but Ireland follows you home, I’ve come to realize, like a ghost.