On September 27, 2005, I fell in love. It was that madly, deeply, head over heels, at first sight kinda love. And today, nearly twelve years later, I’m more madly, deeply, fallen in love than I was that first day.
That day. That fateful fall day marked the first time I laid eyes on Ireland. Stepping out of the Shannon Airport in County Clare, the country instantly came alive for me, and I honestly haven’t been the same since. To say that I think about Ireland almost every single day is not an exaggeration. I could probably talk about Ireland all day, too! (Anyone game to test this theory with me?)
The trip lasted a week. Far too short. So, I returned to Ireland for a two-week trip in 2008, but haven’t set foot on Irish soil since. After nearly ten years apart, the heartache is so very real. Long distance relationships are HARD, folks!
To counter the ache and the distance, I decided to compose love letter to Ireland—a How do I love thee? Let me count the ways sort of prose to this land that stole my heart and won’t let go. And, for each reason I love Ireland, I’ve added an accompanying recommendation. So, ya might wanna prepare yourself to fall in love with this place, too!
(Just please excuse my photos, as I owned a poor quality camera in both 2005 and 2008!)
Ireland, fair Ireland.
I love your verdant landscape. All photos fail to capture your pure, vibrant, perfect shade of green.
(Visit: Anywhere! The greenness cannot be contained!)
I love your coastal cliffs that stretch for miles, drawing my eye to some far speck of shore that beckons me onward, drawing me ever onward out of my spellbound state.
(Visit: Slieve League in County Donegal. Almost three times higher than the Cliffs of Moher and far less touristy, Slieve League is a MUST. Plus, it’s free, and you can hike as far and as high as you like!)
I love your narrow, winding roadways that scarcely fit two cars in passing, but reward the effort with brilliant vistas around each bend.
(Visit: Conor Pass on the Dingle Peninsula in County Kerry. You’ll wonder how you made it to the top without swiping another vehicle, but the views are worth every near collision!)
I love your castles ruined and those restored, each with a story of its own. Whether stationed on a cliffside, or settled near an inland village, these fairytale fortresses take me back in time.
(Visit: Dunluce Castle on the northern shores of Northern Ireland. These clifftop ruins inspired C.S. Lewis’ Cair Paravel in his Narnia series.)
I love your people, those jolly, friendly, lovely Irish people who proudly call you home and fully embrace the spirit of céad míle fáilte (an Irish greeting translated: “A hundred thousand welcomes”).
(Visit: Any local pub or shop and talk to the people inside. Shopkeepers, bartenders, anyone with an Irish accent. They’ll treat you like an old friend, and you’ll leave with a smile in your heart for such welcoming folk.)
I love your charming towns, awash with color and alive with craic and camaraderie.
(Visit: Killarney in County Kerry, with its quaint yet urban vibes. It’s also the perfect starting point for a drive around the famed Ring of Kerry.)
I love your ever-roaming sheep, walking about in wooly confidence as if they own the land.
(Visit: Achill Island in County Mayo, where I once saw two sheep out for an afternoon stroll down the sidewalk, sans humans. But really, any rural roadway is an opportunity for a sheep encounter that very well might slow your roll.)
I love your windswept wilderness, ripe for adventure in every direction your eyes can see and feet will go.
(Visit: Carrick-a-rede rope bridge, connecting mainland Northern Ireland to a tiny coastal island once popular with fishermen. At 98 feet above the sea, the not-so-subtle sway of the bridge will arm you with a rush of adrenaline that makes the return crossing even more empowering!)
I love your matchless beauty that transcends all comprehension, for it only can be topped by heaven itself.
(Visit: Giant’s Causeway in Northern Ireland to experience the otherworldly formation of basalt columns covering a substantial stretch of coast. It’s a must-see to believe sort of place!)
No matter where I roam, dear isle, please know my heart belongs to you, forever longing for your magic in my life.
Ok. That may read a tad dramatic. (But only a tad, right?) You’ve all written love letters to countries, haven’t you? Ummm… ok. Maybe not. But still. I hope you feel the passion I have for the Emerald Isle, because it is the real deal. And, if you’ve never been, run to your computer and book a flight NOW.
You’re welcome! (Or should I say céad míle fáilte?)