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    Posted April 5, 2012 by
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Trip abroad that inspired you

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    Ireland, Blessed Ireland


    As with fixing up friends on blind dates, I question the wisdom of giving advice to those who are traveling to one of my treasured spots. Romance and travel are so subjective that the success rate for the go-between is akin to one’s chance of winning the Lottery. Despite the odds, when asked, I feel compelled to take the risk. So it was when Pete and Andrea, asked for suggestions of what they should do with a few days following a conference in Ireland. I took a breath, went back ten years, when a stay in Galway City returned me to life, and offered up possibilities.


    My husband, Bud, and I began going to Ireland in the 1990’s, and by March of 2002 had been there so many times we’d lost count. Usually we rented a car and packed in as much as we could, as when we booked rural B&B’s, starting on a dairy farm near Kinsale and ending up two weeks and four stays later on a sheep ranch at the northern tip of Malin Head, This trip, however, was different. On September 11, 2001 our country was attacked by terrorists, and three days later I was operated on for breast cancer. My world had been attacked by rogue cells, and I reeled like I had never done before. By March, although my physical healing was going well, like my country, I was a long way from being whole. I needed something more than my doctors could supply. With no plan in mind, we headed to Ireland, the land of my ancestors.


    After picking up a car at Shannon, we headed to Galway City, and booked a room for our full stay. I forget now why we chose the location or the hotel. Maybe it was our love of Ireland’s wild, west coast, or maybe it just seemed the right thing to do.


    Daily for the next week we drove out from town—to monasteries, where dark-clad monks moved noiselessly about their chores, and we lunched on homemade soup and bread at nearby pubs. We traveled farm roads, stopping to watch spring lambs on the hillsides explore the wonder of their newly found world. More than once we parked at the edge of the Cliffs of Moher, where I stood, looking down at the churning water below me and gazing into the mass of gray sea-sky beyond. With the passing of days, I felt chunks of my wounded self slipping into the blessed eternalness of the place and time that is Ireland, leaving me feeling healed deep within the abyss that had been the previous six months.


    Ten years later my soul still welds up within me when I reflect in gratitude on the gift of healing that Ireland afforded me. For, as our country has realized since the devastation of 911, it’s not just the body that must mend after being ravaged but the spirit as well.


    While I can’t promise Pete and Andrea that Ireland will touch their soul, as it did mine in 2002, I hope it stirs them in ways that will still bring warm memories ten years later.

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