Full of Blarney

That would be me, kissing the Blarney Stone.

An Irish Blessing

May those that love us, love us
And for those that don't love us,
May God turn their hearts.
And, if He cannot turn their hearts,
May he turn their ankles, so we may know them by their limping.
May you live as long as you want,
And, never want, as long as you live.

While living in Europe in the mid-1990s, we decided our first great European vacation would be to family-friendly Ireland. We made the requisite trip to a travel agent, who posted fourteen nights worth of reservations for us, at various farmhouse bed and breakfast establishments across the Emerald Isle. I then purchased an English-edition, Eye-Witness travel guide from a Brussels book seller, which I eagerly read from cover to cover.

When summer-break commenced, we packed the mini-van (considered an American oddity, at the time), and headed out across the Belgian countryside to the French coast, where we loaded our nifty-white-mini-van (travel-pod tethered securely to the roof) into a train car, and journeyed under the English Channel, via the Chunnel, to merry old England.

After spending a night in a quaint Welsh town where I had my first ever, pint of Cider, we boarded a ferry, and traveled the short distance across the Irish Sea.  We found Ireland to be all that we expected it to be, and more.  That's not to say, that we didn't have some disappointments, and down time, as we meandered across the country-side, blaring Pink Floyd, and the Moody Blues from the dashboard tape-deck.

As the family cheerleader, I was tasked with making sure that everyone maintained a good attitude, while traveling.  I'd been fairly successful in my attempt to keep morale high, until one afternoon in Kildare, when the my dearly beloved travel-guide, made a swift, and unexpected trip through the driver-side window, landing on the grassy shoulder of the high-way (it was quickly, and tearfully retrieved, no worse for the journey).  

Aside from several instances of near heart-failure, while navigating the twists and turns in the humble roadway, (remember, it was an American-made mini-van, and we were in the British Isles), the trip was low-key.

But, that's not to say, it wasn't chock-full of adventure.  The escapade I recall most vividly, necessitated our hasty, pre-dawn exit, through the bedroom window of a bed and breakfast in the west of Ireland. This particular bed and breakfast, appeared to be owned by the local taxidermist, who much to the children's horror, took great pride in displaying his work.  There were other issues there as well (wink, wink), that inspired our stealthy departure.

Rick and I returned to Ireland several times in the years that followed our First-Great- European-Vacation, but my most fond memories (in spite of the incident with my English-edition, Eye-Witness travel guide) are those we made with the kids that summer.  Perhaps, it was because we were all so eager, and yes, a bit naive, but Ireland just never seemed quite as quaint to me after that.

Apparently, I wasn't the only one with fond memories.  For years after that trip, whenever somebody offered a greeting, or a nod of the head, Rick would immediately respond the way the Irish did, with a smile, and the words, "All the best!"  

May you be in heaven, an hour before the devil knows your dead.

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