Monday, October 12, 2015
Certain seasons hold special memories for some people, and October and I have a long history of remembrances. Today, though, I won't be reaching back through the decades, but only one year into the past: to October, 2014, when a group of our extended family got to spend three weeks in the Stevens family's ancestral homeland, Ireland.
I don't know what it was that prompted me to get into this melancholy mood. Maybe it was the tweets and blog posts about Genetic Genealogy Ireland that got me started remembering. After all, our trip last year just happened to coincide with Ireland's primary genealogy conference, billed as Back to Our Past, which just concluded yesterday evening. Last year, we were there.
It wasn't just the Genetic Genealogy Ireland conference that got me reminiscing, however. It was the entire adventure I was recalling, starting on the first day when we landed in Dublin and ended up that exhausting afternoon when I lost my iPad—which, thanks to Ireland's version of a kind guardian angel, was returned to me—all the way up to my last frantic sweep through the National Library of Ireland before its noontime closing on the last Saturday of our trip. Today, for instance, is exactly one year after the realization of Castle Fatigue set in for us, as we attempted to locate the obscure townland of my husband's Kelly ancestors in County Kerry. There were castles and abbeys and ruins everywhere. Every crumbling stack of stones seemed to have historic significance.
Leaving Ireland without completing my research run through those impossible-to-read Catholic Church microfilms was hard—of course, somewhat mitigated by the fact that that same microfilm collection is now available online—but that is not the reason I've been moping about the last few days. Perhaps it is in recalling all the beauty, all the kindnesses, all the irresistible mystique about the mood of that emerald isle that I feel a drawing to return. Soon.
No, I don't have any plans to do so, although that would be sweet—and handy for those as-yet-uncompleted research goals. But I sure wouldn't mind it if I found myself offered the opportunity to do so. There is just something special about that place. I can understand why Ireland's children who left never forgot their homeland. After just a three week visit, neither can I.
Above: On our return drive along the Wild Atlantic Way from Portmagee through County Kerry, we spotted no less than seven different rainbows that afternoon. There are visible benefits to such a place with so much rain. Photo courtesy Chris Stevens.