Everyone has a dream,

a thing they wish for, they say, " if only I could..." for me that dream has been to travel to Ireland. I have wanted to go for around fifteen years, since my parents traveled there in the mid-1980's. My mother's family originally came from Ireland, and the music and culture has always fascinated my wife Mary and I.

Money matters, taking care of business at Foxfire, family illnesses, everything always kept us from going. It was always "we can't go this year, but for sure we will next year", for year after year.

So it wasn't just a vacation, but a dream come true when we visited Ireland in August 2001. Along with long time friend Gary, Mary and I toured the Guinness brewery in Dublin, visited castles in Dunmaise and Cashel, sought out stone circles and ruins on the south coast, had a rare bit of "craic" (lively conversation) in a pub in Cork, and drove the ring of Kerry. We visited a restored castle in Ennis, stood atop 600 foot cliffs over the sea, and marvelled at 3000 year old stone monuments. On the tiny Aran Islands we visited the ancient stone fort of Don Anghosa and I bought an Arans fisherman's sweater. Galway city held music, quaint streets, and a very international population. On our way back to Dublin, we found Dowth, an ancient tomb, traditionally called a fairy mound in the belief that the Tuatha de Danann lived underground there.

America owes much of her cultural heritage to Ireland because of the quantities of people who emigrated here and still do so. When visiting Ireland, the Irish themselves are friendly but somewhat indifferent to European tourists, but when they find out you're from the United States, they treat you like a long lost cousin. I think it's rather indicative that the American Ambassador's residence is situated next to the Irish President's house, by themselves in a large and beautiful park in Dublin.

In any case, a wonderful time was had by all. I myself feel fulfilled and content. These artworks reflect my impressions of Ireland.

Slainte, Michael "Mulally" Babinski


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