The overwhelming sense of awe at the sight a smell of thousands upon thousands of ancient books in Trinity College’s old library.
The smell of roasting barley coming from the Guiness Brewery, which our apartment was down the street from.
The first sights, sounds and smells of true Spring we were treated to after a very long, hard winter.
The feeling of connecting with a huge swath of my ancestors when we arrived in Cork and saw my great-grandmother’s maiden name everywhere.
The kindness of the caretaker at Saint Fin Barr’s Cathedral who turned on the lights in the church when he saw me taking photo after photo of the place where my great-grandmother’s family more than likely spent time in prayer.
The endless views of impeccably kept famers fields and how green they were, even so early in the season.
The understanding I gained for the pain that my ancestors must have felt when they made the difficult decision to leave such a beautiful country.
How priveleged I felt to visit Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, sites of burial and worship that are more ancient than both Stonehenge and the pyramids of Egypt.
The hope I felt upon seeing a single, tiny purple flower growing out of the wall of the Elizabeth Fort in Cork. I saw myself in that flower.
The sense of belonging I felt, almost as soon as we arrived. I felt quite at home in magical, mystical, misty Ireland.
If you have Irish roots, I cannot encourage you enough to go visit Ireland, no matter how long ago your family came over. I had one Irish great-grandmother whose parents came over to Quebec in the late 19th Century. She was a Lynch and they were from Cork. I had another great-grandmother who was half Irish and half Scottish. Her father was a Malloy and we unfortunately know much less about her Irish ancestry. Regardless of this, I still felt a strong link to Ireland and its people, namely because for the first time in my life I found myself in country filled with short, pale-skinned, freckled folk with reddish, dirty blonde hair and blue eyes. I grew tearful when I realised just how Irish I actually look. Never lose your connection to your ancestry and if you can, visit the country your family has roots in. You will never be sorry you did.