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Ireland (Part 1)

September 5, 2012

Don wrote:

My father’s family did not seek out Iowa, deliberately coveting its rich land. Earlier, in Europe, my Scottish forebears had been part of the 18th century migration to Ireland when  Scots were actively recruited by the English crown to settle in Ireland and help subdue the rebellious Irish peasants. Subsequently, in Ireland, along with the natives, they were starved out by the great Potato Famine of the 1840s and many fled to America, settling in the Appalachian Mountains. My father’s grandparents, (both with the surname Gibson, curiously enough) met and married in Ireland and moved shortly thereafter to Wheeling, West Virginia, where they gave birth to a single son named Harry.

It was Harry, Don’s paternal grandfather, who accidentally moved to Iowa and settled as a reluctant farmer. With this background information, Don had told me many times how his father wanted to be known as “Irish,” but Don always told his dad that they were Scottish-Irish.

A trip to Ireland was one of the priority items on our “what to do” list when we reached seventy and declared ourselves “retired.” Well, Don reached seventy, but he had to travel elsewhere alone before he could go to Ireland with me.

I didn’t think I could ever go to all those places where we had planned to travel together.  But last October, I ventured a month long stay in Tuscany, something else we had talked about. This year, it was Ireland. I wanted to travel to Ireland with Don, invisible as he was.

It was an experience that I will cherish all the remaining days of my life.  I want to share my feelings of that country for the next few posts.

Ireland to me was the land of fields and hills, on which shades of green were multiplied by plentiful rainfall. The green patches on the hills and fields were more beautiful than any quilts I’ve ever seen. Nature’s quilts! In some ways, they reminded me of Korean rice paddies; hence emotion, already full, burst open in my chest as I rode in the car driven by my friend, Virginia. On those green pastures and meadows, sheep grazed, ponies sat in clam meditation, horses and cows wandered as if royal clans in quiet competition.

On the Way to the Cliffs of Moher

Sometimes we stopped and walked around. Often the scent of grass brought my feet to a stop, inviting me to linger and breathe deeply into my lungs the rain-washed air. I listened to the thumping of my heart beneath the rock and grass until tranquility silenced every sound. Then, I could hear Don’s breathing, no longer panting and short of breath, but deep and satisfying.

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