116. Ireland

Ireland: We started referring to this as our “vacation from Asia,” which causes a lot of unsympathetic eye rolling, but really was the truth. Our non-stop touring around Ireland was as soothing and easy as parking our butts on a tropical beach in The Philippines. Ireland will be our only real stop in Europe and it was a great choice.

Sloan: Ireland may be the West’s most attractive destination, the most delicious – and expensive – truffle in the European candy box. For me it was a literal and figurative breath of fresh, cool air after India, and I know it’s earned a spot in my top three on this trip for all the warm, drunk, fuzzy feelings it gave me. Foolishly, I expected it to be a little boring after the chaos and color of Asia when in fact, it turned out to be the perfect compliment in its contrast. I like to think that I live in America’s most beautiful state and it’s largely been true that most of the grandeur of the countries we’ve visited measures up to Oregon’s landscape, but Ireland took me off that pedestal. The sight of Ireland’s soaring sea cliffs, carpeted in plush green and sprinkled with sheep, knocked the wind out of me. And then I realized that it goes on and on, almost all the way around the island, at least the 4,000 km that we drove. Fantastic, you’d never want to stop moving if it weren’t for the people and the perfect liquor that you meet in every village. Love at every sight, I can’t imagine not coming back someday.

Amy: I still can’t believe I got to spend two months in Ireland. It was a dream come true and there wasn’t much that was going to dampen my mood. Many locals would apologize for the poor weather and then look at me cross when I told them how happy I was it was cold and raining. It felt like home – plus I finally got to wear the jeans, long sleeves and jackets I’d lugged around for 5 months.

Ireland has always held a very special place for me and apparently for millions of other Americans as well. It is said that even though there are only 6 million people living in Ireland there are over 34 million Americans who claim to be Irish. My mothers mom was born and raised in County Longford but I learned not to bring up my claim to the Emerald Isle because the natives are rightfully a little jaded by now about all the tourists who believe themselves to be Irish. When asked though I would fess up and gain a wee bit of street-cred for actually having at least one blood relative with a brogue. My Irish envy has only gotten worse though after seeing first-hand how beautiful the country is and how much fun the people are and how rich and interesting the many layers of Irish culture. Like many before me I felt like I was coming home when I landed in Ireland, whether the real Irish like it or not.

(Note: I would never have attempted Ireland on my own without the safety net the Coghlan family provided me. I’m quite grateful to Aisling and her family for all of their hospitality and generosity with the family dinners, two houses to crash in, and their thoroughly charming personalities. I look forward to returning the favor some day.)


  1. Charles says:

    Are you kidding? Did you paint that picture? Wow! That is beautiful.

    Hey, I met the Dalai Lama over vacation. How about that? He wears blue flip flops. Really.

  2. Sloan says:

    Fantastic. Does he give out any swag when you meet him, like little key chains that say “Free Tibet” or “I kept it on the DL with the DL?”