Céad Míle Fáilte

My name is Carrie. Currently, I live in the United States, with only a few months left. I have two college degrees. My bachelor’s in English Lit, with a Creative Writing minor, and a Master’s in Writing Studies. While I was still taking classes for my Master’s, I used my expertise to teach first level writing classes. In these, I focused on showing the students how to take assignments and finagle them to fit into their passions and majors. I developed a love for research and finding new things and used that to add weight to my fiction and used my fiction to add creativity to my research. I’ve had a passion for reading and writing since I could spell, and probably before then as well. My mother worked at the local library and when my sisters, Corrie and Callie, and I would visit we’d fight over who got to play with the electric typewriter. It was so fun to sit in the rolly chair and click click click as the paper moved to the left, then hitting the button that sent it careening to the right. We felt like such grownups. I wrote stories about my favorite heroines, making them look like me. Snow White had light caramel colored skin with a head full of thick bouncy curls that everyone envied. I melted into Cinderella as the eldest of three girls and my sisters being twins, easily fit the ugly stepsisters. I had an affinity for animals and in my little mind, I spoke to them just the way they spoke to Cinderelly. I was destined to be a literature and writing major. But with all that behind me, I’ve been floundering around trying to find myself and who I am.

Kevin has always loved reading and writing. He once thought about making that his focus in school, but instead followed in his family’s footsteps. He is currently a mechanic and renaissance man at his father’s company. Kevin fixes all the mechanical things as well as helps with paperwork and other things. The business owns a few peat bogs where they dig and cut the peat for mushroom farms to use in their fertilizing process, and too many other places that use peat. Kevin has two of the currently nine Arabian horses that the family owns, so they take up his time and energy as well. He also has begun dabbling in metal works. He designed and built the stairs in our home and wants to branch out into statues and other metal things. Kevin found me in the most fairytale way.

October 2017, my cousin Chad, Corrie, two friends, Tonya and Sierra, and I went on a magical trip to Ireland. Chad and I had previously gone to Mexico and wanted to branch out on an even bigger adventure. We rented a car and hit all the major tourist places: Belfast and the Titanic Museum (we even had a meal in the Titanic drawing room); The Giant’s Causeway and Carrick-a-Rede; Monaghan and Leslie Castle; Dublin and the pubs, St Patrick’s Cathedral; Tipperary and Waterford; The Cliffs of Moher and the Ring of Kerry. The people we encountered were more than helpful and great craic (fun). Adjusting to driving on the other side of the road on the other side of the car tripped us up a few times. The trip was life-changing.

At the end of our first week, two in our group were returning back to the States and we were getting a new friend landing from Germany.  We spent two of our days walking around Dublin. On the third day, on the way out of the city, we stopped to get something to eat in a pub. Luckily this one served food. A few days before, in Monaghan, we stopped at a pub for dinner. This place only had alcohol and Pringles. We didn’t want to be rude, so we ordered a drink. A really drunk guy came up to us all smiles. He asked Tonya if he could buy her a drink and have a chat at another table. Tonya turned beet-red because she had a boyfriend and she didn’t know what to do. I was two seats over cackling at his excitedly goofy face and her embarrassment while trying to nicely turn him down. He struck up a conversation about who we were and what we were doing there, then asked each of us girls if we’d like a drink (he was turned down). For the next few days that was a little highlight for us.

Well, at the pub outside Dublin, we sat there waiting for our meal when a redheaded Irishman walked to our table once again. Uh-ohs were whispered under our breaths as we caught his direction. To my complete surprise, he came up to me and asked if he could buy me a drink. In complete vacation mode, thinking of Stella’s groove, I said yes. I moved to an empty table with him.  We talked while I ate. While the others finished their meal, the Irish guy (Kevin…so Irish) and I went to the shop next door. We traded social media and parted ways.

For the rest of the trip, Kevin messaged me every day with tips and hidden places to go. The night before we flew back home, Kevin drove over two hours to see me one last time, bearing gifts: Penguins (chocolate covered chocolate cookies), a naggin (small bottle) of Jameson, and a bottle of TK Red Lemonade to mix with the Jameson. He wanted to send me off with some real Irish things. Those little gestures had a piece of my heart. We talked every day on video chats and messages.

I returned to Ireland the following March for two weeks and fell in love. Kevin greeted me at the airport with a sign reading “céad míle fáilte”, a hundred thousand welcomes, an Irish greeting and blessing to those new to the country. We saw the sights of Sligo, Yeats’ grave, Ben Bulben, waterfalls, the Arigna Mines, Strandhill, Rathcrogan and learned about Queen Maebh, and down to a friend’s house in Cork. Kevin took me to his favorite island, Achill, where we drove around and saw sheep on ledges and in the middle of roads, not caring about cars driving barreling towards them. I met his entire family: grandma, aunts, uncles, and cousins at his niece’s Christening. I feed his Arabian horses while he mucked their stalls. These two weeks were the most exercise I’d had since my first visit. All the beautiful things and places are far from their parking; probably in an effort to preserve the site, but I huffed and puffed and took breaks that let me take in the sights even more. I tasted new food, bacon and cabbage is by far my favorite. He helped to open my newly broadening world. One day we walked a little way to the beautiful Glencar Waterfall and on the way down he said, “It’s great to see all these places through the eyes of someone I love”. Love? He said he loved me. I thought back to all the kisses, me waiting for our nightly talk (five-hour time difference is hard at times) and how open and comfortable I was with him, his blue eyes that were always searching. I realized I loved him too.

After that trip, Kevin and I planned his trip to visit me and my family. He came for two weeks and met my entire family. We went to Kentucky to see the horse attractions and Darley Farms, where we had our own horse parade by a friend of his back home. I went back to Ireland with Kevin and spent another five weeks with him, learning more about him and more about myself and a different kind of me. A me where I could make my own decisions and be the lead, not where I had to live to the expectations of others and do what I thought my family wanted me to do.

On my last day of this trip, we went back to Achill Island. The air was so warm and the sun was shining so brightly, sparkling on the open ocean. We walked the beach, waves lapping my boots, the Atlantic too cold for bare feet. We watched a crazy family descend the walkway, strip to their swimsuits and rush the waves, diving below the water and back out and to their car. We rested on giant boulders watching the waves come in and out, the beach was just ours once again. The sound of waves rushing the beach, crashing against the cove’s sides is utterly calming and amazing. Kevin sat on a rock a little to my right. He was watching me while I watched the water. “What?” I asked. He shook his head, saying nothing. He kept staring until finally said, “Can I ask you something?” I thought he was going to ask me if he could come to visit for Thanksgiving; he loves turkey and getting two turkey meals in a row (his mom makes it for Christmas) was an amazing thing for him. “Can I have a hug?” what a weird and strange question, “Sure”. I was still sitting on my giant boulder, he looked down “will you marry me?” I shrieked and squeezed his face in my hands, too excited. I screamed yes as we hugged and kissed. Yes. Yes.

My life is changing drastically for the better. We are getting married soon. I am leaving everything and everyone I know to be with my husband. I, a city girl am moving to rural Ireland, to a new home, horses, and a new life. This blog will, hopefully, be a place where I can share our life with family as well as whoever stumbles upon it and becomes intrigued. I will post not just about our life but about the new things, people, places I encounter. This will also be a place with research and information about historical Irish people, places, traditions, and customs. We have our own hundred thousand blessing to look forward to.

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