Reflection and going home

19 April 2016 Tuesday morning

Fortunately I had said my goodbyes to my fellow travelers at our farewell dinner last night, because I was so exhausted that I slept through my alarm.  The Rhode Island contingent was lucky; our flight wasn’t due to depart until 4:30 pm this afternoon, so that allowed us time this morning for a leisurely breakfast, rest and reflection.

I had breakfast with Bob, then finished packing and then decided to go for a walk and explore the town of Dunboyne, where our hotel, Dunboyne Castle was located. The proximity of the town to Dublin (and a bus that will take you there) no doubt allows residents of the town to commute to Dublin for work. The high street area is small, but features a pub, a few restaurants, a school and two churches. I was able to go inside the larger of the two churches, its interior was modern.  I explored the older of the two churches, St. Peter’s, a Church of Ireland church; it was smaller and was associated with a small graveyard and a school.  I wasn’t able to go inside, unfortunately.  The churchyard was quiet and peaceful, despite its close proximity to the high street.

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Returning to my room at the hotel, I opened the window to let in the sun and the breeze, made myself a cup of tea, and reflected upon my journey to Ireland.

There were 44 of us, from all over the United States—Washington state, Montana, Texas, New Jersey and Rhode Island. The Rhode Island contingent were Protestants; everyone else on the tour was Catholic. We traveled as guests of a major tour company, and our fabulous guides took care of every single detail of our journey.

We traveled together on a single coach, stayed at the same hotels, ate meals together, visited the sites in Ireland together, and learned all about Irish history together. We were Protestants and Catholics, young and old, liberals and conservatives, residents of large cities and small towns. In the current polarizing political climate where compromise and common ground seem impossible, it was very impressive that our group could learn about the atrocities our ancestors inflicted on one another while at the same time treating each other with kindness and respect. Some of us were acquainted with one another before the trip and others of us did not know each other at all, but we parted as friends, with hugs, best wishes, and promises to get together the next time our paths crossed.

There are many essays on the web written by adventurers who write very eloquently about their reasons for traveling.  Why do we travel? It opens our eyes, it educates and challenges us, it helps us discover things about ourselves, we create meaningful relationships. I learned that I could appreciate and even cherish people whose world view was different from mine. I learned to find the positive—appreciating the rich cultural and historical lessons provided to us by our fabulous guide as our coach flew along the Irish highways—rather than complaining that I didn’t have enough time to explore all of the sites at our previous stop. And finally, I feel more of a connection to my ancestors, who suffered so much and courageously made the trip across the Atlantic to build a better life for themselves and their children.

Fellow travelers, I miss you already—and if your travels ever take you to Rhode Island, please come to visit us!

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