Last week's blog was written by a friend who took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to France and the British Isles with her children and grandchildren. Be sure to check out last week's post if you missed it, as it had lots of tips and advice for making such a trip with three generations.
This week I'm including the family's reflections of that trip. Judye had sent me the impressions of various family members of that journey. You can judge for yourselves if such a trip would be worthwhile for you and your family. I'm voting, "YES!"
Learning about the many Celtic myths surrounding the Irish countryside was one of the most amazing parts of my trip.
It’s fascinating how the Irish population explains such phenomena as the natural rock formation, known as the Giant’s Causeway as being the result of an ancient war between the rival giants, where the giant named Finn McCool enraged the other to the point of destroying a stone bridge.
We also beheld a castle where Cuchulain is said to have lived after slaying a vicious hound and earning the honor of the local chieftan.
We saw rock formations said to have been caused by Oisin where he had apparently demonstrated his strength after he fell in love with a spirit of death and became the strongest man in all of Ireland.
In Ireland, the number of people who believe these stories even in the modern day is astounding.
The abstract knowledge of these stories’ existence would have been marvelous enough, but that awareness was reinforced by many sights witnessed throughout the trip.
Our guide, Allen would explain to us that there were many Hawthorne trees that farmers deliberately left standing in the center of their field, because of their fear of retaliation by the “fey-folk” said to inhabit them.
Every story felt more tangible because it was punctuated by the amazing views we were able to absorb throughout the course of our vacation.
I will always remember The Book of Kells and The Giant’s Causeway and I will always carry stories of Finn McCool, Cuchulain, and Oisin with me wherever I go.
My favorite part of the trip was our boat tour in Cobh, Ireland. We all went out on a small motorboat through Cobh Harbour and around the little surrounding archipelago. Our tour guide gave us the historical background of our surroundings and took us around the islands to see the wildlife – he even pulled a moon jellyfish out of the water so we could get a closer look. He then took us to the nearby village of Crosshaven, where he lived, to get Irish coffees in a local pub. He was a great tour guide, really convivial and the sights on our boat ride were breathtaking. It was a perfect intergenerational activity because the boat tour eliminated the difference in physical ability between family members, and we got to spend quality time with one another while also exploring Ireland.
I remember that the paintings all hung like big square eyeballs, and I remember that we looked up at all the ones we recognized and some we didn't and they all looked back down. We stood like broken columns, but they stared at us like we were made of fluted Ionic concrete, or something else that's so old we all might be its grandchildren, and they stared with a gaze like Greek fire, but not as hot, or like Hellenic steel, but not as strong. I remember that there was something archaic amidst us and the paintings, something that we never knew and the paintings had forgotten because it had passed it down to too many generations. Each big square eyelid closed heavier over the painting the more we looked, and it waited long to be revived the way that all art must. I remember thinking I was lucky that whatever museum this is, has so many centuries of these things, from artists whose names you hear your parents say, or their students, or their students' students. That's our reason to be here. But not everyone's, because sometimes the best part of a museum is watching other people, and our grandparents stood quietly like armless statues and looked at us the same way the paintings did.
And lastly, the grandfather's musings:
My experience on this trip can be described with three main elements. First, there was the raw awe- inspiring experience of seeing in person artistic masterpieces, historical relics and cultural icons that one has read about and studied, but never really expected to be able to see.
Secondly, there was for me special significance in our day trip to Achnacarry, the historical site of the Cameron Clan and home to the current Lochiel, Donald Cameron, Chief of the Clan, who invited us into his home and gave us a personal tour. My Mother gave me the name Donald Cameron and always told me is was a special name. For nearly 300 years, a Donald Cameron has been the Chief of the Cameron Clan. Standing on that land, visiting the little Cameron Museum, seeing and hearing the sense of history and family pride, I began to really appreciate what that connection to one's family history really means.
And finally, being able to watch my grandchildren and see their interest and excitement as they explored and learned and grew in their appreciation for the unique qualities as well as the commonalities of the different countries and cultures we visited was perhaps my most treasured experience from our trip. While we each got to choose the day excursions that we wanted that also meant that we had a variety of experiences to share when we returned back to our cruise ship each evening. And it is the sharing and retelling of our experience that really binds us all together.
I'm so appreciative of this family taking the time to write about their fabulous trip and sharing on this blog. I know I'm inspired to take our grandchildren to my husband's ancestral home in Scotland. Sending much gratitude to Judye and her husband, and their daughter, Arlette, and Judye's three grandchildren. Thanks again!
Last week's blog with all the great travel tips and planning--
Retired school teacher and now full time grandmother sharing ideas and looking for new ones about grandparenting!