Picture this: we sit on a flight for eight hours, we eat some surprisingly spicy chicken, then we sit on a bus for two more hours. Then two more. Then two more. Then two more.
Our descent into Dublin was my first round of firsts in this wonderful country. My first sheep spotted, my first exposure to the Irish (referred to in the U.S. as “Gaelic”) language, my first Cranberries song listened to on Irish soil.
As we slowly made our way through immigration and as we slowly got our bags from the carousel, we got our first metaphorical taste of Ireland.
Then we took a short bus ride to the Maldron Hotel where we had our first literal taste of Ireland. This came as a shock to me, as I was not expecting chicken curry at 4:00 am Milwaukee time. But I didn’t complain much, just a little bit.
Then came my favorite part of the trip. The bus tour of Belfast. It is one thing to read about its history; it is another thing to look out of a window and see it. So much has happened in the last 100 years on the grounds of this Island. So many wars and lives lost.
You can feel the heartbreak in the murals the people paint on the walls. You can feel it as you read all the messages on the wall of peace, calling for it to be torn down, rebuilt, and everything in between. You can feel it as you see the flags people fly on their houses, identifying with a home. You can feel it in the stark divisions of one city, of one Ireland.
And it is so important to feel it. To experience the past in your fingertips. To have it engraved in your conscious of what has walked before you.
We circled around Belfast, eventually landing at the cutest restaurant, Granny Annie’s Kitchen with live music- banjo, guitar, and accordion. The food was more predictable this time around. Chicken with gravy and mashed potatoes. Absolute classic. Didn’t complain at all, not even a little bit.
The best part about tonight was the band playing Irish Washerwoman, our encore piece which we will be playing tomorrow at Ulster Hall. All of us perked up. We listened, we smiled, we danced. That music, played by musicians from our new home, brought us a new light at the start of our journey.