Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: Donegal, Greencastle, Holiday, Ireland, love, place, tourism, Travel, Vacation
It’s the tourist’s dream: a popular area, talked about the world over, empty, quiet, with no rush. Just you and the landscape. No hustle, no impatience, no noise. That’s Greencastle, Co. Donegal in the winter. But that’s not why I fell in love. Sure, having it all to ourselves helped, but it wasn’t the landscape or even the history, no, it was the sense of contentment.
There is little doubt that we were tourists – in a one street town, we still walked past the same grocery store four times, much to the amusement of the owner, trying to find the Shore Walk path to Moville – but we didn’t feel unwelcome or even out of place.
No, this was a holiday and not a vacation. A difference in word, but a difference in feel too. Vacation has always involved a schedule or even forced relaxation (although, I’m not sure if I’ve ever experienced a vacation designed just for relaxation) combined with a sense of purpose. We are here to see this. A holiday, I discovered – or at least as I decided to repurpose the commonly used word – is when you go somewhere and feel it, but don’t exactly see much of anything.
And that’s what this was. A lot of walking the landscape and feeling the cold through the mittens, scarves and hats. There was a sense of being helpless in the face of dusk on an unfamiliar path and a sense of being powerful standing in front of the lit fire, kindling of wood in hand.
But more than the long walks, the pints of beer in wood-paneled pubs and the fresh seafood dinner, Greencastle is where I finally fell in love with Ireland as a place. Boyfriend, heritage and lore aside, I experienced Ireland on its own terms – and even in a rugged, sea swept environment, it was calming.
It’s a funny feeling to love a place, because, as Ernest Hemingway said about Paris, “for wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” I’ve loved many places, including Paris, and they do stay with you and shape you. I’m glad to have Ireland as one of those places.
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