Ireland

So right about now you are probably wondering: What's  Ireland got to do with any of this?

At first, I went to Ireland for travel writing assignments, a good place to swap houses, and my family's Celtic heritage. I didn't go for the weather, but fell in love with the landscape and the people and the Smithwicks and most of all the crazy, wonderful unpredictability of every single trip. 

 

So I went back, and back, and back again to...

 

* Coach memoir clients in County Kerry * Interview amazing people for my YouTube channel, "Dispatches From Ireland" * Pray that if I run into anyone it will be for a bit of a chat and not cause bodily harm * Run Writing-Out-of-the-Box on the other side of the Atlantic as well as at home in Boston * Rent a wonderful house on the Finnehy River * Have lunch with the fabulous women of the left-hand booth at the back of the Purple Heather * See Skellig Michael again * Take cooking classes at Ballymaloe * Visit stately homes and have tea and scones in the courtyard * Revisit the donkeys in the hilly refuge adjacent to the Buddhist Retreat in West Cork * Bring Americans and Irish together -- we Yanks call it fun, but in Ireland it translates to the craic is mighty!

Here is Rocky, headed to the Bookstop Vegetarian Cafe to see what's cooking. Good luck to him finding a pig's ear! 

My home-away-from-home

A hundred years ago my paternal grandparents left Ireland hoping for a better life in America. Because of the Tobins, I have dual citizenship today.

Here is a shot of my friend Polly the time we swapped my house in Bedford for one on the Dingle Peninsula. From there we could see cliffs known as the Three Sisters (above). Trading houses through Intervac is always an adventure, along with the usual Irish fun: driving through Connor Pass, dodging sheep or trying to see if rough seas would calm enough to get us to get to Skellig Michael, the ancient island monastery seen in Star Wars. 

It's not just about the meditation at Dzogchen Beara Buddist Retreat: While you're in West Cork, visit the Sarah Walker Gallery nearby, stay at Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat, stop for a pint at the original McCarthy's Pub, let Mary Maddison do a psychic reading for you, or just cuddle the donkeys. 

Here are the Aces, Class of 1966, toasting with the poitin we learned to make from Stevie  O'Sullivan at Molly Gallivan's 18th-century cottage in Bonane.