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Family Vacation to Find Our Family

Joined: 7/13/2015
Posts: 5
The kids in our extended family were reaching high school and college age, and we decided to make one last big family trip with everyone. Twelve of us, aged 14 to 75, traveled to Ireland to keep a promise to my sister, who was making plans for a family trip when she died of cancer. She left the money in her will for all of us to go, and we spent 10 days coming face-to-face with the country that produced our great-grandparents and our grandfather. We rented three cars and three cell phones and kept in touch with each other as we drove through the countryside. Some toured the Guinness factory in Dublin, others enjoyed the museums and pubs. But we all made a point to stop in a couple of special places.
We drove to Northern Ireland to see the place where our grandfather was born. The home is no longer there, of course, but the current owner didn’t mind if we each took a small piece from the rock fence as a reminder of our visit.
In Roscommon, we found the spot where our maternal great-grandmother had lived with nine brothers and sisters. There is only a foundation there now—lots of stones and rubble—but enough for us to imagine why she might have left Ireland to come to the States.
There were plenty of things that surprised us. Ten days wasn’t enough to get used to driving on the left side of the oh-so-narrow curving roads, and we all agreed the Irish mapmakers could use a little help identifying their roads, especially the small ones.
We could have listened to our hosts talk about Irish history forever, and we were getting used to the idea of beer and Coca Cola served at room temperature. But, I don’t think we would have ever gotten used to the smell of burning peat.
We found that the Irish are some of the friendliest, kindest people we have ever met, even the ones who aren’t especially fond of U.S. foreign policy, our television programs or our “movie stars.”
It’s not likely we will all travel together again. The “kids” are too old to travel with mom and dad, and the adults felt the effects of aching joints and jet lag. But it was the trip of a lifetime, and we saw the places my sister had encourage us to visit.
We revisited those sites when we had our “Share the photos” party, and we still talk about that trip on holidays and special occasions. We offer toasts—to my sister and to those who left Ireland for a new life in the States so many years ago. We owe them all quite a debt of gratitude.
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Comment by warren

Joined: 6/22/2011
Posts: 293
What an interesting request, especially if it was actually included in your sister's will along with the funds. And how wonderful that it worked--and so well.
Posted: Sunday, August 30, 2015 8:01:17 PM
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Comment by thiegsr

Joined: 11/6/2008
Posts: 702
On behalf of the entire editorial board, I would like to congratulate you for your August Family Vacation Essay being selected as our first place adult essay!

We will be contacting you via your registration email for your prize details.

You can check this page for all the writing contest results::

Thanks for adding your voice to our mission “Changing the World . . . One Story at a Time” and feel free to share your accomplishment with the world.

Rebecca Thiegs Co-Founder and Education Consultant
Posted: Monday, September 21, 2015 3:41:55 PM
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