As an expat, you can easily get in the rut of complaining about your new residence. Living in a different country is a new experience around every corner and not all of them are positive. Also, even little inconveniences can seem huge when you are far from familiar faces and customs. I'm definitely guilty of doing my fair share of expat complaining. But the truth is, I wouldn't trade a day of it. Okay, maybe I'd be alright losing a couple of the snowed/iced-in days while being 8 months pregnant. But even those challenging days provided an opportunity to experience a different way of life than what I have always known. Moving to Ireland has been a traveling opportunity, an adventure for the early years of my marriage, and, I hope, most of all a growing experience.
There are things I won't miss. The cold, biting wind of winter being at the top of the list. The unjustifiably high cost of living is a close second. However, Ireland has given me such great memories. I will never forget my first visit to my Irish cousins and seeing the house and countryside where my great-great grandmother Alice grew up. I am thankful that my grandmother and great-grandmother managed to maintain relationships through the generations with "the old country" though neither of them ever had the opportunity to make the trip back themselves.
A part of my heart will always be in the rocky fields and sheep-filled hills of Connemara. The love-inspired chapel at Kylemore Abbey stands out as well. I will never forget our delicious seafood dinners on the Cork coast in Kinsale or the Kerry creamery Murphy's ice cream in Dingle. I loved living mythology at Giants Causeway, seeing ancient wisdom at Newgrange and bog-jumping with the mummies in Wicklow. And even though I never got the chance to play the great links courses of Ireland, just seeing them is enough to inspire me to keep learning the frustrating game.
Of course there are the little things that make Ireland irresistible to visitors worldwide. There is the velvety black stuff flowing freely at all of the hundreds of tiny character-filled pubs, little old men in mismatched tweed suits, and the never-wanting-for-conversation people who welcome all visitors with open arms. It is all these things, great and small, that I will remember and cherish about my time in Ireland. Ireland isn't a large place, but it is full of beautiful places, unforgettable people and many histories. As much as we got to do and see and the people we got to know and love, I will always feel there is more of Ireland to discover.
And, of course, Ireland is where Harris was born. Without our Irish adventure we wouldn't have been blessed with such a joyful child. So Ireland will always be a part of us. We will always be the Irish Taruns.