I have just a smidgen of Irish in me on my south side Chicagoan dad’s side. He was mostly Polish but in many ways he identified– or wanted to identify– with the Irish him although it was American Irish: corned beef sandwiches and the taunting every St. Patrick’s Day that we were all to trek to city hall downtown Chicago and have our rear ends painted green.
But I don’t identify with being Irish myself. Two weeks ago Greg and I set off to spend a week in Ireland, my third trip there, but it wasn’t about stepping foot where my ancestors did or seeking out family history like many Americans who go there do. I can still remember sitting in the departure lounge at the end of my first trip watching all the Americans drinking bottles of Guinness at 10:00 in the morning.
That’s not Ireland to me.
Two of my three trips to Ireland took me there for speaking gigs and this one was the offshoot of a speaking gig in England because there was something else I wanted to do: spend some time on one of the Blasket Islands.
But it’s also because I am always inspired by the places I go. My first fiction novel, The Australian Pen Pal, only could have been written because of my trips to Australia. By going to places, I experience the people, culture, and the physical place itself. For me, I can’t write about a place without having been there. And this trip had one new place (a blog to come somewhere down the line after it’s incorporated into the novel I’m working on) plus returning to Dingle, Ireland. I wanted to do the drive around the area again, just make sure what I remembered is what is there– at least through my eyes. And it also gave me more details to add to the future story where it will be included. The richness of detail is that transports my readers into places they might never have been.
So while many Americans are off exploring Ireland to step where their ancestors did, I’m thinking about my characters and how Ireland might have shaped their lives in some way.
Tags inspiration, ireland, dingle, blasket islands, writing, writing life, fiction, novel, writer, author, travel