Reality Bites by James A. Norton

It’s good to be home, of course…but if we could have stayed…oh the possibilities.

Contrary to popular belief, I don’t like living my private life in a public forum, but in the case of my new-found happy life, I will make exception when it comes to sharing my joy with others. As you may have read in the pages of this most excellent newspaper at the very end of this past year, I was married to the love of my life – a local girl who completes me in every possible way. I don’t need to go on and on about how much I love her, she knows. That being said, at the time, we went on a short honeymoon through the change of years in Maine – and we finally went on our official honeymoon to Ireland recently (explains why you haven’t read a new column of mine for a couple of weeks). It was the smart choice, because typically it makes no sense to go there at the end of December, although considering the Winter we had here and up until this past week, it might not have been a bad choice then.

Turns out we were completely right when we chose to go in late May – the weather in Ireland was magical – it barely rained, and was relatively warm – much warmer than here, that’s for sure. We never once had to wear a raincoat, or any coat, for that matter – and the temperature never went up or down more than 10 degrees in any direction, day or night. Speaking of night – I have been to Ireland before, but had no idea the sun rose at 5:30am every morning and went down at 10:30pm. That’s a very long day and quite surreal at 10pm with full light out and nobody to be found, except in a local Pub, where everyone over 18 in the entire town could be found every night.

We did a mini-tour of the country – staying in Bed & Breakfasts in a loop from Dublin, up into Northern Ireland, back into the Republic on the West Coast, traveling down through Donegal and Cong and then turning East when we reached the Lower Salthill of Galway, across the most beautiful interior countryside ever (sue me I am biased) – and ending up in Tullamore before returning home. We both wished we could have stayed and brought our loved ones there – not because we hate it here – far from it, but because it was just that awesome there.

Every single person we met was delightful and every place we visited or just stopped at to take pictures and soak in the moments as they past, was spectacular. So many breathtaking moments and scenes to behold it’s truly hard to put into words – we were determined not to fall victim to the typical party hard mantra that becomes a honeymoon – but make each moment count. We rented a car and drove from place to place – having the freedom to make our own discoveries far off the beaten path that is the typical tourists dream.

The driving itself was long and strenuous – 850 kilometers (roughly 530 miles) in direct travel from point to point, not counting any side driving to places not on the readily available visitor/tourist maps. In a tiny car with the steering wheel on the wrong side, driving on the wrong side of the road – with roundabouts (rotaries for you and me here in America) every 500 meters, tiny roads that two cars traveling at frightening speeds in opposite directions somehow fit on (and sometimes didn’t – a whole other column can be written about that) – and oh yeah, the car was manual shift. The whole driving thing took several years off my life, but I wouldn’t have wanted to have done it any other way…it was as much of the purity and essence of the trip as anything else could have been.

In the midst of putting together several fiction and non-fiction stories at the same time, it occurs to me that I should write about this trip, this journey, this beautiful honeymoon – the emotions of the relationship aside, the entire 8 days was a tempest of wonderment and truly joyous emotion in and of itself. I have been asked by Trip Advisor to document our travels and I plan on doing it a completely collaborative fashion with my lovely wife Lynda. It will be yet another step in this love affair and the journey it has taken us on – and will continue to take us on through the rest of our days.

And on that note, I end with a Gaelic phrase quite fitting for the moment: Maireann la go ruaig ach maireann an gra go huaigh – A day lasts until it’s chased away, but love lasts until the grave. #GMK

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