Kelly Epperson: Still dreaming of a trip to Ireland

Kelly Epperson

My Irish friend, PJ, says no one in Ireland drinks green beer. And he says they don’t sing “Danny Boy” either. The locals do sing in the pubs though. Or so I am told. In fact, I’ve been told that Ireland is a magical, mystical place. One frequent visitor says that a feeling of calm and peace washes over you as the plane descends into the land of green acres.

This gal also claimed that hanging in the pubs is uplifting: They are not drunk, she says. They’re happy. I know little of lucky charms, rainbows and leprechauns. All I know is that I wanted to go to Ireland. Make that present tense: I still want to go.

Several months ago, PJ threw out the idea that we should have a group trip to his homeland. He and his wife had done a motorcycle trip several years ago, and they thought it would be fun to take a group of Americans on tour of the beautiful Irish countryside and sights.

I was an immediate, “Yes, let’s do it.” My job was to play "Julie the Cruise Director." I offered up the idea via this column and we had nearly 100 people interested. That was too many. We wanted fun and friendships and frolic, not a herd of cattle. Or since it is Ireland we are talking about, it would be sheep.

We assumed we would cut it off at 50 people so we could all fit in one motorcoach. Then a little something happened. The economy tanked. Nose dived. Hit bottom. Whatever term you want to use, the financial world turned upside down.

A trip to Ireland that once was an exciting vacation destination became a luxury not many people were willing to cough up the bucks to go see. I understand. Believe me, I understand.

We needed just 15 people to commit to the trip to get the group price. Couldn’t get ‘em. Darn economy messing up my trip plans. I am disappointed, but I think many of my potential fellow travelers were more so. My heart goes out to them.

I know in my heart that I will go. Someday. I'm not sure when. I want to see the rolling green. I want to experience the famous pubs and the locals and the singing and the friendliness. I want to wander old cemeteries. I want to wander. And I will.

My retirement fund has time to recover since my golden years are still a ways off. I want these next years to be green years. Kelly green. Cash to cover my travel expenses.

Will I spend a night in a castle? Maybe. Will I kiss the Blarney Stone? Probably not. Will I drink a Guinness that took the barman two minutes to pour? Yes, indeed.

I can travel in my imagination, and one of these days, I will travel in the flesh. I will take you all with me. Photos and words to document the journey. Ah, sounds like a business trip to me now. Hmm, maybe I should call the airlines ….

I feel Irish eyes are smiling. The luck of the Irish is with me. I’m going to buy a box of Lucky Charms and some Irish Spring soap. We’ll see what rubs off. Cheers!

Journal-Standard contributor Kelly Epperson is “thinking green” here and abroad. Write kel_epperson@yahoo.com, P.O. Box 2324, Loves Park IL 61131 or www.whenlifestinks.com.