I hope this note finds you well.
As many of you know Annette and I began the journey toward retirement from medicine six months ago. My last day of work in the office at Family Practice Associates was Thanksgiving of last year. She withdrew from her eye surgery practice the first of January but continued to work a few odd days during the spring. Again, as many of you know we both thoroughly enjoy travel and have traveled quite a bit over the years.
For the last several years we have thought about an extended trip to Ireland and as things worked out this turned out to be the year. During May and June we spent four weeks hiking and biking around that lovely green place.
The first part of the trip we spent hiking around the Ring of Kerry, the Beara and Dingle peninsulas. The rock-walled green fields, the views of the rugged countryside dropping off into the sea and the vistas from the MacGillycuddy’s Reeks (mountains) and Dunloe’s Pass are almost magical.
At the end of May we returned to the city of Cork and ran the Cork Marathon. On June 2nd, along with 5000 Irish men and women, we ran through the streets of this city built over the River Lee. This was one of the times when we were extracted from the tourist mode and were simply one with the crowd. As long as I kept my mouth shut and didn’t talk I was just another grey-headed old man with SAM written on my race bib running the streets of Cork. One of the most important assets of this small country is its people. From the smallest village to the larger cities like Cork and Dublin the people were wonderfully nice. Throughout the marathon I heard my name recited back to me a thousand of times.
Cork is on the southeast corner of the republic and is the seaport where many of our Irish and Scotch-Irish ancestors disembarked for the United States back in the 19th century. A short thirty minute train ride from city center is the village of Cobh (pronounced Cove) where the large ships docked and many of the poor and disenfranchised of Ireland set sail for the United States, Canada and Australia. Even if genealogy isn’t one of your passions, this place will spark an interest in who you are and where you came from.
The last two weeks of our trip were spent riding bicycles along the west coast. From Shannon up to the Loch Inagh in the Connemara we meandered through the countryside, going from one small village to the next on our bicycles. Most of the roads were narrow paved paths with tall scrubs that grew right up to the edge of the pavement. It didn’t rain on us many days but when it did the combination of light rain and wind created a sense of solitude that was strangely comforting.
I once described my father as a wonderful laughing leprechaun and my mother as the quietest of wood nymphs. I am a little sad they never saw Ireland because they would have felt at home.
Have a good journey.