Family visit snippets

Way back in November of 2022, when I first found out I would be travelling to Ireland for the subsequent year, my family was ecstatic. My Christmas presents were all Ireland themed, my brother exclusively cracked potato jokes for several months, and my grandmother called me once a week to ask me how excited I was. So unbridled was their enthusiasm on my behalf that “Ireland” lost its meaning to the erosive effects of repetition. Being the loving siblings that they are, my brother and sisters were quick to satirise the excitement myself and my family couldn’t keep down. Even my parents eventually got on board. No dinner table conversation was complete without somebody quipping, “did you know Zach is going to Ireland?” at the slightest mention of rain or something green. Until quite recently, seldom a Yahn could safely bring up the country without one of the four siblings (myself included, ashamedly) mocking them just for its mere mention. In fairness, jabs and jokes are our familial love language. 

All this to say, when my parents told me they were planning a family trip to come visit me, and that my sisters were over the moon to travel internationally for the first time, and that they were all so excited, and that they could hardly wait, I only had one thought . . . revenge. 

Did I inevitably cave to my own enthusiasm for them visiting me? Absolutely. Did I count down the days until their plane landed? Of course. But did I relish finally getting to tease them over their eagerness to visit Ireland? Wholeheartedly.

Their visit has come and gone now, and I’m missing home more than ever. But driving all over Ireland with them has been one of the best parts of my time here, and I’m so grateful they were able to come. Not to mention, I’ve got some great pictures to share. 

From what I can tell, one’s appreciation of Grafton Street and its tourist hotspot ilk tends to decay exponentially as a function of time spent as a resident in Ireland. More recently I’ve been prone to hastily weaving through the crowds, muttering my annoyance at the flocks of visitors (aspirationally Irish of me, I know). But seeing such places with the fresh eyes of my family was a reminder of how special it is to be living in Dublin at all, to even have the chance to become somewhat bored of that which would awe so many others. 

Of course, we also drove to countless places that required no such perspective reset to appreciate. Glenveagh National Park, for one, is startlingly barren. It’s one of those places where you want to stop walking every now and then, because your own footsteps are the only sounds keeping you from utter silence. Much to my delight, my family also got to experience the Irish weather first hand at Glenveagh, as the sky changed from clear blue to torrential downpour in the span of fifteen minutes. This while we were miles from the car too.

That same day we drove over to the Sliabh Liag cliffs in Donegal, which are easily the coolest place I’ve been in Ireland. The cliffs are the tallest in Europe, at three times the height of the Cliffs of Moher. You can drive to a car park nearly at the top, and then walk a path all the rest of the way up. My sisters and I braved the slope, at each landing taking in the view and deciding to go incrementally one level higher.

Eventually we reached the very top, and one of the best views I’ve ever seen. Dad took a picture of us on the ledge, but we’re so far away you can barely see us. Mom says we’re grounded for going so high.

Perhaps some of the most fun times were spontaneous “wait pull over and let’s take a photo” moments, or less-known spots that we learned about from BNB owners. 

We even tried to access a secret waterfall, but the tides were already too high by the time we got there. Still, we got to hop across stones like it was a platformer video game, timing things just right so that the waves didn’t wash us off.

In some spots of the country (read: the West coast) there were so many scenic points we didn’t even have time to stop at them all. Some I can name, like the Clifden Sky Road and Connemara National Park, and others I’ll only see again if I can carefully trace our route on a map.

Of course, every night we would find a pub to hole up in. Sometimes they would be nearly empty, like in the far reaches of Donegal, and sometimes they would be packed, like in Westport. It didn’t matter, though, because we had the one thing we needed to keep company: games (audience gasps). Exploding Kittens has recently become a family favourite, but various card games are always popular. We spent each night laughing and stabbing each other in the back, like we used to on family vacations before things like college and moving out got in the way. My sisters turn eighteen next month, marking the last family members to become legal adults. For my parents especially, that made those nights in pubs particularly important. 

I think by this point everyone realised they couldn’t really make fun of my living in Ireland anymore, as they had all become just as enamoured with the place over the past week. Instead,  Ireland is something we can collectively reminisce about. We can look back on getting drenched in the rain, or devouring a massive Cadbury bar, or trying to hug sheep, or even nearly crashing on the wrong side of the road, and share it for decades to come. Revenge is sweet.

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