Here’s today’s assignment from Writing 101, Day 2: If you could zoom through space in the speed of light, what place would you go to right now? INSTANTLY, I thought of the cottage at the Croan Cottages in County Kilkenney, Ireland. I’m not kidding–instantly. I felt like I was home when I was there. It was only about 800 square feet. But it was in IRELAND. I’d wanted to go to Ireland since I was about eight years old, when there was an article in LIFE magazine. I would gaze at those pictures in the article, absolutely craving to smell the air, to see the rolling green hills dotted with baa-ing sheep and happy cows, to hear the brogue as people speak. I was sure my eventual husband would be an Irishman, so I could hear that brogue every day. Ha! The thoughts of an eight year old!!
For my 50th birthday, my wonderful (1/3 Irish) husband totally shocked me with the news that we were going to Ireland when school got out. OHMYGOODNESS. I couldn’t believe it. I was REALLY going to Ireland!!???!! With him and our son!!??!! Best. Present. Ever. Ever!! Bonus present: I got to plan everything! In my research, I kept coming back to County Kilkenny as the main area to explore. My soul was guiding me, I swear. It was perfect. If we ever get to go back, that’s where we’ll go. To Cabin #2 at the Croan Cottages. My heart and soul, my being, has never ever felt so whole as it did when we were there. Here’s my theory: in a previous life, as a young woman, I took a boat from County Kilkenny, Ireland to San Francisco, U.S.A. to find a new life. But Kilkenny was home. And I’d finally gotten to go back. I was honestly homesick for Ireland for over a year after returning from our vacation. Not just missing the idyllic lifestyle, not worrying about work or bills or the mundane. But really, genuinely missing it in my heart. I’ve never been that kind of homesick before. I still miss it immensely.
When we arrived at Croan Cottages, we were greeted by Pierre, the family peacock, announcing our arrival in the screaming way of peacocks. There were also two black dogs, who immediately adopted my son as family. The cottage itself was one of four adorable white sided, black roofed, single family dwellings, with a courtyard garden, including a fountain. The cottages were enclosed within a tall gated stone fence, the stones having been dug up on the property.
As we entered Cabin #2, it felt like the perfect little place. (SO glad my son got to be in my dream adventure too!!) All the walls in the cottage were painted bright white, with oak trim and cabinets, slate flooring in the main room, tiles in the bath, and hardwood floors in the bedrooms. To the left of the front door was a European style kitchen: small, compact, enough. I think my chef husband was rather shocked by the simplicity of it. There was a narrow stove/oven combo, a skinny and short refrigerator, dishwasher (unexpected bonus!), a washer/dryer combo under the counter, and a hotpot for tea. The cabinets were amazingly stocked with the basics and we simply had to get the rest. The sturdy table and chairs and lots of light made the kitchen complete. Not really my style, but our home for five days.
To the right of the entrance was the sitting room. Small, but cozy, with a gas fireplace, a settee, a couple of chairs, a couple of little tables, and glorious French doors to the private flagstone patio. The two bedrooms were small, one with a squeaky but comfortable full size bed, the other with two twin beds. Both rooms had a huge wardrobe filling a whole wall, a comfy rocking chair, and gloriously big windows that swung open wide, without screening. Pierre the Peacock came to the back of the house to see how we were settling in as we unpacked the luggage. He strutted and screamed happily, and also introduce the peahen, who liked to sit on our bedroom and bath sills, trying to talk us into letting her come inside. We couldn’t leave the windows wide open for fear that she’d do just that! During our stay, Pierre said goodbye to us every time we left and greeted us every time we returned. Peacocks are know as fabulous security guards, announcing the comings and goings of everyone. Pierre never, ever made us feel like intruders, but rather was relieved when we returned and wished us happy adventures as we left. We keep touch with the family, and they let us know that Pierre passed away this last winter, an old and very happy bird.
The very first morning, I awoke early. My guys were still sleeping, but I just couldn’t! I wanted to rearrange the furnishings to suit me better. I putzed around, moving things, rearranging the countertopss, making our cottage feel like home. I looked up to find Pierre silently watching me through the French doors, where he finally took a nap in the sunshine. I made my very first pot of French press coffee, looked out at the countryside surrounding the farm, smelled the clean “Irish” air, listened to the sheep, chickens, songbirds and grasshoppers, and could hardly believe how lucky I really, truly was. Home. I was home.