While I’m gearing up for another travel-related conference, I recently returned from the superbly run Travel Classics which I plan on making into an annual pilgrimage whenever possible.
The caveat to attending Travel Classics is that you have to apply (with accompanying published clips) for one of its slots which are reserved for professional working writers focusing on all aspects of travel. There’s a low editor to writer ratio which means writers get one-on-one face time with editors and begin to build and/or solidify new and existing relationships.
So for obvious reasons, I can’t go into juicy details here but I’m hoping it was just the reboot I needed to get my freelancing house in order, plus it was a wonderful chance to finally meet fellow writers and colleagues who I’ve admired for awhile.
But what I do want to quickly share is just how much I thoroughly enjoyed my second trip to Ireland especially to 400-acre country estate Ballymaloe House and Ballymaloe Cookery School run by the Allen family which hosted us in Shanagarry, County Cork.
I recently posted on Facebook that I often associate human characteristics with cities I visit. Of course, putting aside the fact that they’re chock-full of living human beings who fuel certain stereotypes, I feel out cities through human temperaments. For example, Edinburgh feels like a moody melancholic gentleman filled with more talent than he can use. And when the sun shines, you feel like the only person in the world that matters when his gaze lands on you.
Edinburgh feels like a Daniel Day-Lewis.
Belfast in Northern Ireland reminds me of a raw rugby player; one who tries to put on a suit, who tries to brush his hair neatly, and be what everyone wants him to be. But there’s a searing passion beneath that forced jagged exterior that screams “screw your fancy makeup. I want you just the way you are.” Belfast feels like a down-to-earth man at his most basal element. A separate post on Belfast is forthcoming.
Dublin – especially towns such as Galway and Cork that I’ve been to – always feel like chicken soup for the soul. They feel like your mother, someone in her 50s or 60s who is hip with modern times yet revels in classics and tries to weave the past into everyday life.
No matter how fancy that chicken soup gets – free-range raised organic chicken, caramelized onions, handmade pasta, braised garden-grown vegetables in a consommé of frothy broth – it remains accessible and grounded and you immediately feel at ease here. There’s an overarching vibe in Ireland that requires you have basic common sense. Some things aren’t explained to you. You just have to use your common sense to operate and navigate these parts culturally.
Ireland to me means effortless comfort in an “I am my brother’s keeper” sort of way.
Pictured – Myrtle Allen, Matriarch of The Ballymaloe Estate
So while I would normally take clean lines and minimalist hotel décor over country manor-style interiors having lived in Sweden for this long, when I opened the door to my room with a large old-fashioned metal turnkey at Ballymaloe House, I truly felt comfortable.
Once I get back to Stockholm mid June, I’ll be uploading hundreds of Ireland photos – from Ballymaloe House, Castlemartyr, and County Cork – to the image bank and will share short dispatch posts with links to each relevant gallery once they’re ready so please keep an eye out.