Halfway through my trip, I had an amazing and extremely unique opportunity fall into my lap; I could either stay in London for a few days and walk around… or I could visit my first cousin in Ireland who I’ve never met before. I chose the second option in a heartbeat.
For context, my great-grandmother was born in Ireland and immigrated to the United States at the age of 19. It was there she met my great-grandfather, raised children, and eventually started her own family stateside. While we have cousins across the pond, it was tough to get in contact because my great-grandmother left so long ago… until now.
I looked up the family tree and found my first cousin twice removed, Tony. Tony is 74 years old but had a youthful energy as he showed me around town, took me to sites around the country, and even went out at night with me… very high energy.
The trip was extremely humbling for me; I’d never even been to Ireland, let alone met my family from the country. Something that I knew was a strong part of my identity… and I never was able to explore it. While over there I saw the house my great-grandmother grew up in, her old school, and even learned about my other cousins and how they’re doing: Tony is a published author and was in an internationally famous rock band, so he was not a bad person to have to call the shots for me!
More than a few times I found myself overcome with emotions, because it was such a beautiful thing, such an eye-opening experience, and one I could never have imagined happening. It showed me where my roots lie, what my great-grandmother sacrificed in coming over to the United States, and most importantly where I came from.
I’m extremely grateful for such an incredible opportunity. To see where my family grew up, and the history that went into making my life possible was something I will never forget. While this was my first time venturing out to Ireland, I’m certain it won’t be my last. All of this in just one weekend during my classes, too!