NORTHERN IRELAND & IRELAND

Let's start off with the reason i'm here - My Gran and Pa aka Teresa & Jim Wray-McCann:

When my Gran was just 25 and pregnant with her first of six children she moved with my Pa from a small fishing village in Northern Ireland called Kilkeel to our side of town - Australia. Having never been there before and not knowing anyone can you imagine the feeling? You don’t just fly back annually to see everyone and everything you’ve ever known. In fact - they only returned twice.

Having grown up hearing stories about Kilkeel and listening Van’s Morrison’s - Irish Heartbeat album it sounded pretty magical. My Dad says that when they were growing up and the song ‘ Star of the County Down’ would come on my Gran would come into the lounge room and dance around pulling her skirt up to just above her knees - have you ever heard anything so sweet? 

So there I was 59 years later at 25 years old myself on the doorstep of my Gran’s cousins house - J.P and his wife Maree. I have never felt so welcomed in anyone's home considering the fact that essentially we were perfect strangers. My days consisted of of driving around the green, forever rolling hills stopping every 5 minutes to meet more and more and MORE family. I was greeted excitedly with open arms by every person I met. They couldn’t believe I travelled all that way on my own to see them. I think my Gran and Pa left a bit of an impression on the town. My nights mostly consisted of eating something delicious cooked by Maree and sitting out on the back patio drinking red wine with a view of the Mourne Mountains until the sun eventually disappeared at 11pm.  My one request was that I wanted a good Irish pub night out (wouldn't you?!). So that Saturday I get a phone call from my Gran’s cousins Maria & Brydie - let me remind you they’re in their 70’s. They say ‘We’re all going out! We’ll pick you up in one hour.” That night I ended up partying with almost the whole family at the most Irish little pub you could imagine and they had drunk me under the table, I could not keep up! Of course they requested my Gran’s song too - and we all danced until the early hours, it was surreal. I formed a pretty special bond with my little buddy blonde Harry. (He features in a lot of my photo's.) We are third or fourth cousins.. whatever we're family. Apologies for some of the more personal photo’s but some of these photo’s are some of my happiest memories.

Thank you to Laura, Leigh, Harry, J.P, Maree, Neil, Maria, Houston, Brydie, Felix, Veronica & John Pat for welcoming me into your homes and showing me my Gran & Pa's home. 

DUBLIN

In Dublin I stayed at the Spire Hostel. This was my first hostel experience. It was SUPER cheap, I was in a 12 bed dorm and I think I managed 10 hours sleep over 3 nights. I learnt pretty quickly that I am a light sleeper. However, Spire hostel was in a good central location. So if you’re on a budget and location is paramount - it’s perfect. You’ll eventually run into the Temple Bar area - probably the most touristy spot in Dublin and you will pay double the amount for anything but I loved being there and I found an EPIC music duo so I paid something ridiculous for a pint of bulmers and sat there all afternoon - worth it. Dublin is a place to just get amongst it - especially if you’re solo. There’s actually no way you will go to a bar and not make friends. I had a fab 'Aussie' style brekky at Brother Hubbard a super cute cafe recommended to me by a friend.. check that out for a fresh OJ after a Dublin night.. you'll need it. Definitely do one of the ‘free’ walking tours they are hilarious because isn’t anything said in an Irish accent hilarious? Also a great way to meet people which I did and ended up on a bar crawl with them that night - bar crawl also a must in Dublin.. what else do you do? Cheeeeeeers Dublin. MK x