In October, 2015 I decided to close my law practice and move to Ireland. Practicing law had become completely unsatisfying, and I couldn’t do it anymore. When I climbed the steps to my office every day, my feet felt like they were stuck in cement.
I decided to move to Ireland for a few reasons:
- I had made 3 trips to Ireland and I wondered what it would be like to live there
- I wanted to connect with my family and my heritage: my mother is from Ireland, and much of my family lives there
- I was done living in the United States. It was time to live a completely different life.
I put my house on the market and gave away or sold most of my personal belongings. After 4 months, there were no offers on the house and no prospects.
Having no job, and not having much to do, I decided I could not wait any longer. Without my house being sold, I booked a one way flight, and on the 14th of February, 2016, I left for Ireland. It seems fitting that I followed my heart on Valentine’s Day.
When I landed in Dublin the following morning, I received an offer on my house. It taught me that sometimes you just have to follow your heart, take a leap of faith and trust that you will be ok.
Before I moved, when people asked me what I was going to do in Ireland, I told them I wanted to live in a cottage on an estate and work on a farm. And that is exactly what happened.
Through a friend, I met the owner of a large estate located in the middle of Ireland. It was a magical place. The estate was on 200 acres, and consisted of a magnificent 9 bedroom castle house from the 18th century, a walled garden and a working farm complete with horses, cattle, sheep, chickens and even a few deer (the deer would actually follow you around).
I lived in a cottage called the Gate Lodge, so named because it was located at the gate to the estate. For the remainder of my time there, I became known as “Tim from the Gatelodge.”
When I arrived, the owner asked me to take over the 1 1/2 acre walled garden, so I spent the summer growing vegetables and tending to the many berry and fruit trees in the ancient garden. I never had a garden before, but it turns out I had a flair for it. I even sold some of our produce at the local farmers’ market, where I would take tea with the locals on Friday mornings.
There were many visitors to the estate, and the owner operated a Bed & Breakfast at the castle house, so I got to meet people from all over the world. I even helped out at the B & B and gave tours of the estate and at local tourist attractions.
It was exhilarating. Every day I had to pinch myself; I actually lived in Ireland! I got to do things I had only dreamt about: riding horses, herding cattle, driving a tractor, making hay and splitting wood, not to mention travelling all over Ireland visiting ancient sites, experiencing natural wonders and immersing myself in Irish culture.
Getting to know my family was also a benefit. For most of my life, they had only been distant relatives in a far off land. I had the chance to actually spend time with these people that I had only heard about, and I had the opportunity to learn more about my grandparents, who had died many years ago. People in Ireland are really connected to each other, and are usually familiar with even their most distant relatives. It was eye-opening to learn about your heritage and to hear stories about your family from your aunts and uncles and distant cousins.
The Irish are also really connected to the land. It seems that every person either had a horse, cow or some other farm animal. Agriculture is still a large part of their lives and remains one of the largest industries in Ireland.
It was only after 14 months, at the beginning of April, 2017, that I began to think of the United States again. I started to miss the place where I grew up and spent most of my life; my year away gave me a real appreciation for what we have in the United States. It was also time to do something more purposeful.
My time in Ireland gave me the space to think about my life and what I had learned. I also found that in order to get to know yourself, you sometimes have to go back to where you came from.
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