THE WILD ATLANTIC WAY
Me again, buttercup. Here to give you an extraordinarily important tip as you enter the planning phase of your journey. Read carefully, because this is one of the few hard-and-fast rules you will find in this entire book. You listening? Here goes. As a first-time visitor to Ireland, do not, under any circumstances, begin your trip in the capital city of Dublin.
I know that sounds harsh. I know there's a killer deal to Dublin on that travel website you've been circling like a vulture all week, but hear me out. There are a great many reasons to heed my advice, the main one being this:
Dublin is seductive as hell
I know what you're going to do next, sugar. You're going to argue with me that there isn't anything particularly seductive about hell, to which I would counter that it's an excellent place to meet interesting people, and those fiery lakes? Perfect for soaking away stress.
But let's not get sidetracked.
Bottom line, Dublin is a vacuum cleaner and you are one half of your favorite pair of dangly earrings—the one you've been missing since New Year's. If you get too close to that city, it will suck you up and there will be no hope for unmangled survival. Do I sound like I'm being overly dramatic? Good. Have I used one too many metaphors? Excellent. Because Dublin is dramatic and worthy of metaphor overuse. It's full of interesting museums, and statues with hilariously inappropriate nicknames, and pubs spewing out some of the best music on earth. Everywhere you go, you'll see things you want to do and see and taste.
And therein lies the problem. Many a well-intentioned traveler has shown up in Dublin with plans to spend a casual day or two before turning their attention to the rest of Ireland. And many a well-intentioned traveler has found themselves, a week later, on their ninetieth lap of Temple Bar, two leprechaun snow globes and a bag full of overpriced T-shirts the only things they have to show for it.
It's a tale as old as time. My firm recommendation (command?) is that you begin in the west, most particularly, the Wild Atlantic Way. Even more particularly, the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher. We'll get to them next.
HEARTACHE HOMEWORK: Surprise! As we traipse across this wild island of ours, I will be doling out little activities designed to engage you with Ireland and baby-step you out from under that crushing load of heartache you're packing around. Assignment one? Keep reading. No, really. Keep reading.
—Excerpt from Ireland for the Heartbroken: An Unconventional Guide to the Emerald Isle, third edition
"YOU WERE BRAWLING. DURING THE ceremony
." Whenever my mom was upset, her voice lowered three octaves and she pointed out things that everyone already knew.
I pulled my gaze away from the thousand shades of green rushing past my window, inhaling to keep myself calm. My dress was bunched up around me in a muddy tutu, and my eyes were swollen drum-tight. Not that I had any room to talk: Ian's eye looked much worse. "Mom, the ceremony was over; we—"
"Wrong side, wrong side!" Archie yelled.
Mom swore, swerving the car over to the left and out of the way of an oncoming tractor while I dug my fingernails into the nearest human flesh, which happened to belong to my oldest brother, Walter.
"Addie, stop!" he yelped, pulling his arm away. "I thought we agreed you weren't going to claw me to death anymore."
"We almost just got into a head-on collision with an oversize piece of farm equipment. It's not like I can control what I do," I snapped, shoving him a few inches to the left. I'd spent the last seventy-two hours crammed between my two largest brothers in every variation of transportation we encountered, and my claustrophobia was hovering around a level nine. Any higher and I was going to start throwing punches. Again.