For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by the Emerald Isle. Ireland stirs something in my chest and pulls at my bloodlines, begging me to come to its shores.
Like most of us, I have Irish heritage. My Nanny Nora hailed from Kilkee in County Clare and would tell the most amazing stories of life on her parent's farm in 1920s Ireland. They often involved the sea:
We'd go down to the beach and climb the black rocks looking for seaweed. It was our greens. We'd take it home and Ma would hang it on the line to dry, although she was careful to not have it drying with the clean linen at the same time! We'd all go down together, all the children and clamber over rock pools, wary of moving tidelines. One day I remember being on the flat rocks with the waves below. All it took was one rogue wave. It came unexpectedly and soaked the lot of us. It was only in the moments after that we realised one of the lads we went down with was no longer there. The wave had simply taken him out with it and we never saw him again.
One of nine children, my Nan and her brothers and sisters all travelled and settled away from Éire, but they never forgot it. i grew up visiting her house (named Kilkee) and marvelling at black and white images of stormy seas, painted portraits of my great grandmother, shells and shillelaghs. The napkins and placemats were embroidered with Gaelic and my Nan taught me the same songs she'd learned at school to share with my friends. Not always to the liking of my teachers...
My Nan died before I could get to Ireland. None of her siblings still walk this earth although we suspect they're causing a hooley in heaven. Through unfortunate circumstances I have nothing physical to remember my Nanny Nora by and five years after her death, I still struggle with working out how to fill her absence in my life.
In a quest to see the places that she called home I am visiting Ireland this autumn on a road trip to discover my heritage, see the sea she spoke of and find a piece of my heart in a place I've never been.
Seafox will follow the journey, wherever it leads.