I have been thinking about family a lot this week and along with it, my Irish heritage. I consider myself lucky to have visited Ireland and to have had a spectacular experience. There were a few key things that really stuck out for me.

One was meeting master silversmith Desmond A Byrne at the Castle Yard in Kilkenny. To this day I wear the ring he created and I acquired at our meeting in 1999. He was a delightful man who made the time to share with me his thoughts on making jewelry and teaching it to others since practically before I was born. At the time I had just received my degree in metalsmithing and he was so interested to hear more about it. It was wonderful to meet someone from far away who spoke with me as friend and who speaks the same language of passion for art making.

There was particular magic on this trip in traveling off the mainland to two small islands called The Skelligs. One island appeared almost entirely white with snow as we approached and we were told that it was a bird sanctuary. As it turned out it wasn’t snow at all, but thousands of birds covering the landscape!  We traveled on to Skellig Michael where we hiked up the 300+ steps to the stone huts and a spectacular view of the ocean. My friend Beth and I sat, eating cheese and grapes, watching the puffins circle over and over and over as we reflected on who may have inhabited the monastery hundreds of years ago. The moment was so peaceful and I am so glad it visited me again this week.

Lastly was encountering my family’s name and seeing where my ancestors came from so many years ago. I knew there was a castle, but didn’t find out it’s location until I returned home. It didn’t matter. I loved seeing the family name on store fronts and mailboxes. A pretty unusual experience having never seen the name Kinsella in the states except in relation to my direct family.