Overseas and Off-Campus Programs Blog
Ring, Waterford, and (A LOT of) Family
Program Semester and Year
When I told my grandmother about my plans to study abroad in Ireland she immediately exclaimed: “You’ll have to visit the cousins!” She filled me in quickly, explaining that she, and by extension I, have distant family in Waterford. Although she couldn’t quite explain how we were related, I gathered that she had visited this side of the family a while back and was in some communication with them.
After my parents committed to their travel plans in Ireland, they assured me that we would visit “the cousins” together.
While I had classes for most of the week, I was able to join my parents for the end of their travels this past weekend in County Cork and Waterford. We spent a lovely two nights in the adorable town of Kinsale, before driving slowly South to Waterford.
On Saturday, we made a pitstop in a town called “Ring”. At this point you’re probably wondering just how Irish I am–truthfully, I’m not sure. But I do know that my last name comes from my grandfather’s side of the family which is actually Swedish. However, Ring is a very popular surname in Ireland, so when we saw “Ringville” and “Ring” on the map, we knew we had to visit. This part of the story is about as insignificant as the town of Ring which has a pub, a post office, and a playground. Regardless, it was one of the highlights of the weekend.
My grandmother had put my mom in contact with a woman named Kate who was our point person for planning the visit with our Irish relatives. My mom and Kate chatted a bit via email and agreed to meet at Kate’s home for a late breakfast on Sunday morning. Kate said that she would gather a few of the family members together for the occasion.
When we arrived, we were rather overwhelmed by the sheer number of cars in the driveway. As we walked into the house, it quickly became clear that by “a few family members” Kate meant 30+ people.
Despite the overwhelm, the two hours we spent at Kate’s might have been the highlight of my time here in Ireland thus far. Everyone was incredibly kind, and we spent the majority of the morning laughing over the peculiarity of the situation and our mutual inability to solve the family tree puzzle. As we said goodbye, two women came up to me individually to give me their phone numbers and assure me that if I needed anything while in Dublin, they were “just down the road”.
Leaving Waterford, I was struck with a profound appreciation for people, particularly in their pursuit of connection.