On the south west coast of Ireland there is a tiny village in County Kerry called Sneem. It is nestled in a valley surrounded by beautiful rolling mountains. The road map looks like a figure eight with a North Square and a South Square separated by a bridge over the rocky Sneem River. This configuration is likely why it’s named Sneem which means knot. The stucco houses and shops that lines the streets are painted in a variety of bright colors. Nearby sights include castles and ancient rocky ruins. It is a beautiful place that attracts many visitors. It’s the definition of quaint and an absolutely magical place!
34 years ago when I was 8, we took a trip to Ireland to visit my father’s family. We spent the majority of our time in Sneem with my grandmother, great aunts, and an uncle. This is the place my father grew up and where my uncle still lives in the family home and operates a sheep farm.
Remarkably I remember lots about this trip and this place. I remember the long drive in a tiny car down an extremely narrow and windy road from Galway. I remember being surprised to see palm trees. I remember having lunches at my grandmother’s rustic home where the kitchen was the place to gather. I remember sandwiches of meat from the stove on dense buttered homemade bread with milky sweet tea to drink. I remember staying at my Aunt’s more modern home and big breakfasts with yummy sausages and black pudding. I remember spending lots of time at a wood carving shop next to my Aunts home mesmerized watching hammer and chisel turn wood into a harp. I remember my flip-flop feet, the lush green grass, and hurting my heel on a rocky sightseeing walk. I remember visiting castles and ancient ruins that fed my imagination. I remember seeing the women of the town sweeping the streets for the annual Tidy Town competition. I remember a street festival and a bicycle riding competition where first prize went to the slowest rider. The winning rider was virtually still, balanced on his bike! And I could never forget the rainy day when the whole town was knee deep in water from a flood.
I don’t remember seeing any leprechauns but if leprechauns exist they most certainly live here!