October 24, 2014

Writing in Ireland, My Irish Blessing

By Joy Ross Davis

In 2007, I was blessed with a summer internship as a travel writer and photographer with a travel agency in Ireland. It was a gift, a miracle that changed my life.  

As a travel writer and photographer, my job was to travel across five counties of Ireland, find remote, lesser known places that American first-time visitors would enjoy, photograph them in the best light, and then compose an enticing article that would actually make visitors want to see them. My basic assignment was to turn in ten articles and twenty photos each week.

Given the weather in Ireland—usually cool and rainy—I discovered that nothing in my suitcase would work as traveling clothes, as many of the remote destinations required long walks through fields of stinging nettle. Gone were the nice pants and blouses I’d brought, replaced now by heavy sweat pants, long sweaters, and most importantly, a pair of Wellies (boots).  

The first two weeks were chaotic as I tried to figure out how to visit the sites, take great photographs of them, and then write interesting articles. Steeped in history and myth, I was more concerned with the legend than the place itself, so I spent hours interviewing people, talking to local about the particular site, and generating ideas. In short, I spent hours wasting my time!

Finally, in desperation, I settled into a routine. When I’d visit a site, I would take along a small notebook that fit inside my camera bag. I’d spend some time reflecting on the beauty of the place, taking many more shots than were required, and in general, coming to know each place. I wrote in hotel lobbies or dining rooms at B and B’s, Internet cafes, libraries, and soon, I established a fixed routine.

And this was my Irish blessing.

My entire writing life changed during my stay in Ireland. I learned that I could write anywhere and under any circumstances. I became a better photographer and found that images inspired my best writing.

Photographs continue to inspire me as nothing else does, and at times, I feel an instant spiritual connection. The story comes, then, and no matter where I am the ideas flow. My Irish blessing generated a new source of inspiration, one that still guides my writing today. And for this small miracle, I am grateful.

I have shared my pictures of my Ireland travels to illustrate this blog post. Photo 1: Welcome: The third photo is one of the interior of the formal gardens at the castle. It is quite a stunning place. Photo 2: Castle Lough Rynn....Exterior of the Castle Lough Rynn. This photo was used on the cover of a travel brochure. Photo 3: Baronial Hall....The photo of the interior of the castle includes a pink sofa on which I would perch myself with my laptop and a cup of tea for hours at a time to write! Notice that the fireplace holds a likeness of Queen Victoria.  
Joy Ross Davis lives in Bessemer, Alabama. A student of the lore and magic of the back hills of Tennessee, she writes imaginative fiction. She has a Ph.D in Creative Writing  and for many years, she taught English at a local community college. She retired to become a caregiver for her mother who suffered from dementia. She documented her experiences with her mother in a series of articles for a local newspaper. The articles titled, “Mother, Can You Hear Me?”, have also been featured in Muscadine Lines, a Southern literary magazine. For several months in 2007, she lived in Ireland and worked as a travel writer and photographer for Tourism Ireland. She is currently teaching English online for the University of Phoenix. She lives with her son and three rescue dogs. Her published works include; Countenance, Emalyn’s Treasure, The Transformation of Bitty Brown, The Sutler of Petersburg. Her social media links

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