Have you ever had one of those days that is imprinted on your mind so vividly that you can recall every detail? I have. Several, in fact. There are days that come rushing back to me in my memory at a particular sight or smell. The smell of newspaper ink sends me back to my childhood of going into work with my dad who helped run a family-owned newspaper and wreaking havoc in the office with my cousins. Sometimes the memories are so vivid I can remember the feeling of the day - the warmth of sun on my arms, the wind blowing in my hair or the feel of the puppy kisses after a hike with my dog.
One of those days has been the inspiration of my new Irish linen line called the Wild Atlantic. The day was so remarkable and perfect, I fell in love with everything about it -the weather, the food, the music, the chat, the cool breeze against my cheek, and the cousins.
The Danes have their hygge, the Swedes the lagom, the Japanese their ikigai, and the Senegalese have their teranga. The Irish, thankfully, have their ‘craic.’
Craic (pronounced crack) is an Irish word, which, roughly translated, means ‘music and fun’. While living in Ireland, more often than not, instead of ‘hello’, I was greeted with ‘what’s the craic’? It so perfectly sums up the Irish love of humour (oh, how I miss it that dry humour) and inclusive fun. Nothing is to be taken too seriously.
It’s actually a pretty awesome way to go through life. Ask yourself “where’s the fun”? And then go there.
I experienced the true meaning of Irish craic when I was a newlywed and my husband first brought me to the magical island in Ireland where his mother was born. It was a summer bank holiday and the sun was, as the Irish like to say, splitting the stones. We gathered at his uncle’s house and enjoyed an impromptu session of traditional Irish music, fresh scones baked by his aunt, jaw dropping views of the Atlantic, sunshine, conversation and laughter. We returned as often as we could while we were still living in Ireland.
That day is so deeply imprinted in my memory I longed to return to the island again and again. After a hiatus of nearly a decade, which included an international move and two babies, we returned and joined about 30 of my husband’s cousins for a holiday that included a picnic on a small, uninhabited island where my husband’s grandparents once lived in a stone cottage that is still standing and awaits the summer months for the family to return, if even for a day.
We hiked amongst stunning views and Viking ruins and played an impromptu footie match on the beach. Accessibly only by boat, the children piled in to the small power boat that made multiple trips back and forth to ferry the entire group over. On approach to the shore they tumble out and head straight for a sheltered part of the beach to set up. Sandwiches, endless snacks, balls, thermoses of tea, rain gear, sunscreen, jackets and swim suits all comprise a day on an Irish beach. And if we're lucky, one cousin remembers to pack a few bottles of French or South African Wine (thanks, M!).
As my husband, children and I would walk around the main island, we would inevitably bump into a cousin or childhood friend; the kids would relish their independence of running around the village freely, impromptu play dates at the playground and the shock of the afternoon pier jumping into the freezing (for an American, at least) Atlantic.
Sipping a latte with other cousins overlooking the harbor (a concept I’m sure my grandparent-in-laws would find equally befuddling and horrifying) while the children were in water sports and sailing camp became the morning routine, which melted into the lunch routine, which melted into the rest of the day.
This, my friends, is the craic.
Throughout the year I long to return to this island and to the clan that has become my family. We hike mountains, dine at the local hotel, cycle, run, hike some more, pier jump, kayak, picnic, sail, my children play in an uncle’s magical garden and we generally drink in the astounding views of the Atlantic so that the beauty will fuel us through another 11 months until we can return.
This island is part of Ireland Wild Atlantic Way, which is a scenic journey in the west of Ireland. World-renown for its rugged landscape, buzzing towns and over-the-top beauty and views, the Wild Atlantic Way is an experience of a lifetime and a scenic feast.
My Wild Atlantic linen line’s designs of are in hues of blue like the Atlantic coast itself. The softness of the Irish linen lends itself to the gentle sensorial experience of the constant, fresh breezes that brush against the rugged landscape.
Woven near Belfast by a member of the Irish Linen Guild, and printed in Donegal, my Wild Atlantic collection brings a fresh, modern feel to an ancient fabric that withstands wear and tear by only getting softer.
The Wild Atlantic is my personal story of family connection, natural beauty and my soul's connection to Ireland. Now, during those 11 months when I’m not in Ireland in my happy place, I can at least have the visual and sensual reminder with patterns and texture.
And with the Wild Atlantic Irish linen, you can, too.