Monday, 23 May 2011

Have you ever had a dream come true?

I recently took stock of my list of things I want to do in this lifetime...  I don’t actually have a written list... it’s a list which I’ve filed away in a ‘thought bubble’ in the recesses of my brains memory bank.   There’s not much on it but at the top of the list is one word in capitals...... IRELAND.
I’ve  travelled a bit in my day.  47 countries if I was going to skite about it.  Sadly, I never reached the Emerald Isles which I was later to find out was the country of my great grandmother’s birth.   With a name like Paddy, you’d have thought it’d be the first place I’d have travelled to, but during the late 70’s & early 80’s, times were pretty troubled in Ireland.  Regretfully, I let the fear of being ambushed, shot at or blown up in a roadside bomb put a halt to any plans I may have had of touring there.

Back home in NZ, many years later, I lived in hope of one day finding the funds to travel there.  I often trolled Irish websites reading about the history of Ireland and looking at all those fabulous ‘must see places  to visit’ when you ‘come to Ireland’.

But Alas, there it was destined to stay.... IRELAND..... in capitals, at the top of my ‘bucket list’.   And it might have stayed there, had I not entered a competition offering the winner a trip to IRELAND.  Then I started to ponder the question..... 'does anyone actually win those big competitions"?  You know the ones... a new car.  A  trip around the world? ...... the reality that you've actually got to enter these competitions to be in to win, waved its little [green, white & orange] flag at me.
The competition in question, landed itself in my Inbox one sunny day, courtsey of the Irish Tourism site, Discover Ireland NZ !  

You had to write a wee story about why you wanted to go to Ireland, then get yourself onto a leaderboard of 10 people, by getting friends & family to vote for you.  I thought, well how hard could that be.     Putting pen to paper, I hastly wrote a short missive & entered into the competition!  I was desperate to win this and set about harassing all my friends & relatives to vote for my entry, which they duly did and in no time at all, I was on the leaderboard. 
It was then up to the judges to read all the short stories that had been submitted by those on the leaderboard  & pick a winner by the 9th of May.
As the 9th of May came and went and there was no news of the winner, I resigned myself to the inevitable.   I hadn’t won my much dreamed of ‘trip to Ireland’.  I consoled myself in the fact that as a runner up on the leaderboard I may get a small consolation prize.
Then on Tuesday 17 May, I received a curious email from someone called Mary at the Tourism Ireland, office in Auckland.
Dear Paddy

I'm not sure if this is your real name but can you please get in touch with us ASAP re the Ireland competition that you participated in recently as we may have news of great interest?
Thank you

Maybe I’d won a consolation prize I thought… a Lonely Planet’s Guide to Ireland book if my memory served me right. The office was closed so I had to wait till the following morning to give Mary a call.

I dreamed that night of Mary telling me that I had actually won the trip, but knew deep down that it couldn’t be possible. Many had convinced me that I could have won, but I wasn’t about to get too excited.

The following morning....

Hello Mary, this is Paddy. 
“Aahh yes Paddy, well… I have some news for you” says Mary, in her lovely Irish accent.

[was she going to say my votes didn’t count….. or was she going to tell me that I’d won the consolation prize of a Lonely Planet’s Guide to Ireland book?]

“Have I won one of the consolation prizes?” says me.
“No Paddy! You’re our ‘top dog!’ says Mary.

[my heart rate went into overdrive & I found myself holding my breath!]

“You’re kidding me!?  I’ve won the trip!? says me.
“Yes Paddy, you’ve won the trip to Ireland? says Mary.
“Oh My Gawd!!!... O!....M!....G!!!! I yelled back!
At last, the #1 item on my ‘bucket list’ was finally going to be ticked off & turfed.... out of the bucket!