With St. Patrick’s Day approaching, I thought I’d share a glimpse into how Irish Encounter was born.
In the summer of 2000, my family took a home exchange to Ireland. We stayed for three weeks in Galway and then moved down to Bandon, County Cork, for three more weeks.
During our stay in this beautiful country, we enjoyed many scenes like these pictures.
We toured many quaint towns from Clifden, north of Galway, down to Timoleague and Courtmacsherry in the south.
We ate brown bread dunked into delicious soups and drank pots of hot tea. We loved our time in Ireland while Irish families stayed in our house. Oh, I’m ready to go back right now!
In May of 2009, I stood near the threshold of the rest of my life. My oldest daughter would graduate high school in less than a month. Two years later, her sister would march right behind her, followed in two years by their twin brothers.
Life as I’d known it for the past eighteen years was about to change.
Throughout my tenure as a stay-with-my-children mom, I’d sporadically written non-fiction pieces for periodicals. I had a portfolio of articles with my byline in print.
With imminent graduations threatening my day job as a domestic engineer, I decided to focus more on my writing. I’d just completed the Life of Moses with Bible Study Fellowship and thought to share insights gleaned from thirty two weeks of study.
I wrote What I learned from Moses at the top of a yellow legal pad and immediately began daydreaming—about Ireland, not Moses.
In my daydream, a woman in an Irish café, Ellen, scribbled in a journal. A little old man in a tweed vest approached her, introduced himself, and began chatting with her. I saw the wooden buttons on his vest and the Irish cap he clutched in his hands. Suddenly another man, Payne, dressed in dusty safari clothes, appeared on Ellen’s left, lounging at his table and eavesdropping.
This scene interested me infinitely more than Moses. I flipped to a fresh sheet of paper and wrote everything I saw and heard in the café.
Irish Encounter began that day. I didn’t know it yet, but God did.
I hurried back every morning to my desk to see what happened next. Before writing, I’d recite Bible verses from the Moses study: Exodus 3:12 “And God said, ‘I will be with you’” and Exodus 4:12 “Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” I’d pray for help, and then I’d travel to Galway.
God led me onto this writing journey with much prodding and pulling toward those interesting characters. I’m thankful every day He did.
Which interesting path is God leading you toward today?
Hope Toler Dougherty holds a Master’s degree in English and taught at East Carolina University and York Technical College. Her publications include three novels as well as nonfiction articles. A member of ACFW, RWA, and SinC, she writes for SeriousWriter.com. She and her husband live in North Carolina and enjoy visits with their two daughters and twin sons.