She sat making notes about where she was heading, when to meet for lunch, and (most importantly) what time she needed to be back. She didn't want anyone to be waiting on her, much less a bus full of Pilgrims.
As they stepped out into the morning sun, they surveyed the area and headed toward their predetermined destinations. Some would remain on the bus and head to Yeat's Grave. She had decided to explore Sligo with the others, taking advantage of a shopping day.
The woodcarver's shop was easy to find and once they stepped inside, they were greeted with a smile and a friendly hello.
Two wooden statues were chosen from the window and he was more than happy to treat the Pilgrims to a retelling of the myths that inspired them. Taking a piece of paper from his cluttered workspace, he wrote down the story as he spoke, so that they would remember.
An hour had passed and it was time to go. She wanted to be certain not simply to wave and say thank you over her shoulder as she left, but to look him in the eye.
"I wanted to be sure to tell you that Vyv sent us. She said to say hello but wasn't sure if she'd be able to drop by today."
"Well then, you'll need something to prove you were here. What is your favorite animal?"
"A hare.", she replied.
He moved to his saw and cut a small square of wood from a plank. Turning to the vice, he clamped it in place and began carving, telling another story as he worked.
"It was thought that hares weren't very common here in Ireland. But the truth is, they are so good at hiding, they are rarely seen."
The carving finished, he removed it from the vice and handed it to her.
"Here you go. Thank you for coming to see me."
It wasn't simply the gift of the carving, but the opportunity to hear him tell the stories and to experience the passion with which he told them. The heart and soul of Ireland resides in those stories and in the people who are kind enough to share them.