A small family on a big journey

family travelling

Posted on: 1st December, 2014

Category: Features

Contributor: Mary O'Brien

Last year, Tracey Carisch and her family — husband Brian and three children, Emily (10), Liv (7) and Alison (5) — woke up one day and decided to do something different — something that would impact on them as individuals and as a family. The family decided to attempt to travel around the world and volunteer 100 times. Part of their journey brought them to Castletownshend in West Cork. Tracey speaks to Mary O’Brien about their experience.

Out of the 13 countries they have visited so far, Ireland and West Cork has left a big impression. “Our time in Ireland has been a highlight of our trip,” says Tracey. “While we’ve been here we’ve spent a lot of time in Skibbereen and it’s surrounding towns. We became regulars at the Skibbereen Library, Apple Betty’s Cafe, Lough Hyne and the Skibbereen Saturday Market. We explored the Wild Atlantic way and tried to see as much of the coastal areas as we could. We volunteered a number of times in the area and always met really nice people in the process.”

Tracey says the people they met while in West Cork have been the best part of their trip. “Alan in Castletownshend was the first person we met as we drove up to our rental house,” she says. “He was incredibly helpful, even coming over to address a leak that erupted in the attic of our rental house one night. He became a good friend of ours. He often had a can of cider in his hand and a mischievous twinkle in his eye. Our children made friends with a family of siblings in Castletownshend. They spent many hours making forts in the woods near our house. Our family also shared meals and laughs with Mark, Anne and Abby Townshend, who we met through volunteering at SCAR. Mary, the owner of Lill McCarthy’s pub in Castletownshend also gave a lot of advice on the things we should see in the area. She would tell us a good place to go, as we drank a beer at her pub, and then a few days later we would be back on the same stools telling her about our experience there. We couldn’t have asked for a better trip to Ireland thanks to these and other great people who made us feel so welcome.”

While in West Cork, the family volunteered at four projects; They cleaned up a shoreline in Rineen Woods, helped out at the West Cork Multicultural Festival, volunteered as stewards on race day for SCAR and made Christmas boxes for Team Hope. Other volunteer work in different countries along the way has included helping at blood drives, gardening work, caring for animals, working in a community centre, picked up litter, an making sandwiches for a soup kitchen

The family has become much closer, as a result of spending the last six months travelling and volunteering together. “Looking back, it’s easy to see the treadmill we were on, running from work and school to sports and activities,” explains Tracey. “We didn’t realise it at the time, but we had gotten sucked into the chaos of modern family life. This travel has slowed us down, brought us together, and helped us operate as a team. It’s made us a true family unit. As parents we’ve also loved getting to experience these new places through the eyes of our girls. Kids live more in the moment. They’re more observant and engaged in the environment. They point out things Brian and I would have overlooked and urge us to do things we wouldn’t have considered.”

Home schooling is going quite well. Although not a teacher by training, Tracey is using a lot of online tools for math and grammar help. The girls also keep travel journals, do research projects about the things they find in nature, and give presentations about the places visited. They seem to be enjoying this different approach to learning,” says Tracey. “When we eventually return to the US next year they will go back into the public school system.”

Brian is a software developer and has worked remotely from his clients for years, so he can work anywhere and is continuing to work full time while the family is travelling. “We also don’t have the expense of maintaining a home, cars, or utility bills back home. We are essentially spending and making the same money that we did when we were back in the US,” says Tracey.

Tracey says the one thing they would do differently on such a trip is not pack so much stuff. “We thought we were packing quite light by having just two large and two medium suitcases for the five of us, yet we’ve realised we have a lot of things we don’t wear or use. We donated quite a few things to a local charity shop while we were in Skibbereen and will be sending back a large bag of things to the US to lighten our load a bit.”

There has of course been other errors made along the way; language barriers, inaccurate navigation from the SatNav lady, a few misplaced items, and so on. However, the family has managed to see the funny side in most of the frustrating situations. “If approached with the right attitude, there is a lot satisfaction and even joy to be found in overcoming obstacles and muddling through a little confusion. We’ve had to do this over and over again in every situation imaginable — from the grocery store to toll booths to border crossings. One would expect that this repeated uncertainty would get exhausting after a while, but instead it’s become quite entertaining and makes for some good stories,” says Tracey.

After Africa, the family will continue to venture east, staying in Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, and then finally in South America before hopefully returning to the US next Autumn.

Tracey says their view of the world has changed drastically as a result of their journey. “Being away has given us a very objective look at our past life style, our country and our family’s goals. As a result, we will be living more simply and putting more time toward family than we did before. For instance, we thought it would be difficult living only with what would fit infour4 suitcases and our backpacks. The truth is, this minimalist lifestyle has actually made life so much easier. We didn’t need all of the clothes, toys, furnishings and gadgets we had before. We’ve gotten a better understanding of what we truly need to be happy, and the answer is: not very much. When we get back we will be prioritising where our money goes much differently and limiting the ‘stuff’ we buy. We want to put our money toward experiences our family can have together not the things we can put on a shelf.”

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Visiting restrictions in place at Bantry General Hospital due to Flu Presentations

Strict visitor restrictions have been put in place with immediate effect at Bantry General Hospital due to the number of patients who have presented with flu like symptoms.

In the interest of patient care and in order to restrict the spread of the flu virus within the hospital, it is necessary with immediate effect to ban all visitors to Bantry General Hospital, with the exception of following: critically ill patients are restricted to one visitor per critically ill patient and confined to visiting times only, and attendance at the Medical Assessment Unit (MAU) and Local Injury Unit (LIU) should only take place if absolutely necessary, only one relative per patient attending these areas.

The elderly, children, pregnant women or young adults, those with chronic illnesses or vulnerable others are advised not to visit. Outpatient, Day care services and routine hospital admissions are not affected.

All infection control measures are in place and every effort is being made to manage and contain the spread of the flu virus.

People with flu like symptoms are advised to contact their GP by phone in the first instance and avoid presenting at the Emergency Department at Bantry General Hospital.

Bantry hospital staff are asking people to think about all their care and treatment options and keep ED services for the patients who need them most. Others with a less serious illness can be treated by their GP or out of hours GP service where their GP can refer them to an Assessment Unit the following day if required.
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8th January, 2018  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Cope Foundation's Happy Christmas from Cope Foundation. ... See MoreSee Less

What makes Christmas special? Children and adults we support, our incredible staff, families and supporters - these are the people who make our organisation so special every single day, but especially at Christmas! Meet some of them here... Thank you to the wonderful team at AV3 Media who kindly produced this video for us as a Christmas gift! To make a Christmas donation today, go to www.cope-foundation.ie/donate. We believe that together we can do great things and with your support we can do so much more! Please SHARE our video so that more people can learn about the amazing things that happen at Cope Foundation! Evening Echo; Irish Examiner; The Southern Star; The Avondhu; Cork Independent; West Cork Times; West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork; Bandon Opinion/The Opinion; Vale Star; East Cork Journal; Cork Chamber - Faces of Cork Business; Cork City FC; Cork Institute of Technology - CIT; University College Cork; Corks RedFM 104-106; The KC Show Corks 96 FM; Cork's 96FM; Cork's Best; C103 Cork; Cork Airport; Cork Opera House: The Everyman; Cork County Council; County Cork; Cork City Council; CorkLike; CCCahoots; Cork On Ice; Glow Cork; CIT Cork School of Music; RTÉ Today; Ciaran Bermingham - Actor; Rob & Marian Heffernan; John Spillane; Ger Wolfe; Eimear O'Brien PR; Jack O Rourke; Theo Dorgan; Mahon Point Shopping Centre; Blackpool Shopping Centre & Retail Park

18th December, 2017  ·  

This is the real spirit of Christmas at Caseys of Clonakilty. ... See MoreSee Less

Are you alone or do you know someone who will be alone this Christmas? If so, then we here at Casey’s would like to make your day that little bit easier. We are offering a full Christmas dinner on us! Christmas dinners can be collected Christmas Eve from 12:30pm - 8:30pm. Wishing everyone a very happy Christmas from everyone at Casey’s

15th December, 2017  ·  

RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta’s has just announced its Christmas schedule and it features several programmes of interest to listeners in West Cork.

On New Year’s Day at 12.08 pm we’ll hear highlights from the Éigse Dhiarmuidín Festival that took place in West Cork in early December, remembering musician and broadcaster Diarmuid Ó Súilleabháin. An Nollaig ar Oileán Chléire is an archive show presented by Mícheál Ó Sé on Wednesday 27 December at 5.30 pm about Christmas on Cape Clear and on Friday 29 December and 5 January at 7 pm, Peadar Ó Riada will bring us very special editions of his Cuireadh chun Ceoil programme from Múscraí. Keep an ear out!
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15th December, 2017  ·  

West Cork People - The Best Free Read in West Cork shared Garda Síochána - Cork, Kerry & Limerick - Southern Region's photo. ... See MoreSee Less

REMINDER: An Garda Siochana are hosting a Retail Crime Prevention Meeting, to be held at 7pm on Wednesday 29th November 2017. This meeting will be held in the Munster Arms Hotel in Bandon. This meeting is one of a series being held across the West Cork Garda Division, in association with Operation Thor, the Garda National Anti-Crime Strategy. The purpose of the meeting is to increase the cooperation between Gardai and the retail sector, ensuring that the current low levels of crime in the locality extends past the busy approaching Christmas season. The meeting will be addressed by the local Crime Prevention Officer, Sergeant Ian O’ Callaghan, who will discuss burglary prevention, shoplifting, fraud, and cybercrime. There will be a particular focus on cash handling and cash exposure of businesses in the run up to the Christmas shopping period. All aspects of commercial crime will be discussed, and we would strongly urge all businesses to make a special effort to attend on the evening.

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