Ireland, oh, Ireland. Between the endless rolling fields and the heavy, persistent buzz of the pub sessions (fiddles and all), I have failed to document you properly. The truth is, Ireland, the brief amount of time we spent together was too much of a whirlwind. The kind of grande finale that just sort of wraps you up in the swirly, orchestral music and then next thing you know the credits are rolling and you’re left thinking “wait… did I miss that?”. Yes. Yes, you did. But it was a fantasy worth reliving through a blog post, nonetheless. Here are the top four lessons the land of green and whiskey taught me…
LESSON 1: BEAUTY IS OFTEN FOUND IN THE PERIPHERY
There were many times on the road to the Cliffs of Moher, where I could have begged the driver to pull over to breathe in the beauty this country had tucked away from the curbside of the highway. Fields upon fields of wildflowers, lush green valleys steeped with little stone toppings, the sharp decent of cliffs. Ireland hides its real beauty just out of focus.
LESSON 2: STAND ON THE EDGE, THEN GO A BIT FURTHER
The risk is high, the reward is greater. Sometimes, putting your feet just over the fence can remove yourself from the tourist shuffle. True, I was paralyzed from fear of falling over the edge of the cliffs. That weird standing over the edge of a building feeling got the best of me initially. But I reaped the benefits once I had distanced myself from the main pathway. Being a few feet away from the mass crowd of people made me feel a little more connected with the natural wonder the Cliffs of Moher had to offer. The Atlantic breeze slapped the waves against stone founded cliffs while tangling my hair to an absolute windswept knot. I was on the edge and I felt closer to it all.
LESSON 3: PUB TIME IS CRUCIAL
While in Ireland, escaping to a pub to nurse a Guinness is almost a necessity. I lied. It’s totally a necessity. Honestly, not experiencing Ireland’s pub culture is doing yourself a disservice… even if you’re not a drinker. As I whimsically strolled down the cobble stoned streets of Galway one night, it became obviously clear that the drinking culture in Ireland is just different. The only word I can accurately use to describe most Irish bars is joyful. There’s a sense of happiness, warmth and history when you enter a true Irish pub. I loved just imagining the amount of raucous singalongs, jam sessions and banter that the walls have seen!
LESSON 4: REMINDERS OF HOME ARE EVERYWHERE
Sure, Ireland and it’s people are occasionally spitting out Celtic slogans and the land is much greener than my immediate area in Pennsylvania… but the land of four leaf clovers and leprechauns generally reminded me of home. Sometimes little things like the availability of bagels (you have no idea how badly I need bagels in my life), a lilting “hello” in your own language, the lull of an acoustic folk song and the appearance of a cow (we have a lot of those in Pennsylvania) can send you right back home.
With tomorrow being Saint Patrick’s Day and all… be sure to live as fully and joyfully as the Irish do every day. Even though our Americanized version of the holiday isn’t exactly accurate to the Irish traditions, I know I will certainly feel keen to get a little rowdy and raise a parting glass to this stunning little island in the Atlantic.