When I considered how I could share emotions and culture with others during my time of studying abroad, all I could imagine were the faces that I would see while there. I did not know who I would see, meet, spend time with, laugh with, or travel with. While I have met many new people who are from the United States, like myself, as well as people who traveled from places such as France, Canada, and The Netherlands, I wanted to only share the lovely faces of Ireland in this specific post. The purpose behind this decision is to share with you the many wonderful people that make Ireland a truly humble, beautiful, amusing, and comforting place to visit. Here are the faces and characteristics that best describe Ireland’s community.
Humor – This is Patrick. During my travels in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he was the coach driver for a nine-hour tour that I took part in. Throughout the course of the day, he would offer little personal anecdotes, native stories to the areas we traveled through, national political history, as well as puns and jokes to liven up the long bus ride. Anyone could see that, even though this was his occupation, he spent hours of his own time researching facts and information to share with visitors so that we would all fully enjoy our time in and around Belfast. I wish I could have shared a picture of his bewildered face when I initially asked him for his photograph. He asked me, with genuine humility, “wait, are you serious?” His humor made my day so much more enjoyable!
Passion – While in Dublin for an ISA excursion, we met Lorien, our Dublin walking tour guide. Very bubbly, but loaded with information, Lorien shared the history and tales of Ireland’s capital. Often telling humorous anecdotes about the buildings and people which built this stunning city, she was able to interact with each of us individually, answering questions, finding common interests, and filling our two hours with an overload of information that interested us all. My favorite thing about her tour was how much she obviously loved the task of sharing history. Her passion for Irish culture made me personally invested in everything she had to say despite the cold, strong winds that bared down on us.
Hospitality – When in Dublin, do as Dubliners do… drink all the Guinness. This is Oisín, a busy bartender at the rooftop bar of Dublin’s own Guinness Brewery. This bar gets nearly 1.6 million visitors annually and thus requires excellent and prepared staff members to accommodate each and every person. Known as the Gravity Bar, this space can host up to 270 people at a time and offers not only a 360 degree view of Dublin city, but also a free Guinness at the bar, which comes with the storehouse tour entry ticket. Oisín was kind enough to pour my friends and I our first Dublin Guinness. He also, willingly, allowed me to set up a shot and take this lovely picture of him and his continuously welcoming attitude. I can honestly say that I have not met an unruly, or aggressive Irishman, or women, since arriving in this beautiful county in early January.
Knowledge – Let me begin by saying, the Irish ARE storytellers! You always hear it, but once you live among them, it is a daily occurrence to hear someone tell a story, whether you’re in a pub, on the street, or in the Centra or Dunnes next door, you will hear a story. Raymond, is a prime example of the everyday storyteller. Literally, he tells stories on a daily basis. He is a tour guide/bus driver for the Wild Atlantic Way and Cliffs of Moher excursion. Immediately following our departure from the bus station, Raymond pulled out a few jokes, explained what all we would be embarking on that day, and eventually began his storytelling. If we were passing a ruin, there was a story, stopping at a castle, another story, even passing a flock of sheep, he would get into a story about the most dangerous animal in Ireland, which is probably a cow. I believe that storytelling is a genetic gift passed down through the generations of Irish descendants, and this tradition is not going anywhere for a while.
Acceptance – Last but not least, I give you Robert. Originally from England, this kind man eventually moved to the Aran Islands. He shared with me a couple stories about his time here and there as well as other places he has traveled to. His life shows how accepting the Irish have always been to immigrants in the country. I have met so many people from America, India, Canada, and other places throughout the world who decided that Ireland was where they truly belonged, and the Irish people always agreed and took them in with open arms. His book, which he was so excited to share with me, emphasizes just how kind and open this country and its people is. The book is titled, Well Spent Smile. I mean if that doesn’t prove it, I don’t know what will.
Just like Robert, each and everyone of the random Irish citizens that I have met during my time here have offered me so many things; humor, passion, hospitality, knowledge, acceptance, and so much more. There have been multiple instances when friends or family will ask me what my favorite part about my time here in Ireland has been. My answer has always been, and will always be, the people. If I can give any advice to a person who wants to visit Ireland and have the best experience possible, I will always tell them to go to a pub every night, and just sit and talk with an Irishman or two. Trust me.
Your Discovery. Our People… The World Awaits.