Cuisle: My Favorite Irish Word and Its Impact on Me

For being in a different country, the notion was entirely American.  

I mean here we were: five study abroad students who just met and decided to enjoy some live music at a restaurant on our first night in Ireland. The two Irishmen, a guitarist and a fiddler, get up to play their set.  

We, of course, scream every song, especially the American country songs, for two hours straight. I’ve known these people for less than 24 hours, but I was having the time of my life. Good music, good people, and good food made me want to learn more about the people here and their language.  

After the set was done, we invited the musicians over to our table and talked until closing time. My goal when I got here was to befriend a local and really try to immerse myself into their culture and lifestyle. And that’s exactly what we did.  

Over the last three weeks, every Wednesday we’ve gone and listened to them play live music at O’Neill’s in our university town and became friends with them. One of my favorite things to do is talk about life with someone who grew up significantly different than me. So, on live music night or seeing them casually around town like at trivia night at another restaurant, we talk to them about life.  

One topic of conversation that always seems to come up is their band name. “Cuisle” is an Irish word that means heartbeat or pulse. They chose this name because of the feeling you get when playing music. A heartbeat can come in so many different meanings. It gives you life. Your pulse travels through you and makes you feel alive.  

Genuinely, it started out as two Irish musicians, but it has become so much more than that. Being at live music every week in Ireland with the best people, traveling across this country and others, falling in love with people and feelings, study abroad in general, has given me a heartbeat again. As someone who has never been out of my home country, but who loves to travel, I constantly struggle with getting in slumps of not feeling like I’m truly living.  

Shot with NOMO CAM FR2.

My heart has felt alive again since being here. I forget how it feels to be truly happy. Even when school is a little stressful and I have to write a 3,000-word essay over medieval Ireland in three days, I still feel fundamentally happy.  

Cuisle—the word, the people, the music, the heartbeat I feel—has made me feel truly alive again. I had no idea at the beginning of this that studying in another country would change me like it has. I believe cuisle is a romantic term. It has sparked my love of a country, a lifestyle, and its people.  

Like I said, it has become so much more than two musicians playing renditions of “Wagon Wheel” on a weeknight. It’s a beautiful Irish word for feeling alive and that’s exactly what these three and a half weeks have done for me. Listening to a playlist a friend made you on a bus ride through the Irish countryside, journaling at a coffee shop when it’s raining, the travelers that you briefly fall in love with for a moment in time, the peace you feel when looking out on the edge of the ocean—that is cuisle.

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