(There’s a video attached below so don’t miss that!)
“Here’s another one for ye lasses.” John dutifully swigged back his pint, closed his eyes and began to bellow – “It’s a long way to Tipperaaary to the sweetest gal I knooOoOw – what the FECK?!” Just as two other voices joined in, their song was cut short with a blow to the back of John’s head by a flying beer coaster.
“SHATTAP YE FECKING EEJIT!” John swivelled round and met the stern glare of a red bearded, arms crossed figure who stood poised and ready to throw another soaked beer coaster across the room – Aedan, the barman.
“We’re closing up soon!” He barked, momentarily breaking eye contact to swiftly jostle empty pints of Bulmer’s and Guinness into the sink.
‘Closing up?’ I thought as I glanced around the room. A fire roared cozily in the corner, casting dancing shadows on the small clusters of people perching precariously from their bar stools, still sipping on half empty (or full?) pints. While the musicians and the foot stomping dancing had already retired for the night, I heard John and the lads behind me continue to wail on another love song about another sweet lass from another small village of in the south of Ireland. From behind the counter, the red bearded barman momentarily halted his relentless scrub of the bar’s counter to throw down his towel, give a small chuckle and shake his heard. The clock above his head read 2:00 am. Even he knew it – the Celts were far from closing time.
Ah, Ireland. The magical land that has captivated thousands of hearts all around the world. Girls mentally booked a one-way ticket to Dublin in 2007 after bawling their eyes out in ‘P. S I love you’ while men continue to use their 5% claimed Irish blood to thoroughly enjoy the holidays that excuse borderline alcoholic tendencies (excuse the stereotypes). Ah yes, the Irish. With their tendency for fun, articulate and rich literacy, leprechauns, and the fighting spirit of the underdog working class, the stereotype is almost too fun and good to be true. And while the grass may literally be greener across the pond, I couldn’t help but notice the unexpected debris that littered the parks and piled up on the streets.
Don’t be fooled. Our first night out at the Celts may have been a storybook beginning to our time in the Emerald Isle, but I quickly learned that unlike most stereotypes conceived abroad – Ireland is no perfect fairytale. For years I had been dreaming of what it would be like to set foot in Ireland. To escape to a fairytale land where leprechauns hid gold, all boys looked and sounded like Hozier, where crooked rivers would snake under moss ridden cobbled stone bridges and the thumping music from the local pubs would rise high above the thatched roofs and away into the pink-purple contrail streaked sky. With those expectations, how could I have not been expected to be shocked by reality?
(Funny to think that out of all the places I’ve been, my first true experience of culture shock was in Ireland)
I quickly learned that the country I had so longed dreamed of was not brand spanking spotless. Dublin wasn’t the jewelled city that I had envisioned it to be, nor did everyone smile and tip their hats to us as we passed by and never had I anticipated that I’d be running along the Cliffs of Moher coast, hunting down the swirling empty plastic bags of fertiliser that were close to plunging over the edge.
But once I admitted to myself that I had set unrealistically high expectations and finally overcame what I would describe as culture shock, I began to see Ireland through different lens. Perhaps it was the puzzling sunny weather magically bestowed upon us or my growing appreciation for high-quality beer paired with live music. Either way, I began to equally love Ireland for its rough edges and perfect cuts – It was raw, genuine and grand.
And isn’t that why we travel?
Right when we believe we’ve stepped far out enough of our comfort zones, we reteach ourselves all over again that there are always expectations to be shattered, room to gain new perspectives, and time to fall in love with strangers you’ve just met and places you’ve only arrived at.
The Emerald Isle does deserve its namesake. While there wasn’t one exact location in Ireland that I can honestly say I’d like to spend the rest of my life at, it’s the country as a whole that calls me to return. For reasons I can’t explain, there’s a raw and unique quality to the country that will leave an unexpected mark on you. Something will ingrain itself into your bones and make you feel at home. As you’re gazing out at and rising high above the green and yellow dotted horizon through your plane window, an unexpected pang of homesickness will rush through your body. Wait a month later and you’ll still be homesick for Ireland. I don’t expect for the feeling to withdraw any time soon.
And they don’t lie when they say that Guinness doesn’t travel well – guess you better get on.
(TLDR – look at the photos)
Ring of Kerry Tour
Rock of Cashel
The full works Irish breakfast complete with blood pudding (2 sausage-y looking things on the right side of the plate)
So what have I still got up my sleeve from Europe? WELL! I’ve finally come around to making a fun video
featuring mostly my beautiful sister (I promise you won’t get sick of her face).Just click on the photo below
and voila, you’ll see it!
Seattle’s treated me incredibly well for the past three weeks, but T-3 days until I leave for Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands to begin my summer job!
Here’s to eternal sunshine and summer vibes,