Ireland, the country that both figuratively and literally stole my heart. After visiting this country a couple of times over the last year, I must say it starts to feel as coming home. If you’re looking for good weather, don’t have high expectations of Ireland. If you’re looking for friendly people, having craic -fun- in the best pubs and the smell of fireplaces wherever you go: you’ve found your new favorite country!
Before I met my Irish boyfriend, I honestly didn’t know that much about Ireland -why was there even a Northern-Ireland and a ‘normal’ Ireland? It didn’t make sense to me! You can imagine I’ve learned quite some things about the Irish history so far, especially since it’s a very proud nation: who else would write on a wall “I’m Irish, what’s your superpower?” I guess you get what I mean now ;).
What you need to know about the island is that Northern-Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, while (the Republic of) Ireland isn’t; they fought for their freedom and got their indepence in the beginning of the 20th century after being ruled over by England for hundreds of years. Because of the English domination, only a minority of the Irish speak the Irish language and the majority speaks English as a first language (and it’s the reason why they drive on the
wrong left side of the road).
The country has about 4 million inhabitants, with almost half of them living in and around Dublin (ever heard of the joke that more sheep than people live in Ireland?). Besides the capital, there are only four cities in Ireland. You can imagine what this “geographical distribution” does to the density of the population elsewhere in the country. Driving through Ireland you’ll have many moments of being in the middle of nowhere. However, this is one of Ireland’s charms! Because, where else do you find little towns with only a pub (I mean, we’re still talking about Ireland;)) and a convenience store down the road? Where else do you find all this untouched nature? And where else do you find those small roads that basically only fit one-way traffic? Ireland is a special country, especially in these days.
What I really like about Ireland is that the country holds on to some old customs. While most countries are only pressing the fast-forward button, Ireland still values the pause button every now and then. The smell of fireplaces wherever you go is normal –they don’t even notice it anymore. While many people only use central heating these days, the Irish still use fireplaces to heat up the house and the water supply. And I must say I absolutely love these fireplaces! Because let’s be honest, nothing beats the cosy feeling of sitting in front of a fireplace to heat up. Another example of Ireland’s preference of the pause button concerns the school system. Dressed in school uniforms, the girls and boys go to seperate schools that are still run by nuns -I’m still having troubles wrapping my head around it.
Besides their sparsely populated country, beautiful nature and love for the pause button, what else makes up for the superpower of the Irish? Their friendliness. Whereover you go, you’ll always be welcomed with a friendly “Hi lads, how are ye” (A “not too bad” answer will make you sound like a local right away;)).
And where’s the best place to meet some friendly Irish people? Exactly, where they love going to the most: the pub! What’s special about the Irish pubs is that no matter where you go in the world, there will always be one. And I understand why; Irish pubs have a way of welcoming everyone, making everyone feel at home and having fun all together. The Irish will never back out from a friendly chat with a stranger, especially when having a pint of Guinness in their hands (I mean, you can’t expect this proud nation to drink another beer, can you?)!
The Irish weren’t being cocky when they wrote “I’m Irish, what’s your superpower?”. In my opinion, they actually have some superpowers! What do you think?