Raw, honest travel blog.
I spent two weeks in Ireland over Christmas in 2017.
My goodness, the people are wonderful — funny, warm and welcoming. They spoke a lot. A lot a lot. They were very skilled at making short stories long, and I loved every moment spent with the people I met. The young men in Ireland were particularly friendly. They are very confident flirts, and with that gorgeous Irish accent (that had me daydreaming of Gerald Butler in PS. I Love You), I didn’t mind a second of it. My opportunity to brag here… I got a few marriage proposals, and free coffees, and drink offers, and food. The number of people with an overwhelming desire to feed me was comfortably unsettling!
They spoke very highly of their potatoes, as though they were introducing me to food I had never heard of before. Now, I grew up with my mother’s carbo-holic cooking tendencies, with potatoes made in every form — so the fact that I so gracefully blended into the culture of the potato frenzy, and my ability to not only converse about potato recipes, but cook them too placed me very high on their pedestal.
The food. Potatoes. Potatoes. Potatoes. In every form, in every meal. It was the first meal in a while that made me think of home while I had been aupairing. It was EXACTLY what I was raised eating. Have you ever had your heart feel like it sinks a bit when a memory comes back to you? A bitter-sweet moment thinking of my childhood and not being with my family. It was my first Christmas apart from my family too, so I had a strong attachment to the potatoes that kept getting piled onto my plate. Goodness, what a deep story about potatoes. I get it now, Ireland. I get it.
The weather. The wind was severe and chilly. The two weeks I was in Ireland, the sun came out for a total of about an hour before the dark, grey gloom nestled back into the sky. It was always cold, and always wet. I stayed in the countryside, with sheep farming all around. You know what that means… I missed boots covered by mud. Much more pleasant to clean. I was not-quite-knee-deep in the squishy, smelly sludge provided so frequently by the sheep grazing about. The constant rain feeds the land with gorgeous, luscious green grass — The Emerald Island for sure! The little stone walls so famous to Ireland were everywhere in the countryside, with little stone homes rooted deep into the more untouched spaces of Ireland. The weather drives the locals to the pubs — with not much else to do.
The pubs. There were many. They were everywhere. They were always filled with people. Not the drunk and disorderly, but the fun and brotherly, unitedly singing away to songs that poured out the doors into the streets. One of my fondest memories… “Come on, Eileen” was playing and not long into it, with the pronunciation of my name spreading through the cigarette smoke filled bar, everyone started to scream my name, singing along to the song, with arms intertwined on shoulders, “Come on, Tyleene.” I felt like I was the focus of a national anthem.
The buildings and towns… I stayed in Athlone town. Wow. A quaint, gorgeous little town, preserved in a past era. It was heart throbbing. Tiny streets, walled by tiny stores. The roads were TINY and a little intimidating to drive on. The buildings fed into one another, each uniquely coloured in faded, pastel paints. The roads were perpetually rain-tinted, and with the Christmas lights suspended overhead that glistened in the waters on the roads under the gloomy skies, with the soundtrack to PS. I Love You echoing through the street, it felt like magic.
PS. I love you, Ireland.