Unfortunately, my site crashed a few days ago. With the crash, I lost all my data since October of 2013. Please just bear with me and I’ll have it fixed in no time. :)
Sitting in the backyard with the wind blowing and the sun beating down is quite nice. For the moment, I’m staying on the East Coast in the United States and life is considerably different than it was in Ireland. After arriving back in the US and telling friends, family and, if I’m to be completely honest, anyone who would listen to my ramblings about the Emerald Isle, I was very surprised by two things. One, many people don’t know the difference in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Two, many people don’t know that Ireland is extremely rainy almost all year long.
For anyone who is curious, I lived and worked in the Republic of Ireland. For the most part, when someone says “Ireland,” they are referring to the republic. It is part of the European Union and is a sovereign state in Europe. Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Kerry and Galway are in the Republic of Ireland. Northern Ireland is a part of the United Kingdom located in the northeast. Northern Ireland claims the cities of Belfast and Derry. The Republic of Ireland uses the Euro and Northern Ireland uses the Pound, so if you’re traveling the island, make sure you have both currencies!
As far as the climate in Ireland: it rains significant amount. It isn’t a typical rainfall you might be accustomed to in the US, though. It’s more of a drizzle or “lashing rain” as it is commonly referred to. You usually will not get soaked being out and about, but it is enough to be a nuisance. The Atlantic frontal systems are to blame for the majority of the rain. Since these systems travel northeast, prepare to deal with more rain when you’re on the west part of the island opposed to the east.
Moving to Ireland was a relatively last minute decision. I was told that in order to get my visa, I would have to be in Ireland no later than May 5, 2013. I applied in the middle of March. When my visa (along with my passport) hadn’t arrived the fourth week of April, I didn’t think I would be able to go. One week before I was to depart, I came home to a package notice from the post office. Voila, I left New York, bound for Dublin seven days later. I arrived in Dublin at 5:00 AM jet-lagged, knowing not a soul with no idea how to get around, no way to contact anyone and no clue what I was doing. I was a bit more unprepared than I would care to admit. I stepped off the plane and the first thought in my head was, “What the heck are you doing?!”
The next five hours were a whirlwind of finding a bus, navigating my way to Limerick and trying to process that I had just landed in Ireland with naught more than a small suitcase and a passport. After getting off at the wrong stop, getting lost and finally making my way to Arthurs Quay (pronounced “key” – please save yourself the embarrassment and don’t butcher the word as I did), I finally met my Workaway host family. And boom! My Irish adventure began! While Workaway turned out to be a complete disaster and I would never recommend it to anyone, I was able to see some pretty amazing places during my first two weeks with my host family. My first visit was to the beautiful Ballybunion and it was a place more beautiful than pictures could ever show or words could ever describe.
There’s a lovely little castle in ruins on a cliff at the beach that you can go explore, even though there’s hardly anything left. There are also little “caves” in the side of the cliff at Ballybunion that you can walk through. Although it was the first place in Ireland I visited, it made a lasting impression and is definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
I know, I know. Today was my deadline to start sharing stories, photos and adventures and it has been an epic fail. I keep sorting through pictures, thinking about Ireland and trying to figure out exactly where to start. Everything has become a bit overwhelming. Sorting through notes, pictures and memories of living in Ireland and backpacking through fourteen other countries in Europe has been so exciting but also daunting. Please, please bear with me for just a couple of days. I’ll do everything I can to make it worth your while, I promise!
After arriving back to the United States safe and sound, it is nearly time to share my adventures with the world. Photos abound, stories are infinite and tales of my travels will be coming to a device near you soon. So count down. October 1, 2013 is the official launch of “Escapades through Ireland.” Get excited!
I have now been in Ireland for two months. Half of my time here has come and gone, and half remains. Ireland has exceeded all expectations I had; it’s everything I thought it would be and more. It has lush, rolling green hills and the natural scenery reminds me of Tennessee a great deal. The cities are similar to many old European cities with small, quaint houses cobblestone streets, an abundance of pubs, streets dedicated solely to shopping, intricately detailed abbeys and cathedrals and people on foot or bicycles everywhere you turn. There are buskars on many street corners, artists drawing or creating something unique on the sidewalk, people doing acts in the city centre such as singing and dancing puppet shows, women with string giving girls hair wraps, a random man levitating, and more that you could never imagine that I have yet to see. Markets are bustling with people and offering everything from local produce to fresh bread, homemade pies, artisan cheese, Irish meats and specialty olives. Plus there are castles dotted everywhere. Ireland truly is beautiful and it’s one of those places where pictures really don’t do it justice. But it’s more than just lovely landscapes. Part of what makes Ireland so beautiful is the culture, the history, the music and the people. The country is filled with people when you ask them for directions, will talk to you for an hour. They are eager to hear your story and they want to know where you’re from and how you discovered their wonderful island. By the time you leave you not only have descriptive directions with tidbits of history thrown in about things and places along your path, but you also have a friend. The people and the life-style are very laid-back. No one is in a hurry to do anything. At times, this can be very frustrating, especially coming from the fast-paced life found in the States. However, once you get on board with this lifestyle change, you have the opportunity to reflect and appreciate the little things. One of the best things about Ireland I have been able to appreciate is the music. Nearly every night, tiny, ancient pubs will have traditional music. I am not referring to the tourist pubs, I am talking about the true Irish music in hole-in-the-wall pubs. Though I wouldn’t classify pubs to be commercial necessarily, many are focused and geared towards tourists. It’s the pubs that locals go to that are hands down the best.
Moving to Ireland has been an experience like no other. I have been pushed so far beyond my comfort zone, met amazing people, had crazy and wonderful experiences and grown as a person. Ireland is phenomenal and I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything. More information, stories, adventures and pictures to come soon!
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