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 a 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.