June is already here, which means my fifth blog on the Emerald Isle is due! This series started in February as my humble homage to this amazing island which is home to me. Here I am, in June getting the last one ready. I have to say it has been incredibly enjoyable to try and put into words what these five years have meant. At the same time, it has not been easy to summarize all the good memories, the funny anecdotes, the amazing experiences, the unforgettable paths, the moments shared. Let’s get down to business: The Emerald Isle, its Irishness. The initial list was long, but the chosen are for me the most remarkable ones. This time, I have made my mind up beforehand so I can officially say that I have the finalists aligned: thanking the bus driver, saying sorry, The Late Late Toy Show, the generosity of the Irish, the weather, the world goes green, Saint Brigid’s Day, ceol agus craic and the friendliness of the Irish.
It did not take me long to realise that people do actually thank the bus driver as they are getting off the bus. It took me a while though to feel comfortable saying thanks myself. One would never say thanks to a bus driver in Catalonia. Five years later, I feel kind of annoyed when people do not thank the driver! It is such a nice thing to do, it shows good manners indeed. The same as people saying sorry when they accidentally bump into you on the street, in the supermarket, wherever. They may not even have touched you, but they still do say sorry. The thing is that now I say sorry when I in Catalonia visiting family, but nobody seems to understand why as they look at me confused! Politeness, many countries lack it. Thanking the bus driver and saying sorry, what a nice heritage!
Since 1975, The Late Late Toy Show has become a Christmas tradition in most Irish homes. It is not just for children, or for families with kids, it is for everyone. It gathers families together, in the sitting room, in front of the tv, with a cup of tea and a blanket. It brings the whole country together. It makes us all feel special! It would not feel like Christmas if the show was not on. I have been watching it every year since I moved to Ireland and now, we even mark it on our calendar in the kitchen. Full of surprises, funny moments, touching stories, great opportunities, and human kindness.
The Generosity of the Irish is a must for me in this blog. Being such a small country, Ireland has a big heart when it comes to support others. I would dare to say it is the most generous country in Europe and very high up in the world ranking. During Covid, when people were out of work, donations kept going to contribute to uncountable projects in need. At a national level, or at a local level, people just give as much as they can to help others all year round. Whether it is money, food, clothes or whatever is needed, the Irish are more than eager to give what they can. It is contagious, you cannot help but do the same. The kindness of the Irish is for sure a heritage to celebrate!
The weather, the number one topic of conversation in Ireland. It is the perfect ice breaking on any occasion you may find yourself: in a lift, at the queue for the toilet, at the till at the supermarket, when ordering a coffee, waiting for the traffic light to turn green, talking to the shop assistant, or just simply when sharing a look with a stranger on the street. No wonder why it is such an important matter: four seasons in one day all year round! You get up in the morning to a beautiful, blue-skied day, not a cloud on the horizon. By midday the sky has turned grey, and the wind is howling. It is lunch time, you look outside and the wildest of the wildest weather is there: hailstones, strong winds and of course, torrential rain. And then, as if nothing had happened, the sun is back, and it feels like summer! Going out for a walk is the best thing to do, one naively thinks. Halfway through, it is starts to rain, one of those showers … at least we don’t melt in the rain …Lol.
Nearly everyone knows or has heard of Saint Patrick’s Day. What amazes me is how Ireland and its people have managed to make the world go green! It is so powerful: people from all over the world travel to Dublin to join in the celebrations as well as people all over the world wear something green to cherish the festivities. It is a day to embrace the Irishness! My great discovery has been Saint Brigid’s Day, on the first of February, halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. She happens to be the saint patroness of Ireland. This day marks the beginning of spring and celebrates fertility. It has its roots in the ancient Celtic festival of Imbolc, where Brigid was known as a pagan goddess. I am drawn to Celtic traditions, for reasons unknown, and my soul nourishes with the power of the ancient Celts. I do now have my own version of the Brigid’s cross hanging behind the door.
Ceol agus craic (music and fun) are also part of the Irishness. The immensity of Irish music is incredible as I said in one of my previous blogs. Wherever you go music is being played, is being sung: at the hairdresser, on the street, in a craft market, in a public garden, in a pub. People sing along without any worries on what others will think. Most of the Irish have that wicked sense humour, sharp and bitter. Luckily, I also have it, probably thanks to my dad. They laugh about everything, including themselves. They call it sarcasm. I love it, it is so me.
The last, but not the least, the friendliness of the Irish. I have already written about it on the first blog of these series, but I feel like I have to add it to this last one. They make you feel welcome straight away, they are always ensuring you are part of the conversation, they treat you as one of them. They offer you a cup of tea even though you are a stranger, for them you are just a nice soul to share a brew with. They are always ready to help. Their home it is always your home, and they do mean it when they say “call by and say hello”. You have not even finished asking for something that they are getting it for you.
My humble homage to the emerald isle as I am heading to my fifth-year anniversary of moving here, has come to an end. Thanks to all of you who have read and commented on my blogs, who have given me the pleasure of your company along this journey, who have inspired me to discover the uniqueness of this amazing island which is now home to me.
Go raibth mile maith agaibh go leir agus sláinte anois!
Jay Cee Moon ©