Happy St Paddy’s Day! What kind of travel site would this be if I didn’t mention Ireland on this particular occasion? Since I’ve never been there, but I’m married to someone who has, I decided to put together a little Q&A “Flashback Friday” post. It would be cool to make this a regularly occurring feature, don’t you think? Contact me to participate!
Doug agreed to stroll down memory lane and share with us some impressions of his trip to Ireland several years ago.
When did you visit Ireland?
In January 2010 on a college interterm trip; I was taking a C.S. Lewis literature course, and we spent a few days in Ireland between visiting England and traveling to the author’s birthplace in Northern Ireland. This was my first trip traveling outside of the USA so I was overwhelmed with excitement!
What cities did you visit? Which did you prefer?
I only spent a few days in Dublin, but we did travel north out of the city into Northern Ireland and I’ve never seen greener hills that were so picturesquely covered with grazing sheep.
What was your first impression of this country? Did it change during your brief time there?
What really struck me first was the blue-collar and gritty, yet warm and genuine vibe that Dublin and its inhabitants exhibited. The customs officer who I approached entering the country grouchily asked me why I was visiting and wanted lots of details, which I found to be a very intimidating first impression. Every other interaction I had with the people was incredibly warm and genuine.
Share with me one of your favorite memories from your visit.
I’ll never forget a night our group spent having dinner with a private show by two musicians billed “Mike and Mike.” They sang Irish folk songs with just two guitars and their voices, which was so moving. It was the most intimate and beautiful show I’ve ever witnessed. The range of emotion in their songs varied greatly—songs of love lost, songs of famine, war and poverty, as well as songs of humor, brevity and every day life for a Dubliner. I feel like I learned so much about the Irish people just from these songs and the anecdotes the two would tell in between. It was really special and memorable even though it may sound a bit cliche or touristy—but I’m telling you—I glimpsed the heart of the Irish people through these amazing guys!
What would you recommend for a person looking at exploring Dublin for the first time?
My advice would be to listen to the recommendations of the locals. I spent such a short time in Ireland that I don’t feel like I have any expert knowledge, but if you find yourself in Dublin pondering what to do, spend a day walking the length of the River Liffey. Start from the spire and go all the way to the sea, and you’ll find a connection with all of the subtle beauty the city has to offer.
Interview responses by Doug Jackson. All photos by Doug Jackson.
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