5 Things I Learnt in Ireland

In the spring of 2011, I spent a long-weekend in Dublin, Ireland thanks to the golden rule: if you make the journey to England, you must also journey somewhere new; and with every new adventure comes unique lessons to be learnt:

1. Know your geopolitics
Once, a girl I worked with mentioned in passing that her parents were beginning a trip to the U.K with a weekend in Dublin. Here, I corrected her by saying that Dublin was actually in Ireland, not Northern Ireland to which she replied ‘same thing’. Ouch. With such a touchy subject, it’s best to get your facts straight before potentially offending locals with avoidable ignorance.

2. Guinness will never be my cup of tea
Don’t get me wrong – I like beer but Guinness, whether you love it or you hate it, is in a commercial league of its own. I’ve sampled a pint on several brave St. Patrick’s days but the end result is usually the same: a shudder, a head shake and a face as bitter as the liquid itself. It was no surprise then that my reaction at Gravity Bar (the final stop of the Guinness brewery tour, with panoramic views of old Dublin) was largely the same. It was the freshest pint I ever could have hoped for but the conversion tactic was to no avail. I’m sorry Arthur Guinness, but you can’t win ’em all.

Hello Dublin, from the Guinness Gravity Bar

3.Irish accents make me sleepy
Every girl loves a guy with an accent and I must confess that Irish is one of my personal favourites. Whether it be the man at the coffee shop or the tour guide driving the bus, there is something about that soft spoken slur, rolling like the Irish hills that causes my breathing to slow and my eyelids to heavy. I caught myself twice dozing off in public before due time! Admittance into Ireland should come with a caution: side effects may include drowsiness.

4.Don’t hestitate, just buy

Sunset over the River Liffey

Have you ever returned from a holiday and felt annoyed at yourself not buying something? This happened to me when for some unknown reason, I stubbornly refused to purchase The Dubliners by James Joyce in its town of origin for a measly €3. ‘You’ll regret it’, my mother said – and we all know that mothers are always right. It plagues my mind still now, despite the fact that I was given the book the following Christmas. The lesson of the story is: if you want it, buy it – it may be your only chance.

5. Check ahead for potential inconveniences 
Our trip to Ireland was fairly spontaneous and outside of peak months but despite this we still suffered from the long transportation delays and crowded streets associated with high tourism. Why? Well it just so happened that the very day our ferry touched the Dublin shores, we were welcomed with red, white and blue banners.  These – to my disappointment – were not for us. President Obama (or should I say O’ Bama!) was in town, as was the Queen not a week before. In preparation, roads had be closed which resulted in an extended wait time for taxis. Maybe it would have been a good idea to anticipate complications and give Barack some breathing space.

There is so much more of Ireland I yearn to see; visting the heart of the country was enough to wet anyone’s appetite! Next time, my goal is to kiss The Blarney Stone but along the journey, I’ll be sure to keep my lessons learnt in mind.

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