My first impression of the hostel was a conversation I overheard in the lobby. I heard Linda, the owner of Bru hostel, telling a group of people that there is a water shortage on the island of Inis Oirr. I did not understand the severity of this statement and the impact water scarcity has on the people of Ireland. In the winters it has not been raining enough so therefore the water shuts off at 8:30 at night and does not come back on until 8:30 in the morning. On Inis Oirr, I learned that the water comes from reservoirs, but due to the insufficient amount of rain, sometimes these reservoirs have to be filled up. Other times, water must be taken from the mainland. To most of us, the water shortage seemed like the biggest inconvenience. To many of us, the words “shorter showers” or “less water” are concepts that are foreign to us. When I hear the words, water shortage, I think about myself and how I am going to be able to take shorter showers or not flush. I subconsciously turn a global water issue into a personal problem. I do not think we realize how lucky we are to have access to fresh, clean water at our disposal. For the people of Inis Oirr, rain is crucial to their overall ability to thrive in everyday society. We do not know what this feels like because we are lucky enough to not have to worry about water shortages. We take water for granted, knowing there are people out there who struggle daily to gain access to fresh water.
As our time in Inis Oirr comes to a close, I look at the weather in Ireland in a new way. For tourists, the beautiful sunny days are a blessing and as we get ready to leave Ireland, I am elated that the weather was beautiful for the whole two weeks we were here. For people who live in Ireland, the lack of rain is a serious issue and two weeks without substantial rain puts them in a dangerous position. Great weather, which we pray for, limits the amount of water that is available to people. The rain bothers us, but the people of Inis Oirr feel a sense of relief when a significant amount of rain is deposited into their reservoirs. Linda does not tell people about the water shortage as a suggestion to take shorter showers. Linda informs her guests because tourists who come in need to be aware of the water shortages and think about the ways in which they can change their behavior. It is time we stop focusing on the inconvenience of taking shorter showers and start thinking about how inconvenient it is for the people on this island to not have access to an abundance of water. Our reaction to the words “water shortage” needs to change and we need to seriously think about how our presence on these islands affects the people of Inis Oirr.