An Irish Community, Through Thick and Thin

Irish Flag, swinging from a boat passing the Cliffs of Moher

A woman on the radio explains, with a choked voice, an abortion she underwent at a young age. Her story was told in the growing aftermath of the vote which took place May 25, and the initial polls revealed that it would be a yes to repealing the 8th amendment, a law which banned abortion in Ireland. The woman on the radio admitted she was afraid most people would vote no, to keep the amendment in place. Upon hearing this was not the case, the woman stated, “It’s incredible. I should have had more faith in the Irish people.”

In the two weeks I travelled in Ireland, I frequently felt an overwhelming sense of community among the Irish. I stayed in several towns that were located in more rural areas, and it seemed that most people living there appeared to be extremely friendly with each other. The first example of this I experienced was at Ryan’s Corner House, a pub in Cloughjordan. A group of us went to this pub to buy a drink, and it immediately became clear that the Irish living there were relatively close with one another. Nearly every time someone entered the pub, a group of people already seated would greet that person by name. This was a complete change from the bars in the United States, where most are only familiar with the people they came with. While not every town in Ireland may have that same familiarity as Cloughjordan, I experienced similar instances in other places around the country. In Ennis, there was a pub called Yolo with an outside seating area. There was a group of older Irish men smoking, and I saw them offer lights and cigarettes to other people around them, some of whom were complete strangers. There was a band performing at that same pub, and they played one traditional Irish song that I did not recognize. The other people at the pub, clearly Irish, all began singing along to this song together.

The Irish people at that pub in Ennis, like many other pubs I visited along the way, all seemed to share something interpersonal that I, an outsider of the country, could not relate to. It was refreshing to see people with such a strong sense of community. Even more refreshing was to see that this sense of community did not seem to fall apart during instances of tension, like the woman on the radio explained. To me, the vote revealed the strength of the Irish community.

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