Nothing like cooling with the lads!

On the field or should I say the pitch

When I arrived in Ireland I sensed that the atmosphere was noticeably different than in the United States. It was something really familiar about the way they treat people which reminded me of home in Bermuda. Everyone is so friendly and inviting, which gave me a special feeling inside that added to the experience.

Cute little girl with Grandpa

One of my best experiences came at the Valley House in Achill Island. On the last day I met a young lad by the name of Fionn who was 19. He was starting university soon and planned to take up mechanical engineering which I discovered after a rigorous conversation. He was such a gracious young man who had a vibrant personality. We talked about our lives with one another for the entire night over several pints of Heineken and Guinness. He gave me a sense of belonging when we conversed which made the conversation so smooth as I felt comfortable. As we  learned more about each others lives Fionn said “What’s mines in yours that’s how it is in Ireland!”. Even though the phrase seems pretty generic I could appreciate what he meant as he described how generosity plays a huge role in Irish culture. He told me that it goes beyond being friendly and that the Irish take pride in how they treat people as its by no means an act. I didn’t want to impose on him but he insisted on getting me several beers throughout the night. He also refused to take any money I offered which was surprising. Even after all that alcohol he still invited me to his house for a drink after the bar which was awesome as he only lived a few steps past Masterson’s Bar and Restaurant. It was a pleasant and peaceful walk in the early morning that allowed me to see Ireland from a different perspective. It was almost as If I was dreaming and the world was standing still for us. I throughly enjoyed my night and couldn’t be any happier to have enjoyed the night with him. However, even before meeting Fionn I had met someone who was possibly the blueprint for how the Irish act and engage with others.

It was Desmond our coach driver who was an extremely genuine person and the best possible person to enlighten us on the landscape, history and culture of Ireland. I became really close with him after he helped me locate my wallet when I thought I had lost it which really helped my day and completely brightened my mood. That could’ve been a negative turning point for me on the trip to be without money. I was completely grateful for his calming personality. Ireland’s been such an inviting place and it was the same when I went to the local GAA pitch as the kids there were so welcoming. They taught me how to play hurling and all of the rules of the game! It was such a great experience even in the short time I spent with them and I even got to take great pictures with and of them! Desmon, Fionn and the children were only a handful of people that I met on the trip who embodied the Irish way of life. I couldn’t be any more thankful to have met them and all the natives who have made this experience a true blessing and highlight of my young life.

Food

Out of the many things I have noticed about the food in Ireland, what stands out the most is the different names that they have for the same foods. Our group ate lunch at a small café while we were passing through Tipperary at which the waitress asked Kyle and I if we wanted a salad with our burger. Little did we know that “salad” was code word for cheese, lettuce, tomato, and fixings so we ended up with just a plain burger. However, when the waitress asked Sarah the same question she was brought out an actual garden salad on the side with her meal. Along with salad, French fries are called “chips” in Ireland. Usually enjoyed with ketchup, I had chips almost every day of the trip sometimes even multiple times a day. I jumped on the malt vinegar bandwagon, as the Irish enjoy sprinkling a bit on them to give the fries a bit of a kick.

Along with the chips, I found the beef stew and the chicken goujons to be my two most favorite meals. Especially this chicken goujon sandwich that I had in Ennis at The Abbey Tavern  during one of my last few days in Ireland. For only €6.50, the sandwich was served inside of a pretzel bun and mixed in with chunks of bacon with melted cheese on top, this sandwich was simply delectable.  Served of course with chips on the side along with a coleslaw salad, the pretzel bun was toasted to perfection  creating a smooth combination when dipped into some BBQ or sweet chili sauce. The bacon here tasted almost like chorizo, which is much different than the rest of the countryside where they present bacon in a ham steak like fashion.

Chicken goujon sandwich
Chicken goujon sandwich

 

 

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