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1. It’s really pretty here.

Exhibit 1:

Stop it with the beauty already! No, don’t, I’m just teasing. You’re amazing, Ireland.

2. People are super friendly.
Example: When I arrived in Cork, I was set up for housing for my dance weekend with friends of one of the coordinators. Not only did they welcome me into their home without having any clue who I was, they also let me stay for a couple extra days beyond the dance weekend. Then, I stayed with another friend I made during the event.
Cost of housing in Cork? $0.
Value of connecting with kind people and making friends? Priceless.

3. Live music is a huge part of the culture. 
Seriously, I feel like it’s as close to living in a musical as possible. Example: People have what’s called a “party piece.” This is basically a song or poem or story or dance or whatever you have prepared–usually music–that you end up performing at a party. Or even a pub. Normal people have these, because basically Ireland is a nation of singers, regardless of training or skill level. If you can talk you can sing, and I love when the pub falls quiet and someone gets up and does their thang and everyone listens, and then, as soon as it’s over, folks return to the hubbub of conversation until a hush falls again later for the next person.

As a music lover, it’s paradise.

4. You can’t beat an Irish accent.
I guess this is all a matter of taste, but I love the lilt and musicality of the Irish brogue. I definitely can’t tell the difference between accents from cities or towns or anything, but a friend of mine showed me some really hilarious YouTube clips that are good examples of varying Irish accents. This is my favorite. It was funnier once I understood the joke, so the minimal background necessary to appreciate this was as follows:

  • people from Cork apparently have thick accents and tend to add “boy” to the end of things, which to American ears sounds like “bye”
  • people from Dublin swear a ton all over the place. Their sentences are peppered with “bleedin'” and the f-bomb, etc.

Also, the chickens are just so well done.

5. Ireland is full of good craic and people who encourage it/want to have it/instigate it.
What is craic? Craic is Irish for “fun.” It’s pronounced like “crack,” so when you come to Ireland, you have to ask, “Where’s the craic?” and people will tell you where all the hot spots are for a good time. So far, I don’t think I am cool enough for the level of craic Ireland has to offer, nor could my old lady tendencies withstand permanent residence here, but perhaps it’d evolve with the amount of time spent in the country. All the people I’ve met here have been full of a really lovely, live-in-the-moment energy that can mean they’ll be happy to share stories at the bar until closing or swing dance with strangers to whatever the DJ is cranking out, even though there’s hardly any room to move.

My time here is flying by. Right now I’m working in a hostel in Kilkenny and appreciating the many live music options. I’ve also learned that I far prefer Smithwicks (brewed here in Kilkenny!) to Guinness (sorry, folks) and that Irish stew is one of the best things to eat on a cloudy November day.