Knowing when to return to Ireland isn’t a science, it’s an art.
Here are the top ten signs you may be ready for a return visit.
If you think you can smell turf smoke whilst you walk down Fifth Avenue your Ireland withdrawals may have reached critical mass. It’s time for a visit home.
2. Do You Know Who’s Dead?
The Irish keep tabs on each other like few other races. Who’s up and who’s down, who’s a success and who’s a disgrace, who got married and who dropped dead without warning.
A million nights spent by the fire with a friendly neighbor over for a cuppa start like this. Outsiders can’t understand why we’re so interested in each other, but insiders never feel the need to explain. We’re not a nation, we’re a big dysfunctional family. That explains the casual way we talk to each other in almost every circumstance. Why not head back and keep the score soon in your own local? You know you have a mouth dropping scandal or two to hear about.
3. Sue someone
Your brother or your uncle or your cousin wants to disinherit you. This will be more speedily accomplished if you’re abroad living your new life. Did you know that Irish inheritance law gives preference to whoever is still living there? If you are worried about losing the family farm your concern is not misplaced. Why not head back and throw a spanner in the works of some old biddy who makes Machiavelli look like Shirley Temple? Sue someone, it’ll do your soul good.
If you catch yourself thinking about your first dance in the parish hall or the hotel nightclub with the gorgeous girl or boy who you loved and lost once, that’s a sure sign your poor heart is pining for old Ireland and a chance to go back and remember old times and your old self. Don’t ignore it. It’s what your heart wants. The Irish listen to their hearts.
Other cultures just don’t pace themselves like the Irish, who much prefer a swift current. If your daily interactions feel like wading through molasses, you are in urgent need of a return visit for a short sharp shot of native Irish wit and craic to refresh your gray matter.
Melancholy gets a bad rap. Life isn’t a non-stop party and wiser Irish souls know it. In Ireland there’s no shame in admitting that you don’t always have the right answer, and you don’t always succeed, and that some bright days will never come again. If you want to talk to someone about what it really feels like to live, rather than paper over the cracks, you’ll find more engaged listeners here than almost anywhere else on earth.
The way the light breaks over the water in Ireland is like nowhere else on earth. One moment you’re out for a quick afternoon walk and the next you’ve stumbled into eternity. The Irish poet Patrick Kavanagh called Ireland’s beauty a “spirit shocking wonder.” He was right. If you’re called back to Ireland to walk the land and admire its grandeur you’re thinking like a native, who needs it like they need the air.
Thanks to the work of dedicated chefs like Darina Allen, Irish cooking and baking is finally receiving its due as a world class cuisine. Don’t compare it to the over boiled and under seasoned horrors produced in our neighboring isle to the east. Think instead of a really perfect dish of trout fried in butter and thyme with a wedge of lemon. Think of wheaten soda bread served with butter so rich it could be mistaken for bullion. Think of batch loaves and piping hot tea. If you’re missing Irish cooking you need a trip back.
At least once make time to head back for your grand apology tour. If you lived half a life you know you’re due. Irish people are a passionate lot and that can get them into scrapes betimes. Let’s face it – not all of them will have been your finest moments. Time and tide have a way of revealing to you the errors you made years earlier. Why not head home once and put your affairs in order if you can?
Ireland is ancient and venerable. The moment the plane doors open and you get a hit of that bracing Irish air your IQ will raise by double digits. Forget the dog days of summer here, just go back and drink in the intoxicating air of Ireland. Generations of the most most vivid people to have walked have done likewise and you’ll be among excellent company from the moment you arrive.
Arrah, it’s time. Away on home with you.
* Originally published in July 2014.