Getting off the American treadmill to live the Irish dream

"That decision changed our lives. I still remember our first time flying into Shannon, being mesmerized."

Rather than bemoaning that the coffee was terrible, we simply switched to good Irish tea. We came to enjoy the more important aspects of Irish life — an unyielding sense of humor even in the face of adversity, an appreciation for the physical beauty that naturally adorns the country, a love of music, dance and the arts generally, and the fabulous craic. 

After we’d returned a number of times, the locals understood that we weren’t just vacationing in the village. We were living there, and they came to accept us as belonging there, eventually bestowing on us the honored moniker of being “fierce locals.”

We stopped obsessing about our respective business worlds. Instead of looking forward to trial dates and overseas shipments, we looked forward to having the local pub owner whisper to us the dinner specials, whispered so that only us locals, not the tourists, would know. We adored receiving our mail by having it placed on the window ledge outside our cottage with a stone on top to keep it from being blown away. We didn’t need more “things”. What we enjoyed was a cuppa with a villager with whom to share some local gossip.

Years passed. We ratcheted down our business lives. We spent more time in Ireland, deciding that the riches we gained by living in this tiny village far outweighed the other kind of riches we could accrue by living full-time as city slickers. You couldn’t put a price on having Patsy Noonan, the roof thatcher, wave to us from across the street, yelling, “Harvey, Missus, Yer as welcome as the flowers in May”, and us waving back and yelling, 
“And how’s yer good self, Patsy?”

Tourists would gawk at us, wondering how a few Yanks seemed to belong there. We’d just smile, walk on our way and say to each other, “We are, by God, fierce locals. They can have their city slicker lives; we’ll take more of this one.”

And to this day, we continue to do.

Harvey Gould is a former trial lawyer who splits his time between San Francisco and Ireland  with his wife, Karen. Gould’s memoir, A Fierce Local: Memoirs of My Love Affair with Ireland, chronicles 20 years of Irish adventures, from drinking Guinness straight from the tap to exhilarating foxhunts. For more information, visit or Gould’s blog at