As Irish rural life declines, it's no wonder that the Irish community worldwide, find little of what they expect Ireland to be.
Our traditions, along with our modest homesteads are fading fast and being replaced by a more cosmopolitan viewpoint and way of life. The modern Ireland has well and truly arrived.
Although the fields are still green, the Cliffs of Moher are still blustery, the Ireland of yesteryear is a thing of the past.
In place of cottages with white-washed gables, topped by thatch, there are bungalows dotting the landscape, offering little architectural charm to the passing viewer. Of course, they do nothing to inspire the dream of Ireland that many carry in their minds from first hearing the stories of their distant homeland. An unfortunate by-product of modern times and necessity. The days of the humble remote cottage are well and truly gone, their rarity adding to the appeal and value of those that remain.
On every rural road in Ireland, small traditional houses and larger Anglo-Irish estate houses are being swallowed up by nature. Reclaimed, they are mostly unseen by the passing motorist. Inside these places, glimpses of life in bygone times offer snapshots into the realities of life in past years. Times were hard, furniture was durable but often very basic and the luxuries we take for granted now are nowhere to be seen. There are no internet connections, rarely a phone line and heaven forbid, scatter cushions on the bed.
Although life was hard, money was in short supply and access to education was an impossibility for many over the age of 14. Yet, the simpler ways of life did have their merits. People knew their neighbors, we dropped in on family without making an appointment, communities banded together in times of crisis and offered a hand to help each other out. Now, we barely know our neighbors, we are caught in the rat race of careers and forever seeking bigger and better things.
As the international Irish are still desperately drawn to seek their heritage, they may find the Ireland of their imaginings a little disappointing. Gone are the horse and cart carrying turf from the bog, gone are the milk churns at the gates of our farmyards, gone are the vigils to Holy Wells and Sacred Shrines.
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To see any of those things now would be quite unusual. There's not much stock taken of religion - either Christian or Pagan and children often know more about the life and times of their favorite reality TV star than they know about their culture. This is the way of the world.
In an ever-evolving Ireland, it is not hard to see where the changes for the good trump the changes for the bad.
We no longer carry water in a bucket from the well, we no longer rely on oil lamps, we drive nice cars and our homes have central heating. How then did our ancestors fare who had a much more physical way of life? They were definitely more robust than many of the same age now. The stories of old Ireland, of sitting by the fire and recanting tales of the Bean Sí (Banshee) and the fairies have been replaced in importance by what's on Netflix and pop culture. For some of the improvements, I am glad, for others, not so much.
The general dilution of our culture as we meld into the great melting pot of Europe leaves a lot of what we knew as nothing but a faded dream. For the International community of Irish descent, a warm welcome still awaits. As a people, we are a little more sophisticated than you may predict but we still offer the warmest welcome.
Do you agree? Has Ireland's culture become diluted? Let us know what you think in the comments section below.
This article was submitted to the IrishCentral contributors network by a member of the global Irish community. To become an IrishCentral contributor click here.