What is it about Ireland that makes it so appealing and popular with holidaymakers and those who call it home? We asked around and tried to find out!
Now that the summer is over most of us are secretly thinking about our 2020 vacation. And while there is a whole world out there to explore, there is still so much to see and do in Ireland.
So we spoke to some residents, both those born here and those who have chosen to make Ireland their home, to find out what is so great about the Emerald Isle - and with so much global unrest, our little island is becoming a more appealing prospect by the day.
The Irish countryside
Firstly of course is the scenery - there are stunning locations all over the world but we also have plenty of our own; including the Wild Atlantic Way, the craggy rocks of the Burren, Glenveagh National Park, the remote beauty of Connemara, the majesty of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher and Glendalough to name just a few.
Most of us haven’t experienced even half of the beauty on our doorstep, so after the parade pick somewhere you haven’t visited before and go exploring.
According to a South African native who has become an Irish citizen, we truly have the best rainbows. And while we have yet to find a legendary pot of gold at the end, thanks to an abundance of rain and clear, fresh skies, when the sun shines on a rainy day, our colorful bows are a joy to behold.
Which leads on to the climate – yes, we have quite a few damp days throughout the year, but we are blessedly free from weather extremes. And whatever about being caught in a downpour, we aren’t too likely to experience anything more dramatic in the near future. In fact, one Italian man, who has recently moved here, said he loved the weather because it’s always summertime – in other words, it never changes.
Irish rain = green
And on the subject of rain, its abundance makes for a stunning natural environment; gardens, parks, even hedgerows are always lush and vibrant, often wild and most definitely green.
We have a long, often sad and undoubtedly colorful history and while at times it was far from pretty, it still lingers in all of our minds and has helped to promote a keen sense of patriotism and pride.
The smell of Ireland
Smell is our most powerful sense with a particular scent having the ability to transport us to another place and time – so the aromas of Ireland are another thing to be thankful for – the smell of a turf fire is unbeatable, as is the scent on the air after a rain shower. And when the wind blows a certain way over St James’ Gate, the smell of toasted barley and hops never fails to remind you that you are home.
Education in Ireland
With their long, paid holidays and short working days, teachers are the focus of many a rant, but according to people who have moved here from abroad, our education system is pretty impressive.
Many people from Europe, US and beyond were keen to pass on their feelings about the Irish education system and as one French man said ‘Education in Ireland, particularly in primary schools, really focuses on getting the best from students, the child is always put before the curriculum’.
Irish music is very special – from U2 to Westlife and Sinead O’Connor to the Pogues, many of our artists have been making waves across the world for decades. But it is our traditional sound which sets us apart from the rest – hip young things might scoff at it, but you can bet your bottom dollar, they would be the first to claim it as their heritage if they happened to hear Trad music abroad – its vibrancy, skill, and downright toe-tapping catchiness is second to none.
We’re not too bad on our feet either and Riverdance did much to bring our unique dance to the world and give a bit of glamour to the ‘one, two, three’s’.
Read more: Riverdance stars in Dublin are living their dream
The water might be pretty cold (read bloody freezing), but apparently the quality of our surf is up there with the best on the planet. So while surfing might not be your thing, it’s still something to be proud of.
When I was growing up on the west coast, there was a story doing the rounds of a local farmer whose cows escaped from a field. Enjoying a pint of Guinness, he seemed unperturbed by the bovine fugitives and when pressed, replied ‘Sure, what harm, don’t we live on an island’. Wise words indeed - and apart from the fact that our livestock can’t hatch plans to migrate overseas, living on an island also ensures that nowhere is far from the ocean with its ever-changing views and restorative powers.
Like love, air is all around us, and living on a blustery island in the Atlantic, we have some of the freshest air going. If we could bottle it, we could make a fortune, but as we can’t we should be thankful for the fact that city center aside, it’s so clean and pure.
Some people like to keep themselves to themselves and that’s fair enough, but there’s no getting away from the fact that when the chips are down, we Irish are pretty good at taking care of people. The vast majority are good and kind and dozens shared stories of how complete strangers helped; by carrying bags up the stairs, offering up seats on a train, putting a shout out on social media about lost property, intervening when someone was being verbally abused and generally being good citizens.
Irish sense of community
The sense of community is another point which newly-minted Irish citizens were keen to point out – having moved here from abroad, most felt very included by their new neighbors and colleagues and said their children were happily settled in school and had a good group of friends.
No dangerous animals
A somewhat bizarre but equally relevant positive is the lack of dangerous animals in Ireland. A number of residents discussed their relief at living in a place devoid of creatures that sting, poison or attack.
The Irish wake
Perilous creatures aside, strange as it may seem, the way we deal with death in this country is very positive – from the funeral wake to the hugely supportive way in which the entire community turns up to show respects and offer support to the bereaved, we really know how to address the inevitable and take the whole process into our stride. It’s not quite the keening days of old, but by tackling the sad and sorry business head-on, we, together with our communities, acknowledge that death is a part of life.
"Do you know..."
Networking is made easier in Ireland thanks to the size of the country and our easy familiarity with each other. One German IT consultant said she is astounded at how everyone seems to know the right person for any job and no matter what needs doing, there is always an instant recommendation – and having a personal introduction makes future business much easier.
We have always prided ourselves on being the ‘land of a thousand welcomes’. And while that may seem a bit twee and ‘Oirish’, the fact remains that we are still viewed as being an altogether friendly bunch who will strike up a conversation with anyone at any time.
Irish Mammy's cooking
Everyone loves their mothers’ home cooking and Irish people who have moved abroad cite this as being the thing they most look forward to when visiting home (after their Mammy’s of course) – whether it’s an Irish stew, some freshly baked soda bread, or even the traditional Sunday roast or bacon and cabbage, nothing beats it.
High-quality Irish produce
And on the subject of food, many visitors commented on the quality of our produce – our butter and dairy produce is second to none, our locally produced meats are praised worldwide and our fresh fish and seafood is top-notch (or top nosh).
We can’t compile a list of Irish positives without mentioning our rugby teams, who continue to impress year upon year - and once again, for a country as small as Ireland, we have managed to produce some amazing players over the years.
On the topic of sport – love it or hate it, the GAA is pretty special. Our unique games not only set us apart from other nations and bring us together in Irish clubs abroad but also are the beating heart of many small communities up and down the country.
Any parent out there will know what it’s like to be constantly on taxi duty as we take our children to one activity after another – but several European parents have praised this as a very positive aspect to Irish life, as they believe their children have more opportunity to try different sports and other extra-curricular activities than they would have had in their native countries.
In our grandparent’s day, we were quite a conservative bunch by all accounts, living by the (holy) book and not wanting to step out of line, but recent referendums have shown that we are no longer afraid to voice our opinions and accept change and this is a very positive aspect to modern Ireland.
And last but most certainly not least is the fact that modern Ireland is a melting pot of different nationalities, which when all mixed together, make the nation richer in so many ways.
Love Ireland? What did we miss out? Tell us why you love Ireland so much in the comments section below.
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