I finally made the trip across the Atlantic in 2013 to my ancestral home, for The Gathering. I grew up in Boston listening to my grandparents talk about the country they left behind.  

After visiting briefly as a child, I was very eager to see the country again as an adult. Here are some of the things that surprised me the most after my trip to Dublin, Galway, and the Aran Islands.

1.  Irish people will not build homes on fairy forts, despite the fact many of them don’t believe in fairies.

2. People are very friendly and genuinely helpful. Everyone I met welcomed me with a smile.

3. Guinness is not the only great beer they have, there are many small micro-brews too like Kilkenny Ale and Smithwicks. Bulmers cider is also the most delicious cider I have ever tasted!

4. Driving on the narrow country roads was scarier than any roller coaster. People drive like they are in rally cars!

5. Everyone I spoke with loves America and talked about how great ‘the shopping’ is in New York.

Not everyone gets wasted on St. Patrick’s Day, many people treat it is as day to get together with their family.

7. You don’t want to know the ingredients of black pudding, but everyone should try it during a trip to Ireland!

8. Be prepared to talk about the weather A LOT. It’s a conversation starter!

9. When Irish people swear, it doesn’t sound as offensive as when Americans do. It must be their accent.

10. The death notices are played twice daily on local radio and that’s how many people find out who has died in their locality. Sounds morbid, but it’s very practical!