Over the Easter Break, I decided to take a break from the miserable weather in Austria and head to “sunny” Ireland. I had two weeks off, which gave me plenty of time to see parts of the UK that I hadn’t been to – this involved 8 days in Dublin, and 4 days in Edinburgh. I knew a few Irish people, and had been told that the Irish were a very hospitable people. I was ready to put this to the test.
Upon getting off the plane at 11:30pm, I was greeted at passport control by someone who wanted to know a lot about me. Instead of filling out a landing card like a normal airport, the Irish like a more personal touch. The passport control officer asked me where I was staying, who I was staying with (‘my friend Zoe, do you know her?’ – like seriously, what a dumb question, it’s a miracle Ireland doesn’t get invaded more often). By the end of the conversation I was allowed into the country, and I also felt like we had really gotten to know each other and shared a few laughs. I would say that Michael the border control officer and I are now really good friends.
I accepted Michael’s kindness as a one off. It became apparent throughout my trip that it was, in fact, not a one off. The entire country was this nice. The first morning I was there, my friend took me on a bus into the city. Upon boarding the bus, she had polite yet humorous banter with the bus driver when paying for our tickets. The bus driver joked that instead of asking for ‘two passes’, he thought she had asked for ‘two and a half’. When we left the bus, he joked that we had forgotten our half, and we all had a good chuckle. Coming from a city where to talk to a stranger was rare and usually involved apologetically explaining that I don’t really speak German, I looked panic-stricken and confused at this friendly interaction. Every time a stranger spoke to us, I expected to be chastised for breaking some unsaid cultural norm – but they just wanted to chat! After a whole day of this bizarre and unusual behaviour, I needed to lie down for 100 years. Surely, this place couldn’t be real.
The next day, we went on a tour of the Guinness museum. Every single staff member was nice (not a surprise). At the end of the tour, I went to buy a t-shirt at the counter. A very cute red-headed Irish boy, Stephen, greeted me with a smile as he scanned my shirt. He proceeded to engage in light conversation as he processed my payment, asking where I was from, what I had seen in Ireland, how long I was staying, what I thought of Dublin so far. By the time he handed me back my bag, I was basically ready to ask ‘what are we?’ That was, of course, until I walked away with my purchase and heard him ask the person behind me where she was from. Break my heart, Stephen.
Over the course of the eight days, I became determined to find an Irish person who wasn’t nice. My attempts seemed fruitless. At one point I went into a cute coffee shop to study while my friend was at uni. I approached the counter and asked her if I could order. To my relief, she said ‘yep’ in a tone that could be interpreted as short, and turned her back to me. Finally! I knew not everyone could be this nice.
‘Can I have a cappuccino please?’ I ordered, ready for her to say ‘yeah, fine, whatever.’ But no. This is Ireland. Instead, she turned around and said, ‘of course, not a problem! I’ll bring it right out!’ in the peppiest tone I’d ever heard. I had lost, again.
By the end of my trip, I had developed at least seven intense crushes on store clerks and seen not nearly enough of this beautiful country. If you’re looking to travel to Ireland, I couldn’t recommend it highly enough. I’m basically already planning my return trip.