An obsession with Ireland

March 17, 2014
A man walks by a church in Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

A man walks by a church in Kenmare, Co. Kerry.

Commentary and photos by Rob Alway. Editor-in-Chief. 

A bridge in Clifden, Co. Galway.

A bridge in Clifden, Co. Galway.

Sheep wander the countryside.

Sheep wander the countryside.

If you know my wife, Becky, or I, you know that we have a little bit of an obsession about Ireland. We have traveled to the Emerald Island (myself twice) and we even named our daughter after a town in Ireland (Avoca). Her middle name is a little Irish as well, Quincy. If you know us, you also know that we really aren’t Irish. I actually traced an ancestor back to Londonderry, Northern Ireland (it wasn’t Northern Ireland at the time) back in the 18th century. He was actually Anglo-Irish (that’s a nice way of saying that he came from England). I’m pretty much Dutch (first generation, my mother immigrated here from the Old Country), a touch of Scotch, a little English and some German. But, Irish I am not. Becky is mostly Swedish.

But, that hasn’t stopped us from falling in love with Ireland. There is just something about it that captures you.

It may be the landscapes. They really are that green. The seashores are breathtaking as are the mountains.

The seashore, Achill Island, County Mayo.

The seashore, Achill Island, County Mayo.

It may be the people. They really are that friendly and they love Americans. Pretty much every Irish person we talked to has some relative in the United States, which isn’t surprising since there are more Irish in American than there are in Ireland.

It may be the towns. Can you remember a time when your local town had a butcher shop and a bakery and that’s where you got those particular supplies? The towns in Ireland remind me of a time long gone here. A time I wish we could have back. They are so quaint.

The Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

The Cliffs of Moher, Co. Clare.

It may be the food. Yes. Believe it or not, the food in Ireland is amazing. There is a large movement, much like in Michigan, to go back to the land and produce and sell food locally grown.

It may be the history and culture. Coming from the United States where our “old” buildings are 100 to 200 years old, it’s just amazing standing in a building — or the ruins of a building — that is over 1,000 years old. I love the stories of Ireland’s past.

It may be the music. Need I say more?

It certainly is a combination of all of the above. On this St. Patrick’s Day I pay tribute to my second favorite country, one that is dear to my heart.

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit! (that’s Irish for Happy St. Patrick’s Day!)

Enjoy and be safe.

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