The Hospitality of Ireland

celtic crossOne of the most famous qualities of the Celts was their hospitality. A stranger always received a meal as the first order of business. This level of courtesy and generosity lives on in Ireland today. I have been invited in by strangers for tea when I stopped to ask for directions. Stand on a street corner in the bustling city of Dublin, with a map open in your hands, and no less than five people with stop and ask if you need help.

Once while searching for the train station in Dublin I wandered down a street that was vacant except for one person, young man sporting a mohawk, heavy metal earrings and arms colored with tattoos. Wearing earphones he bopped his way toward me. He seemed an unlikely source of help but when I stopped him to ask directions, he immediately popped his earbuds out and said “oh your American well welcome to Ireland, well Dublin anyway.” He then went blocks out of his way to actually take me where I needed to go.

I have lots more stories like that about my time in Ireland. My favorite comes from the West of Ireland and captures not only the generosity of the Irish people and their openness to help strangers but their keen sense of awareness. I was traveling with a small group. We were waiting to catch the ferry from Doolin out to the Aran Islands. When the boat came into sight I realized that I had left my boots back at the hostel. I checked the ferry schedule and saw that there was another boat in two hours. My companions agreed that it would be okay to wait while I retrieved my shoes. I set off on foot intending to hitchhike the mile back to the hostel if I could. I had walked just a bit beyond the parking lot when a little blue Toyota pulls up beside be and the man driving says, “Get in, we’re going to get your boots, a little birdie told me.”

The others would later explain that the man who ran the little coffee stand we had been sifting in front of and his friend noticed me leave and asked, “where is she going. When they heard, the man in the stand says to his friend, “you watch the stand” and his friend says to my companions, “you watch my dog” handing one of them the leash as he ran to his car. We raced along the narrow lane up through the village, I retrieved by boots and we made it back in time to catch the ferry. As an American I was amazed and expressed great gratitude for the gesture. While the Irishman didn’t think a thing of helping out in that way.

If you would like to taste the hospitality of Ireland join me on one of my trips. For more information visit http://creativitygoeswild.com/west-of-ireland/

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