What is it about Ireland that appeals to so many? The gorgeous Emerald
Isle and her friendly people welcome the world-wide celebration of their most famous saint!
In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, we’re pausing to reflect on Ireland… the country and the people. Why do we love Ireland and all things Irish? From the breathtaking vistas to the lyrical language, the culture and the music, the myths and legends… it seems that this small country has found a way into our hearts!
There’s no doubt about why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle: You haven’t really appreciated green until you look at the rolling hills and valleys of Ireland, dotted with woolly sheep and picturesque thatched cottages above villages tucked snugly into the landscape. There’s so much beauty in the Irish countryside, and yet it’s a country of contrasts, too — with sophisticated cities steeped in history, but still urban-chic.
There are breathtaking sights not to miss in Ireland: the Cliffs of Moher, an 8-mile stretch along the western Atlantic coast near Dongal, which are not for the faint of heart with their 650-foot drop into the pounding sea below; the volcanic landscape at the Ring or Gullion, which dates back 60 million years; and the sacred mountain Crough Patrick, which rises 2,500 feet above County Mayo. It’s believed that it was at Crough Patrick that the island’s patron, St. Patrick, spent 40 days and nights praying and fasting.
Legends and literature
Every culture has its myths and legends, but we love the Irish belief in their own little people… leprechauns, pookas and fairies. There is something magical in the Irish air, so we are tempted to believe that these mythical creatures really do reside there! And, worldwide, while we all search for that very lucky four-leaf clover — green and glorious Ireland is the home of the shamrock.
The old library at Trinity College houses thousands of volumes — great works by literary giants from every corner of the earth, and none displayed more proudly that the Irish contributors poets and writers including Oscar Wilde, C.S. Lewis, William Butler Yeats, Dylan Thomas, Jonathan Swift and James Joyce.
Music and culture
Music inhabits the Irish soul. You hear traditional Irish music at pubs throughout the country and Celtic music is a popular export. Performances of Riverdance continue to circle the globe to sold-out stadiums, and Irish singers and bands have universal appeal: U2 with frontman Bono, Enya, The Cranberries, The Corrs, Van Morrison and The Chieftans. The Irish have successfully made their own way in modern pop-music culture.
We love the quirky side of Ireland. Ryan Air revolutionized cheap air fares for Europe, and travellers don’t seem to mind the bus-like planes filled with passengers drinking good Irish whisky and smoking continously throughout the flight. Rather, they are proud and pleased to snag a ticket from England to Poland for just one pound! We love the pubs with their peat fires and smokey air, where entire families might gather for an evening and adults can enjoy a strong cup of tea or their pint of Guinness.
We love Ireland, so each St. Patrick’s Day we join in the celebrations, no matter where we live. No doubt we’ll see plenty of green… hair, beer, even rivers dyed emerald, as we party on and show our affection for Ireland and the Irish again this year.