How’s that for an exciting title?
I should preface this post by saying that, to the best of my knowledge, I am not Irish. From what I can tell, I am mostly German. I have never even been to Ireland. Still, I seem to have an immense love of Ireland, especially in books.
The summer after my freshman year in college I spent the summer working at the beach. I lived in a large female boarding house which housed twenty-seven young women, aged nineteen (me) to twenty-four. Of these twenty-seven girls, only three were American. The remaining twenty-four girls came from around the world— Brazil, Australia, France and Spain each had a representative or two. The majority, however, came from England and Ireland.
The three of us that were native to America were the first in the house, so we bonded immediately. As the rest trickled in through May and early June, we found ourselves in a new situation—one kitchen and only a handful of bathrooms shared between women of different cultures. Oh, did I mention only one phone, too, in a time before cell phones? Some we lived with because we had to. Some we wanted to kill (like the one who used said phone for hours-long conversations to her boyfriend every night). Others became good friends.
In particular, there were two girls from Ireland that I spent a good amount of time with. They introduced us to their friends that were living around the town. We went to parties, we stayed out all night, we would sit on the beach talking until the sun came up and we all realized we needed to go to work. It was amazing.
Throughout the summer, I heard amazing stories of Ireland and Scotland from my new friends. I was mesmerized. The descriptions of the towns, cities and countryside were all stunning. Don’t even get me started on the accent! I was so in love with the accent that I would sit and listen for hours—and there isn’t much that can shut me up! (Poor Pookie, born in the US, with no accent to make me listen to his every word.)
Eventually the summer ended and we all went back home and to school. I had picked up some of their phrases over the summer, much to the amusement of my friends.
We stayed in contact for a while, but I haven’t heard from anyone in years. We all moved on; the only thing left from that summer is the memories, a few pictures, and a love of a country I have no real ties to. (Two, actually—I can’t forget Scotland. But it is St Patrick’s Day!)
One day I will get to visit Ireland. Kaye is going in a few months, so I am sure she will take lots of pictures and fill me in on all of the great things to see.
Until then, I get my fill in books. I love books set in Ireland—Nora Roberts, for example, give such a stunning picture of the Irish country-side that I feel like I am there. I also love books written by Irish authors. PS I Love You by Cecilia Ahearn may be favorite book. It made me laugh, it made me cry, and then laugh again. My poor husband thins I am insane every time I read it. But, on top of a very moving story, it captures the Irish setting and the speech patterns I have come to love so much. I can hear the accents in my head.
So, until that happy day when I finally have the opportunity to visit Ireland, I find books do an amazing job at filling in—making me feel like I am back with the friends from that summer in the 90s, this time on their turf.
So, in honor of St. Patrick’s Day, I am off to read a book. Does anyone have a suggestion?