On a bike called the Shamrocket, in a land of the green, and by the cliffs of insanity, Erica Reed spent an unforgettable summer in Ireland. Prepare to get really jealous…
Imagine the sound of waves breaking on sheer cliff walls. Picture the base of the cliffs, dark and sharp against the foaming water. See a bright patch of green grass carpeting the cliff top, tint the air with the golden glow of a rising sun, and imagine the rays bouncing off the Atlantic’s choppy tide to the horizon. Add the first morning cries of gulls nesting on the cliffs, and, on the largest patch of grass, a small maroon tent.
This is exactly how I awoke a few weeks ago.
I was spending a summer in Dublin working as part of my college placement. Somewhere between the Dublin shenanigans my Irish friend absconded with me to the west coast. We spent a weekend along the (which I recognised as the Princess Bride’s Cliffs of Insanity) and exploring in the starkly beautiful .
For any and all of you who have not been woken by the sounds of the wild and the rising sun, go change that right now. Of course, you’ll need to be in Ireland to get the full effect.
After a few weeks in Ireland, I realised just how easy it is to go from hot, happening city to country roads where sheep have right of way. Get from bustling to sleepy seaside town of Howth or wind-whistling Dublin mountains in half an hour. Small towns, ripe with history and bursting with welcome, pepper the countryside. I didn’t have to look for adventure in Ireland, cliffs views and sea spray always seemed around the corner.
It was a combination of the people and the land that stole my heart. I bet you’re sick of hearing Ireland described as the ‘land of a thousand welcomes’, so I won’t say it again (even though it’s true). What I will say is when an Irish local asks you ‘What’s the craic?’ they’re expecting a real answer. You might find yourself thirty minutes into a ‘chat’ that has turned unexpectedly caring and personal, when all you had stepped out for was a bag of chips. It’s not just that the Irish welcomes all visitors, but that they have such sincerity behind the welcome.
And the craic, since you asked, was at its mightiest this summer.
So many memories… the gorgeous seaside commute everyday, sunsets over Dublin Bay, the cheeky croaks of magpies and the smoothest pulls of Guinness in the world. Some larger than life experiences, like camping on the cliffs, discovering secret crumbling castles, being front row at Belfast’s Tennent’s Vital music festival.
I even learned to play , attended my first hurling match and then got tickets for the , (which I was told were worth mugging for).
I dreaded leaving Ireland when the time came. But knowing that I’ll return, whether it be in the near or distant future, is like a diamond on my horizon.