When you ask Irish Americans who have visited Ireland what you should bring, they will often say rain gear or a warm jacket. They will rarely mention the one thing that will really help you make of the most of your trip to Ireland. That’s okay because it takes up no room at all in your luggage, although it does help to know in advance that you will need it. If you want to relax and enjoy your vacation, it helps if you bring along plenty of patience.
Everyone talks about wanting a slower pace of life, but when it comes right down to it, slowing down takes some effort and awareness. Let’s get real about the old sod. Ireland has been praised for many things through the centuries from the saints and scholars to the low corporate tax rate.
But have you ever heard anyone rejoice in Ireland’s efficiency? Has anyone told you how delighted they were with the prompt public transport and the swift service in pubs and restaurants? No. Life is pretty laid back here by American standards. You might hear folks from County Monaghan or County Offaly talk about how busy and bustling Dublin is, but you aren’t likely to hear that from visitors hailing from Boston or Chicago or Los Angeles.
Set Your Clock to Irish Time
Some irritable and unhappy souls might put this down to laziness, but that is not true. It’s because we prefer to do things right, rather than right away. The first thing is connection. You’ll often get a bit of banter before a waiter or bartender asks what you would like. It’s only civilized to have a little chat before getting down to business, no matter how simple and minor that business is. Doing things properly takes time. For example, pulling a pint of stout is an art. It takes longer than popping the top off a bottle. The stout has to hit the glass at the right angle; it has to settle properly to give it a good head. It isn’t easy to wait for, of course. We can all sympathize with poor Conan O’Brien when he visited Dublin’s famous Guinness Storehouse. But it is worth it.
It is a terrific waste to visit Ireland and race around checking off famous sights on your to-do list. By all means, don’t miss them, but take the time to understand the culture too. What makes an excellent stout is not simply the ingredients; it is the time they are allowed to brew. The same is true of every heritage site you visit in Ireland. Don’t just trot along behind the tour guide. Relax. Take the time to stand alone in the ruins of a monastery. Really look at the beauty of Christchurch. Quietly contemplate the intricate carvings on a megalithic stone. Listen to the wind. If you pack plenty of patience, you can make your time in Ireland a spiritual journey. And you’ll appreciate that perfectly pulled pint all the more for having to wait for it.