I knew when I moved on from the dormitory halls at UCC with their organized activities put together by the professors who came over with us to the far larger city feeling of staying in Dublin with only my best friend things would have a change of pace if nothing else. And while the experiences I had in Dublin were surreal to say the least (a subject for another blog post on another day) what I discovered overall while in Dublin the week after my official study abroad experience ended was mostly that what I had come to expect of the smaller parts of Ireland were also true of the larger; the themes I had discovered in the countryside, in the history, in the poetry, and in the small towns were expanded upon populously and voluminously by the capitol city.
The things that have stuck out to me as thematically resonant throughout Ireland, whether taught to me by Dr.s Cusack and Ehrhardt or noticed on my own, were a layered history, a sense of community that extended far beyond neighborly courtesy, and an overall attitude of openmindedness in a sense in which we do not use the word in the States. The Irish people were always open to talk and to help, no matter the circumstances. People began conversations with you over breakfast, bus drivers kept track of where people were going and made sure they got off at the right stops, and everyone, from museum guards to street performers, were happy to help you find a good restaurant or talk to you about the music playing over the speakers. There is a prevailing sense of kindness in Ireland that comes from a terribly tragic history. On an island so small a sense of community is almost inevitable, and when that community has been so thoroughly tested and tried, century after century, there is an enduring sense that we must be kind to those around us since we don’t know what they’re going through. The people of Ireland were what truly impressed me, their broad and intelligent view of the world has altered the way I look at all countries, my own included, forever.