Since I posted the first entry of this blog a few days ago, I have received some interesting reactions. A great deal of curiosity and encouragement, and some gentle concern as to my motivations for wanting to move my family to Ireland.
The curiosity comes from people who have been considering making a similar transition and are interested not only in the practical pieces that need to be addressed, but also in the thought processes my wife and I have worked through to commit to such a major change.
The encouragement has come from friends in this country who have been aware of our interest for some time, and also from friends in Ireland. A delightful man from Mayo wrote and said, “If this is something you truly want to do, then go for it. All the evidence suggests we only live once.”
In many ways the most interesting feedback has been the expressions of gentle concern — which are understandable. I believe they are based in the notion that I have watched The Quiet Man too many times, consumed more than my share of Guinness, or have an overly romanticized notion of Ireland — an unrealistic sense that the country possesses some magic that will miraculously transform my family’s life for the better.
Our reasons are varied and complex. They are grounded in family experiences I had as a child, travels to Ireland over the years, changing cultural, political and social environments in this country, and finally, an overpowering desire to begin a new phase of our life at a moment while we still can. This is not an idea that occurred to us a few months ago. It is something we have seriously been discussing for 8 years. Our efforts have been impeded by a brutal real estate market, some troublesome family issues, and a global economy that has been wracked with financial uncertainties. But we are hoping, as buyers’ interest has surfaced, that we may soon get the opportunity to act on our desire to move.
For the sake of this entry I want to touch on my basic reasons, and put to rest some of the concerns of well intentioned friends.
When you say Ireland, many people think of the National Geographic images of the almost impossible greenness of Kerry, fog drifting over the Cliffs of Moher, the remarkable barrenness of the Burren or the Poulnabrone dolmen in Connemara, looking south from Mizen Head to the sea, or the welcoming urban character and history of Dublin. Talk with anyone who has visited and they will have a special recollection.
It is impossible not to admit that the geography of this ancient country is a powerful draw. But what I love the most about Ireland, is its people. I appreciate their warmth and generous character, their quiet constancy, and above all the wonderful eccentricity of the Irish sense of humour. It is a culture that has been shaped by over 2,500 years of turbulent history and is now wrestling with a complex and challenging economic present. The Irish are fighting many of the same economic battles we are facing in the United States, but for a number of reasons I think they may dig themselves out faster.
Geographically Ireland is about the size of West Virginia and its population is about 4.5 million — about 2 million people less than Massachusetts. While I understand that Ireland is linked to the EEU, I believe that its smaller size may allow its political leaders the opportunity to get their arms around the country’s problems faster. It is going to be a painful process, much as it is here. And while I read about the understandable anger and frustration in the Irish newspapers, I have not encountered the fierce polarizations and unwillingness to face up to critical issues to the degree that we are experiencing here.
It may have to do with the fact that Ireland is a much older country and is stronger for its centuries of experience.
To give you some context, there is a pub in Dublin — the Brazen Head — that opened in 1198 and is 813 years older than the United States. I’m not sure exactly what to make of that, but it is a fact that has always amused me.
A friend in Tralee just sent me a note on my Facebook page saying that watching all of the current nonsense that is going on in this country is, “giving her a pain in the head having to listen to all of this…..”
My answer? It is giving me a pain in a considerably lower extremity having to live with it on a daily basis.
It would seem that the entire world is coming unglued in one way or another. And as every day passes, it seems that the choices that are available to a family become increasingly limited. If I am able to sell this house one of the choices that may be open to us is where we want to live.
I will tell you that if we can put the pieces together a quiet corner in the southwest is very appealing.