Category: Ireland (Page 2 of 21)

St. Patrick’s Day

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We celebrated this national holiday by going to the local parade in Youghal, which includes lots of community groups, vintage cars and tractors, and bagpipes. We hope it’s a great day for you as well!

Traditional Christmas

‘Tis the season for Christmas programmes, and Seth was recently invited to one put on by the traditional Irish music and dance school whose building we meet in for church. The stage was full of musicians playing fiddles, banjos, accordions, and various other instruments, but there was still a little bit of room in the middle for the Irish dancers. After a break for tea, everyone came back and the mic was opened for people from the audience to share a ‘party piece’, which is a song or dance they have ready for social gatherings (this is a country that highly values music!). If the musicians know that you can sing, than the party piece is not optional – you just have to get up and sing. So Seth sang ‘Sweet Little Jesus Boy’, as a way to share traditional music from our part of the world and to focus attention on what Christmas is really about. He even remembered all the words!

St. Nick In Ireland?

We found out recently that some historians believe that the real St. Nicholas is actually in Ireland. Only about an hour and half from where we live are the ruins of a medieval town, long deserted. But it’s possible that St. Nick has been there for about 800 years, buried in the graveyard of the medieval ruins of St Nicholas Church, brought by a French family who were collectors of relics and eager to keep the saint’s remains out of the hands of Turkish invaders. You can read more about it by clicking here. But it will be hard to prove: numerous other sites have also made similar claims, and one city in Italy is already making a lot of tourist money on their claim. Still, it’s at least possible that St. Nick is Irish now!


Ireland doesn’t have a national day of Thanksgiving, probably because the Mayflower never landed here. Pumpkin pie is quite literally a foreign concept as well. But that hasn’t stopped the shops from bringing over another American holiday: Black Friday has caught on quite well in recent years. Of course, you don’t need a national holiday to be thankful. In that sense, every day – even Black Friday – should be a day of thanksgiving!


When I (Seth) was growing up, we played with jacks and marbles knowing that we were playing old games that had been played by children for generations. When we came to Ireland, we discovered that the old games were different. One of the most popular old children’s games here is called ‘conkers’. The only equipment needed for conkers are horse chestnuts (common enough in Ireland) and a bit of string. The object of the game is to break your opponent’s chestnut. That’s it. Of course, there are more particulars than that, but if you’d like to know more about it, you can read about the game here

Life in Ireland: Meetings

Being on committees and boards for every thing from the local primary school and Munster Bible College to youth camps and the local church means that Seth attends a lot of meetings. But there are several notable and important differences between Irish meetings and their American counterparts:

1) Irish meetings always involve a cup of tea – which usually comes with a little something to eat, which is why our kids used to say ‘Dad is going to an eating’.

2) The lingo is different – For example, if you ‘table’ a topic in America, that means you put it off for later. In Ireland, to ‘table’ a topic means that you bring it to the floor for discussion.

3) Decisions are made differently – In America, votes are taken quickly and the majority rules. The emphasis is on being efficient and moving forward. In Ireland, votes are rare. Topics are usually discussed until there is a feeling of consensus, and once that is reached the decision is considered to be made without ever needing to explicitly say so. The emphasis is on working together, but the adjustment for us was trying to figure out what had actually been decided.

4) No ending times – If you think the point above sounds like meetings would take longer in Ireland, you’re right. And maybe that’s one reason why they never have a set time to end. The meeting lasts as long as the discussion, although some discussions end up being tabled at multiple meetings. This doesn’t just apply to meetings, though – our church services have no definite ending time, either, and social visits also tend to last a lot longer than they do in America.

At the end of the day, every culture has unique values, strengths, and weaknesses. The Irish way of doing things certainly has it’s own problems, but we have learned to appreciate the way the Irish culture values relationships over tasks. Yes, it does make some projects less efficient to focus so much on the people involved, but after all, what is the real goal anyway?

Potatoes And Salad Leaves

There are moments when we suddenly discover that Ireland has got beneath our skin more than we realised. One of them happenedlast week, at dinner. It was when I noticed that for the last few bites my fork had had both potato and salad leaves on it, and further, that I didn’t mind in the slightest. This never would have been tolerated when we arrived in Ireland. If by some strange chance someone had stopped me even the same afternoon and asked me if I would ever eat potatoes and salad leaves together, I would have respectfully told them that even after crossing the ocean, there are some lines that remain uncrossed and will continue to remain uncrossed. But no one stopped, and no one asked. If they had, I may have thought about my dinner differently. As it was, it all happened without a second thought – no, nevermind the second, for it is certain that there was no thought at all. I put those things together on my fork and ate them and enjoyed the experience because it looked right. It seemed good. It was the thing to do. And by this natural reflex, it was done – long before my mind could remind my hands and taste buds that I am actually from America, the land of the free and the home of Ranch Dressing. Which is another thing… I actually can’t remember the last time I had Ranch Dressing on anything. 

Shaking Up The EU

By now you’ve probably heard about the UK’s vote to leave the EU, and some opinions about what that will mean for the future. We have friends on both sides of the debate, and can certainly see good arguments from both of those sides, but the purpose of this post is not to argue about who was right. This post is more about how the decision effects us and the country we live in, the Republic of Ireland. We do not live in the small corner of Ireland that is part of the UK, so for us personally, not much will change in the near future except the volatile exchange rate between the Dollar and the Euro. The Republic of Ireland is still part of the EU, which means that there are definitely some questions looming: What does this vote mean for the currently open border between the independent Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, which will no longer be part of the EU? What does it mean for the massive amount of trade, immigration and travel back and forth between Ireland and the UK? What does it mean for the future of the EU and our currency, the Euro, when one of the biggest net contributors pulls out? The simple fact is that Ireland does have a lot to lose financially if the Euro falls apart or our relationship with the UK sours. This year Ireland has been celebrating 100 years since the beginning of the rebellion that led to Irish independence from England, and a friend from Youghal summed up the whole situation this way: “We spent centuries under the shadow of the crowd across the water, and now we’re feeling very lonely without them.”

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