Written By Nirav Raval
Let’s start with more known and relatively simpler fact – total population of Ireland is roughly 5 million (there are 7 cities in India with population more than that!) but there are 70-80 million Irish people on the planet who call this place home. Put it this way – if we consider that as ‘population’, Ireland would be in top 20 most populated countries. Considering that, choosing the first in the series was more difficult, also because it is a privileged position in the series. It had to be something that defines Ireland as a country and also globally as community (No. Not that!).
After thinking a lot – I shortlisted these three – Guinness, Shamrock and St. Patrick’s Day celebrations. I decided to start with St. Patrick’s Day celebrations because somehow, I find it closer and more relevant to Irish community present around the globe. Other two are also almost as relevant and I will go in detail in later dedicated posts.
Covering everything about history, heritage and background of St. Patrick’s Day celebrations is way out of scope of this post. So, in short –
St. Patrick’s Day is celebrated by the Irish all around the globe on 17th March every year which is traditional death date of St. Patrick, patron saint of Ireland. It is, in fact, celebrated in more countries than any other national festival of its kind. Traditionally, Lenten restriction on food and drinks are lifted on this day. Celebrations mainly include interesting and elaborate parades, church services, lots of alcohol (of course! Its an Irish festival) and everything, from people’s clothes to building decorations, turning green.
First I visited Ireland was in 2010, on Google Street View. It was just added to Google Street View then and first place I visited was Grafton Street. To me, Ireland was all about Grafton Street (I was obsessed with it then for some reason!), Guinness, Luck and everything green (No. Not even St. Patrick’s Day parade).
I could not even have imagined then that one day, I will actually live here and spend significant amount of time. I have been living in Ireland for almost 3 years now and I have to say, this country has surprised me. Ireland is much more than I had imagined it to be. And it is more than anyone who hasn’t been here can imagine it to be. Considering geographic area of the country and its location on the globe, one may think that how much history or heritage could it possibly have? Or how many significant events could have actually taken place here? Well, get ready for few surprises.
Ireland is home to Newgrange, a prehistoric structure which is older than Greeks, Romans or potentially even older than Stonehenge or Egyptian pyramids. It has produced some of the world’s best in pretty much every domain one can think of, literally. It has given the world some of the best poets, novelists, playwrights, story writers, singers, musicians, comedians (no, I am not referring to Tommy Tiernan 🙂 ), actors, scientists, philosophers, boxers, golfers and this list can go on forever. No wonder some of the most memorable characters on TV were Irish – Father Ted to Ray Donovan and of course, my personal favorite, Jimmy McNulty. This country has seen world class revolutionary young leaders and has also seen grumpy old corrupt politicians from time to time. It has been presenting the world with exemplary warriors from Brian Boru to Michael Collins and many others before and after their eras. The country has seen the worst of the famines on the planet and has also lived ‘Celtic Tiger’ era! The country’s name has been connected to the cleverest and most intriguing of the thieves (such as Martin Cahill) and the scariest of gangsters. Ireland was one of the active belligerents of ‘The Troubles’, one of the most complex, violent and long lasting armed struggle western world has ever seen and yet, it is one of the most peaceful countries on the planet today. Ireland was the first to pull out of European bailout program with very healthy recovery from the global slowdown but then it has also seen textbook example of a grand fuck up by a national bank. It has even seen a fucking civil war of its own!
[Well, too many F*** words? I first thought of not using them but then I thought, how can there be an honest account about Ireland without fucking F*** words!]
So, after travelling around the country for a while, I thought of starting this blog series. Idea is to cover Ireland in 99 photos. Now, that is very ambitious thing to try because Ireland has much more content to offer. I will share 99 photos (starting with next post) which best describe/relates to Ireland as country and its people. Will also try to share facts, some details around the picture, stories, experiences, practical tips about places, nightlife etc wherever I can.
P.S. : If this goes well, I may plan to do a series on India and another one on Europe – I still do not feel I have enough content to even start those.
I saw a dream last night. Happy dream, rare for me.
In my dream, I heard a knock at the door. I got out of bed, opened the door and there I saw someone at the door, standing right there, in front of me. I remember, I was genuinely happy to see that person there. I can’t remember if I said anything. The rest of the details are very faint too and the most irritating part is that I cannot even remember who it was at the door!
When I woke up in the morning, I was feeling fresh and happy (again, not my usual morning!) and I have to say, I liked it. I really tried hard to remember who was at the door. I tried to think of people who could make me happy just by paying a surprise visit! There are very few such people other than my parents and my sister. They say dreams reflect your inner self, sometimes your self which even you are unaware of! Was I expecting somebody to knock at the door? Or does it just tell me that a knock at the door, irrespective of who it is, may make me happy? Or is it just nothing and I am overthinking a simple, meaningless dream?
It was like –
‘Who is there?’
‘Who is it? Hello!’
What a f***ing joke!
“Optimists see a pint half full. Pessimists see a pint half empty. Realists don’t give fuck as long as bar is open.” — Cape Clear Originals 🙂
I had spent only 3 days on the island while attending Cape Clear International Story Telling Festival and I will try to visit it more whenever I will get chance. But as of now, it is on the list of my absolute favorite places on the planet!
We all have got one. Some may have a physical one, others would just make one in their heads.
This one here, it was right in front of the main structure and yet it was called ‘The Back Room’. 🙂