“Frosted Lucky Charms. They’re magically delicious!”
“Fresh and clean as a whistle!”
When I was little, those two commercials pushed me over the edge. It wasn’t just the accents, which I thought were divine (although looking back, they were pretty awful), it was that cold cereal and soap had some kind of fanciful enchantment. The rainbows, the intense green grass and trees, the leprechauns and pots of gold, the slivers of green and white soap—all those things signified that Ireland must truly be a place of magic.
Then there’s St. Patrick’s Day. The holiday where people claim to have Irish grandparents, drink green beer and celebrate with cabbage, corned beef and potatoes as well as community parades across the country.
Because of the potato famine starting in the 1840s, two million Irish descended on America desperate for a better life. Those early immigrants from the Emerald Isle didn’t receive the warm welcome they had been hoping for, but they persevered in spite of the outright cultural discrimination they faced. Today, America has seven times as many people of Irish descent as Ireland itself.
But what’s the real appeal of Ireland and its people? As a land mass, Ireland is tiny—North Dakota is 2 ½ times its size. When I was there with my husband, we traveled from coast to coast in just over three hours.
And with approximately five million citizens, there really aren’t that many truly Irish people.
Perhaps it’s their incredible friendliness. While in Dublin, we were surreptitiously looking at a tiny map, trying to get our bearings. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a woman making an eager beeline right towards us.
Stopping abruptly in front of us, she liltingly said, “Hello there. You seem to be lost. How can I help?”
That wasn’t our only encounter with friendly people either. Everyone we asked for help, and many whom we didn’t directly ask, were delighted to share their knowledge of directions, good restaurants, can’t miss destinations and more.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the first time I talked to my now husband on a telephone, his Irish accent just about drove me to distraction. I overlooked the swearing because he ended the conversation with, “Alright, lass, I’ll speak to you soon.”
This St Patrick’s Day, don’t focus on the green beer and the overeating. Focus, instead, on the friendly nature of this small island of people. See if you can’t find someone to make a beeline towards and offer your best advice, services or help. I’m sorry to say that our flat, Scandinavian-inspired accent isn’t likely to make anyone swoon, but I’m sure they’ll appreciate the assistance nonetheless.
This post originally appeared as the reflections end page in the March-April 2021 Inspired Home magazine.