An MKE girl in Ireland: Four things in the Emerald Isle that reminded me of home
You can live your whole life listening to countless love songs, but you never really know what they mean until you've experienced love yourself. That's how I felt when I had my first major crush (now I understand the Celine Dion lyric!). And that's how I felt when traveling to Ireland for the first time just two weeks ago.
As I spent a week driving through the picturesque Irish countryside, several poetic lyrics jumped into my mind from my favorite Irish band, The Saw Doctors.
"Oh the green and red of Mayo, I can see it still. Its soft and craggy bog land, its tall, majestic hills. Where the ocean kisses Ireland, and the waves caress its shore. Oh, the feeling it came over me, and stayed forever more. "
Everything the Saw Doctors have been telling me all of these years, I finally got to see and understand firsthand. Visiting Killarney, Galway, the Aran Islands and Westport were better than I imagined. Now I know that every time I hear their music, I will remember everything that makes Ireland exceptional. It truly will stay with me forever more.
That being said, Milwaukee was never far from my mind. While there were certainly many reminders that I was an ocean away – the countless number of sheep sprinkling the landscape, the fact that the "Hokey Pokey" was played on the radio – fortunately, there were plenty of aspects of Ireland that reminded me of home.
If you're planning a trip to Ireland in the near future, here are a few ways proud Wisconsinites like me can be reminded of their cherished Badger State in the Emerald Isle.
1. The scenery
Fifty shades of grey? Please. Try 50 shades of green – and you're sure to find all of them in beautiful Ireland. No view in Ireland is a bad view; you're constantly surrounded by either luscious hills or a magnificent body of water. In other words, get your cameras ready.
But a stunning landscape doesn't have to be a seven-hour transatlantic flight away. Milwaukee and its many suburbs offer plenty of gorgeous surroundings. Don't believe me? Take a road trip out to Holy Hill this spring. The scenic drive and the church's gorgeous surrounding landscape is certainly an unforgettable sight to see. Or head west on I-94. I'm always taken aback by the lovely drive as I make my way to Eau Clare and Madison.
2. The weather
In many ways, April in Ireland is surprisingly similar to April in Wisconsin (although this April might be an exception to that, based on how it's going so far). Each day during my Irish spring break, I was greeted to mild temperatures (high 40s and low 50s – that's Fahrenheit not Celsius) and alternating rain and sunshine. But being born and raised in Wisconsin makes me no stranger to ever-changing weather.
3. Friendly people
You've probably heard from multiple sources that Ireland is filled with nicest people you can find. Well, you're about to hear it from one more person, because this rumor is absolutely true. You will rarely find people as nice and as welcoming as you will in Ireland. But let me add just a little bit more to this: You will rarely find people as nice and as welcoming as you will in Ireland … and in Milwaukee.
Everyone from the locals we met in restaurants to the staff at our hotels was as nice as it gets (and let's face it – the Irish brogue only adds to the friendliness and charm). But I've also been blessed to encounter countless friendly faces throughout Wisconsin. Such warmth hospitality certainly made me feel a little homesick, even while in a beautiful country like Ireland.
No one knows how to party quite like Wisconsinites ... and the people of Ireland. It goes without saying that when you visit the Emerald Isle, you are going to be enjoying plenty of beer. The fact that I am Wisconsin native and largely of Irish decent is a dangerous but wonderful combination when it comes to throwing one back.
Relaxing and enjoying a pint in several Irish pubs was an easy way to remind me of my beloved Milwaukee. I even steered away from my normal order of Miller Genuine Draft, sipping on more than a few Guinnesses and Smithwick's Irish Reds. When in Rome, right?
A trip to Ireland for any Wisconsin resident is truly the best of both worlds. It's a chance to see somewhere new and completely fall in love with it, while having happy reminders of the home you love.
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