Conor Pass in the Dingle Peninsula

St. Patrick’s Day Contest Entry: Befriending Ireland

In Win A Trip to Ireland by TonyLeave a Comment

Ireland has always intrigued me. From its symbols: the green shamrock, the harp and the Celtic cross, to its major attractions, including Phoenix Park in Dublin, to its friendly people and rich culture and history; simply put, Ireland fascinates, intrigues and excites!

I would like to visit Ireland’s oldest pub, Sean’s Bar in Athlone. I have a hankering to step foot in Trim, Kilbrittain, or Kilkea Castle. I yearn to discover Galway, Limerick, Dublin, Waterford and Killarney. Experiencing the sweeping greenery, rolling hills and beautiful landscape is a huge draw. A cruise on the River Shannon, exploring the Guinness Storehouse, hiking The Burren, touring the Newgrange passage, or wandering the Ring of Kerry are all on my ever-growing bucket-list of places to visit and things to do in Ireland, a country I’ve never had the opportunity to visit.

But more than anything, it’s the beautiful people of Ireland that compels me most to visit this great land. The passion, the warmth, and the joy of life I have seen in the many Irishmen and women I’ve had the fortune to meet triggers the curiosity in me to seek out what about this land fosters such amicable people.

As an avid sportsman, I appreciate the importance of sports in Ireland. Friends have regaled me tales of legendary Gaelic Football games; a sport that would be a joy to both play and spectate. Hurling is incomparably unique, and someday getting to play this ancient sport in the place of its birth would be an honor. Meanwhile, who doesn’t like some Gaelic handball from time to time!? Of course, Soccer/Football is a big deal anywhere, especially in Ireland, and watching a match at historic Croke Park or the ultra-modern Aviva Stadium would be something to one day tell the grandkids about.

We can’t have an essay on Ireland and not talk about its history. And I’m not just talking about the stuff they covered in that Hilary Swank movie my wife loves, “P.S. I Love You.” Whether we’re discussing prehistoric Ireland, which saw its first humans back in 8000 BC, or the long rich tradition of Gaelic Ireland that spanned from the 1st century and lasted until the 17th century, or the more recent controversial civil unrest of the 1960s, 70s and 80s, there is so a plethora of landmarks, heritage sites and castles to explore and breathe in all of this history!

Culturally, for a relatively small country, Ireland has a significant influence on the world. We’re not just talking about its pub culture or spirited music, either. In my research for this essay, for example, I discovered the impact Gaelic and Irish literature has had on mainstream Western culture has been substantial. Other cultural exports include rugby, horse racing and golf.

I could go on and on about why I’d like to take my wife and daughter to experience Ireland, including not having the opportunity to travel overseas for various reasons for over 22 years (when I was eleven). But I will say –  and this may sound odd –  that Ireland feels almost like a kindred spirit, a friend I’ve meant to hang out with, but haven’t had a chance to truly befriend yet. Ireland’s beauty, warmth, and spirit are admirable qualities for both a country and a friend. I hope to be given that opportunity to finally meet this long-lost friend!

Thank you.

Azim Ahmed
Oakville, Ontario

Interested in befriending Ireland and capturing all its amazing experiences? We offer travel packages that will introduce you to all of Ireland’s astounding features. Our tours are fully customizable so you can pick and choose the perfect trip. To avoid being overwhelmed by the wealth of sites Ireland has to offer, check out our list of Things to do In Ireland!

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