A couple years ago, I had a 24-hour layover in Dublin. I crammed in as much sightseeing as I could, and though I did see the sights, I never got to know the city. I vowed to come back.
The Emerald Isle has always held a certain allure: Guinness, friendly locals (never met an Irish person I didn’t like), rolling verdant green hills, leprechauns, pots of gold, lucky charms, hearty food, and ancient castles.
Last month, I went back to Ireland for a travel conference. Sadly, I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted. My trip had to be cut short due to a commitment in the US, and many of the things I tried to do were rained out (but what’s Ireland without the rain?).
I guess that long road trip around Ireland will just have to wait.
Though I didn’t get to see much of the country, I did get to meet a lot of locals — and I have to tell you that while Ireland itself is beautiful, it’s the Irish that make Ireland the wonderful country it is.
The Irish are some of the friendliest, warmest, and most outgoing people I’ve ever met. I’ve met Irish travelers before, and one of my close friends is Irish (probably the only vegetarian, non-drinking Irishman in the world!), but that’s nothing compared to experiencing the Irish in their own country.
First, there are the Dublin cab drivers. When I arrived in Dublin a few years ago, the cab driver chatted my ear off as we drove to town from the airport, telling me all about how his daughter was now 33 (spoken in an Irish accent, it sounds more like “tertee tree”), every neighborhood we passed through, and which Irish food I needed to eat during my visit.
His warm, friendly nature made that taxi ride one of my favorites.
Because of that experience, I took cabs wherever I could during my recent visit. I generally avoid cabs (they’re expensive compared to the local bus), but every cab ride was like learning about a slice of life in Ireland. Each ride was a new chapter of a very long story. I had one driver make fun of me for being American (“here’s your change, DUDE”), one gave me the lowdown on Irish politics and an upcoming election, another talked about how Ireland has developed since he was a kid, and others just chatted my ear off about life in Dublin.
Taxi drivers in Dublin are a league apart. I highly recommend taking at least a couple of cab rides during your visit.
Next there was my Airbnb host in Galway (probably the best host I’ve ever had). He helped out by getting me a free tour, showed me some pubs, and overall made my time in the city spectacular. He went out of his way to accommodate me during my stay.
During dinner one night in Galway, two Irish men sat beside me and my friend, looked over, and after a simple “Where are you from?” chatted our ears off all night, even asking us to take their picture to show their wives they were having a great time. We enjoyed wine and some laughs, not to mention a thick Irish accent I couldn’t always understand.
I loved the abundant friendliness and hospitality I was constantly shown. Whether it was asking questions on the street, interactions in stores, or banter in the bars, the Irish were always happy, helpful, and energetic. They have an infectious charisma that just makes you happy.
From their demeanor, to their attitude and willingness to share a pint and tell jokes with you, the Irish are incredibly hospitable hosts and left a lasting impression on me.
Ireland is a beautiful country, with verdant hills and castle ruins around every corner, but what will bring me back to Ireland are the people and a desire to learn more about their history and culture.
Visit Ireland for the beauty; stay for the people.
For more on visiting Ireland, read my guide to traveling Ireland for practical information and recommendations.