We Finns have a strange fascination for Ireland, and have had for ages – at least since the times of Riverdance. I think it’s a clear case of ‘opposites attract’: Irish are well-known for being big conversationalist, never short of words and always up for a good laugh, whereas we Finns seem to delve in solitude, quietness, and introspection.
Well, these are the stereotypes, and obviously you come across a quiet Irish (there’s a film about the man isn’t there?) and a chatty Finn every once in a while (although that film is yet to be seen). But the fact is that the noise level in an average Irish bank around noon equals to the noise level in an average Finnish pub during the happy hour.
I remember, when being buried deep in high school books, dreaming of visiting Ireland. It was a different world back then, around the new millennium. Firstly, I was still a teenager, and secondly, if there were any budget airlines I did not know of any: Ireland seemed a faraway and expensive dream. But I got my chance when a nice lady from a well-known Irish luxury fishing hotel Delphi Lodge replied my job application for a seasonal position and called me for an interview. Gee…I was so excited that I didn’t understand a word she was saying – and she didn’t even have an Irish accent! But the job was mine, and off I went, to Ireland!
My summer in county Mayo was a dream come true, literally and metaphorically. I met people from all around the world, well, mainly from the surrounding countryside and Scotland, and a lot of old fishermen wearing tweeds and wellies and grunting to each other something unintelligible over their evening tipples. I was also really blown away by the friendliness of the older Irish staff, and they thought me a lesson I’ve lived by ever since: there is no better way to start your working day than gathering around a teapot and have a wee chat before anything gets done.
The scenery around Delphi couldn’t have been better either: I was tucked away in-between the hills and sheep of Connemara, and could visit towns like Westport and Galway. It was the best summer I had ever had, and it had a huge impact on my later life: it thought me that however distant a dream, or a country, might seem to you at the time, there’s no reason you couldn’t reach it.
The past year has been my fourth time living in Ireland, first time living in Dublin. And as my first time in Ireland in 2000, also the past year has been truly life-changing – a subject you will hear more about in the weeks to come. If not scenery and sheep, I have found some homey spots in the city – not to start my day over a pot of tea, but at least a nook where I can relax, take in the friendly feel of the buzzing city around me, and blog.
Being shortlisted as best newcomer in IMAGE.ie blog awards made me feel even more homey in Dublin. And even if it might be another cliché, I must say that Ireland really is a country of the welcomes.
You can see the shortlist, and cast your vote, here.