Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Northern Ireland: What I have learned to love...

I have to admit, I’ve never had much respect for Northern Ireland. Yes, I was born there and yes, it has been my home all my life, but it has never really evoked any form of patriotism in me in any way. In fact, both the country and its people have always been a bit of a joke to me- ironically, with me being one of them and all.
So after a year in Southampton, the idea of spending an unwilling 3 months in a tiny of country of fields and farmers did not appeal to me at all. But really, my time away has made me notice a few things about home that I can’t help but fall in love with.
Like the greenness. It’s so green here. I’m pretty sure nowhere does green hills as good as Ireland.  I didn’t realise this until I took a road trip with a friend out west to Donegal this summer. The whole time it felt like we were driving through one big cliché, with scenes from a stereotypical Irish postcard surrounding us- the kind of postcard that makes us look like a backward land of nothing but mass fields and farmyards- the kind of postcards Americans like to send. But I had to admit, stereotypical or not, we do have some seriously good green hills.
                                                                      Typical postcard-perfect?
Number two- doing outdoor activities in generally inappropriate weather. Long countryside walks in gale-force winds? Trips to the beach in torrential rain? All of which whilst wearing an attempt at summer clothing? Yeah, only the Northern Irish would do things like this and not actually complain, because weather-wise, we don’t know any better. So you have to love our dedication to at least pretending to have fun on the typical outdoor-summer day trips. Just give us our good coat and a pair of sunnies and we’re loving life.
                                         My friend Becky, loving the beach and some clear grey skies

And lastly; the potato. Yes, I know we are notoriously known for them and everyone loves a good joke about us and our potatoes, but I had honestly forgotten how much people from Northern Ireland love a good spud. And we are so inventive with them!  I don’t believe anyone can do as much with one potato than any typical Irish mother can. Boiled, roasted, fried- champ, potato bread and Taytos; we know how to make something good of possibly the most boring food known to man, and I love it.
So yes, these are pretty much all total stereotypes and the reason most other countries look down on us with a satirical pity. Green, rainy, potato-loving farmers? Yes. But I’ve realised this summer that I wouldn’t have us any other way.

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