Newsrooms always are ahead of the calendar. Say “today” and you’ll be forced explain whether you mean a story is “for today,” “in today” or if you actually, really, truly mean “today.”
The same goes for holidays, which is why some of my cubicle mates have been talking about Ireland for weeks now. St. Patrick’s Day food features, St. Patrick’s Day band listings — work on those started around Valentine’s Day.
So when a message flashed across my IM screen without warning Friday —“This writing about Ireland is making me crave a pint of Guinness … at a pub in Ireland.” — I knew what was up: job-induced travel itch.
Great. Now it’s all I can think about, too.
So, in an effort to stem the infection by spreading it, here are my best Ireland tips:
Travel in a Gaeltacht to hear the native language dancing all around you. Gaeltachts are regions where Irish Gaelic remains the predominant language and there are public efforts to preserve it, including signage, radio and television stations and education efforts. It’s pleasant to hear daily business done in Gaelic at a random store in Connemara. Plus, Gaeltacht’s tend to be in remote and scenic places.
Ditch the chain hotels for inns and bed-and-breakfasts. You’ll get to know your Irish hosts and meet other travelers, and it’s inexpensive. Note: B&Bs in Ireland range from exactly what Americans expect to the room that became “extra” when the daughter went to college — complete with standing in line for the bathroom. But when your hostess breaks out a scrapbook to show you clippings about the village being named of Ireland’s Tidy Towns for great lawn care back in the 1980s, you’ve hit the close-to-the-locals jackpot.
Do what my wistful co-worker wants: Spend as much time as possible in local pubs — for lunch, dinner, day breaks. Drink beer or not, but go. Pubs are Ireland’s collective living room, and you’re invited — don’t pass it up.