After a whirlwind week exploring Dublin, pubs, Galway, the Cliffs of Moher, pubs, Kylemore Abbey, Belfast, pubs, Giants Causeway, and Carrick-a-Rede (did I say pubs?), we were very happy and very exhausted. Luckily we had decided to spend the last couple of days in Wexford where Emily lives. It was perfect. We relaxed, slept in, and spent time with the locals. It was a wonderful change of pace, and gave us a chance to see a non-touristy side of Ireland.
In fact, we had been telling Emily for weeks that we wanted to do real Irish things when we got to Wexford. When she asked what exactly that meant, we said “oh you know… local… authentic… Irish stuff.” Armed with that very specific information, Emily decided to take us to a local… authentic… Irish hurling match.
Of course! Hurling! What could be more Irish than hurling? And more importantly, what the heck is hurling??
Turns out, hurling is a prehistoric Gaelic game that has been played for over 3,000 years. And the players looked so young! As far as I could tell, the point of the game is to use a bat to hit the ball either between the goalposts or into the net. If lacrosse and baseball had a baby (or a great-great-great grandfather I suppose) it would be hurling.
We spent the game frantically trying to figure out what was going on while laughing at the intensity of the cheers and jeers of the crowd. I would put a few examples here, but none of them are appropriate! American fans have nothing on Wexford fans!
After the game everyone walked on the field, and the little kids brought their hurling sticks and began hitting the ball back and forth. We were laughing at the fact that the 3-year-olds were better at this sport than we would ever be!
The next morning we visited Emily at her work, and then picked up some fresh food for a picnic. Emily even made hummus from scratch, using a secret family recipe (found on the internet).
We arrived at our picnic spot to find that someone else had been there first. And built a beautiful castle.
We headed around back, sat down on the grass, and immediately dug into our food.
After enjoying our lunch we hung out for awhile on the grass, soaking in the sun and catching up on life. We must have looked like a fun group, because it wasn’t long before we were approached by the locals.
After a wonderful lunch we went home to get ready for our seisiún, which I had been looking forward to all week. A seisiún is an informal gathering where musicians play traditional Irish music and everyone participates in one way or another. They’re very common in Ireland, and something that we wouldn’t have been able to experience if it weren’t for Emily being a local!
Emily and her roommates graciously hosted the seisiún at their home. Since we didn’t know many Irish songs (read: any) we decided to learn how to sing a song from our new favorite Irish band, Kodaline. Guess listening to “High Hopes” over and over and over in the car really paid off (you’re welcome guys!)
I had a ton of fun talking to Emily’s Irish friends, and LOVED listening to their music! It was so cool! And they loved listening to our family rendition of “High Hopes” just as much… or at least they were kind enough to pretend to!
One of Emily’s friends even taught me how to play the bodhrán (it’s a drum). I’m so Irish!
It was the perfect ending to one of my favorite trips ever. I accomplished my goals of falling in love with Ireland and seeing the Cliffs of Moher. More importantly, I was reminded of how much I love my family (insert “aweee” here).
Until next time Ireland.