I miss living in Ireland nearly all the time, but most especially at Christmastime. Which is odd, because I’ve never actually spent Christmas in Ireland. But for the 6 years that I lived there, the lead up to the holidays was always the most magical time for me. I adored being on Grafton Street with all the twinkling lights and shoppers bundled up in their winter coats. I loved seeing friends gathered at pubs for holiday meetups. I delighted in each village’s Christmas decorations. I learned that work Christmas parties are much more fun in Ireland than they are in the U.S.! And then every year, I left Ireland right before Christmas to be with my family in America.
Part of me always wished they could come spend the holiday with me and I could share the magic with them, but that was when my grandparents were still living and we cherished every Christmas we could spend with them. And it really was enough to experience the buzz of it all… the anticipation, the beauty, the charm.
I first visited Ireland in 2004 and as our plane was departing Dublin Airport and my friend and I were reminiscing about all the fun we’d just had, I said to her, “I want to live there.” We laughed and it just seemed like a post-holiday whim, but two years later I landed back in Dublin – this time to look for an apartment, buy a car, get a PPS number, open a bank account, and start a job in a few weeks’ time.
The thing I always tell people when they ask me about living in Ireland that I think best describes the experience is that I was never once lonely. From the very first weekend that I started my job, I was invited to nights out, dinners, hikes, and weekend trips. I never had to “make a friend”, because everyone befriended me. And after a few months, another American was hired at my job and from that point on, I had a travel partner for every journey throughout Ireland and Europe that I would ever take.
So, by far, the very best thing about my time in Ireland was the friendships. I originally only planned on staying one year, but when I moved back to America SIX years later in 2012, I left behind some of the most wonderful friends I will ever have in life, a best friend I’ll have forever, and a country I truly loved. I hope one day I’ll move back, but in the meantime, I stream music from Christmas FM and buy Christmas crackers for our table – this year I even baked some mince pies!
Jennifer is a Photographer & Illustrator. To see more of her work, visit her website www.aseverphotography.com or follow her on Instagram @as_ever_photography / @jenprocreates