After showing Ireland and other countries to dozens, if not hundreds of people, a philosophical question emerges. Yes! a philosophical question: To See? or To Experience? After a short amount of reflection, it's clear that neither is correct and both are correct, and the blend is deeply personal.
Many people, and Americans in particular, go to a “foreign” country with a mental or paper list of places to “see”. In Ireland, it could contain the Cliffs of Moher, the Ring of Kerry, the Blarney Stone, visit one of the Aran Islands, …. You get the idea. It is usually a well-researched list of places and well defined. Others plan to experience Ireland and may not have a preconceived list, at least not one they can enumerate. If they were to write that list, it might contain “meet an Irishman”; talk to someone whose primary language is Irish; talk to a school teacher and find out how things are different in Ireland; talk to a publican/bartender and ask him/her about their patrons, products, etc.; find a truly Irish dish and enjoy it (or not) …. This “list” is probably not well researched or well defined, and the list would contain the types of items that are never “done”.
Seeing Inishmore While Experiencing a Carriage Ride?
So what is the proper mindset when visiting another country (or just another state or town)? The answer is hard. Many Americans view a trip to Ireland as a “once in a lifetime” event, and it may be for a variety of reasons, so they want to “see it all”. Others want to “hang loose”, strike up conversations, and experience different aspects of the “local” life, but these experiences are not “guaranteed” and really can’t be planned. The correct answer is both, and the proper mix is your personal choice.
As an example, one can plan to attend a Trad Music session and check that off of one’s list, but …. it’s Ireland and sometimes the musician(s) cancel … or the musicians just don’t click that night … and then there’s the Trad session that starts on-time (very unusual 😉 ) and the session is visited by over a dozen musicians … with a variety of instruments and the musicians are all very good and they all “click” … and then a gentleman (or a lady) in the corner clears their throat, and there’s a round of “ssshhs” (to get the room quiet) and they break into a beautiful and lyrical a cappella performance… sometimes for 7-10 minutes. Now that’s an “experience”!
Waiting for the Session to Start at the Crane Bar
Ideally one has a list and an itinerary of things to “see”, but the schedule is leisurely enough to take some time to “experience” along the way.
We love being tour guides and we particularly love planning a tour, but now you see some of the things we agonize over when putting a tour itinerary together. We try our best to provide plenty of things to see and to provide plenty of opportunities to experience Ireland.... but what is the right mix?
What are your thoughts in this area? Do you have any insights to share?
See You In The Pub!
Jet Lag Jack