I've been lucky enough to travel fairly thoroughly across the United States and much of Europe. I've been to beautiful islands in several seas, breathtaking cliffs on coasts across the world, canyons and mountain ranges and deserts in the center of countries, and immersed within both tropical and sub-arctic rainforests. It's always been fairly simple to convince myself that these forms of nature developed, well, naturally, over thousands to millions to billions of years of specific causes and effects related to geology, physics, chemistry, and biology. I'm not so sure here. Ireland is different. I believe Ireland was painted.
This whole island gives the impression that it was carefully conceived of and designed by a collection of the most creative artists from across the planet, men and women who had seen the beauties of other worlds and wanted to colocate them in a place that's actually easy to overlook. The little things that pop up every day (today I noticed a beautiful bridge for the first time; I've passed within twenty feet of it probably over one hundred times by now) are what make Ireland different. In a clever and unique artistic touch, they also decided to cloak and unveil it with startling, drenching regularity in order to remind their audience that their experiences with beauty are not meant to be taken for granted (pray for rain). Everything about this island whispers—never screams—that it was designed deliberately, thoughtfully.
My favorite exhibits—including in my definition of art culinary experiences, pub decor, music (of course!), and many other of life's greatest pleasures—are simple yet masterful. That last phrase is perhaps the best description of this nation, both its people and its countryside, that I can conjure. There is no attitude here other than friendliness. The honesty, down-to-earthness, and lack of pretense in the conversations, the pubs, the food & drink, and the landscapes themselves (yes, even the land is down-to-earth; I'd bet you'd agree if you saw it) make this place the marvel that it is.
Ironic how many words it took for me to describe such simple beauty...
Written July, 2012