I am always amazed and touched by the generous spirit of the people I’ve had the pleasure to meet while traveling in Ireland. Whether I’m in a supermarket check-out fumbling with the unfamiliar coins in the palm of my hand, taking too long at the ATM for a simple withdrawal, or struggling to understand what I just heard even though it was in English and having to ask yet again, I am met with patience and kindness ~ traits which I have come to recognize as key aspects of Irish hospitality. Though I may be the source for a good laugh or frustration, I’ve been spared any embarrassment in the moment.

Kindness is a lovely balm for vulnerability ~ especially in those moments when we’re feeling uncertain, apprehensive or anxious. Traveling opens us to those tender places in ourselves and to be met with a smile and a generous spirit is such a gift. The kindness and hospitality of strangers truly defines our experience and shapes our memories. It’s what we take home with us in our hearts. It’s what we remember most.

I always say, “There’s something about Ireland”. Hospitality and kindness define part of that “something”.  I’ve wondered why the Irish are so welcoming and generous with smiles and quiet kindness. I imagine it may have something to do with having so many family members over the years emigrate to other countries and hoping their loved ones will be met with kindness and comfort as they arrive and make their way in an unfamiliar place. Perhaps living through so much turmoil in their history they have cultivated kindness and hospitality along with a natural resilience and ability to laugh and have a bit of fun whether times are good or bad.

From wide smiles, an abundance of thoughtful gestures and genuine concern and support, in Ireland I feel I’m held in a climate of kindness. It is this kindness I remember when my heart is burdened. I unpack memories of laughter shared over pints late at night and the tender reminder that we’re all together in this pilgrimage of being human. Walking each other home.