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Some tips from a fourth generation Irish-American on visiting Ireland
Jim Smith is a long-established supporter of Ireland and unofficial ambassador for his country, not least since his Irish roots are strong. We thought some questions and answers from a frequent visitor to Ireland would be very instructive. Many thanks Jim (JS) for your time and considered responses to hidden dublin (HD):
- HD: Describe yourself and your family (and roots) in a couple of sentences
- JS: "I am a fourth generation Californian born in San Mateo, the county just south of San Francisco. My family came and settled in San Francisco during the 1870s during a great Irish immigration; our family name reflects Irish roots direct and indirect. I best place our ancestral county around Monaghan."
- HD: How important is your sense of being Irish?
- JS: "It's like reaching back deep in your pocket and finding a 20 euro note."
- HD: You do a lot to promote Ireland from your home in California (intentionally and unintentionally!), and visit Ireland on a fairly regular basis. When you arrive in Ireland, do you feel a sense of homecoming?
- JS: "Not as much a homecoming but more like reaffirming a long lost friendship."
- HD: What do you think Ireland can learn from the USA?
- JS: "With freedom comes responsibility and responsibility freedom. It is imperative to act on healing ancient wounds. I know that we have a huge capacity to successfully heal each other."
- HD: What do you think the USA can learn from Ireland?
- JS: "Manners and gentleness is a virtue and a sure strength. Secondly that the well-turned word or phrase is a joy. I love how the Irish turn a phrase."
- HD: Have you had any really amusing experiences in Ireland?
- JS: "I lost my luggage on a hopper 'tween Shannon and Dublin on one trip. I was stuck in Dublin with only my emergency bag and clothes I had on for two days. I did find my luggage waiting for me at my return destination but no travel tags or stickers, nor an explanation from the airline staff how it found its way there without any electronic record. As if my luggage decided to spend time on its own and then take it self across the Atlantic only to wait for me for two days!"
- HD:If you had to choose one memory of your Irish holidays, what would it be?
- JS: "How I cried when I saw the survivors' statue in Cobh. It was then I knew my family line more completely. I felt myself as them, shoulder-in-arm, grieving on a genetic level.. stirring and unforgettable."
- HD: What’s your best tip for a first time visitor to Ireland?
- JS: "Know you are an ambassador for your country and those who follow after you. Compliment the Irish by your manners at all times. Leave preconceived notions behind. Pack less and be more versatile with your weather gear (try camping gear). They love those who know about their history. Eat what is put before you. Tip your tourbus driver or hosts and leave a Thank You note or card (they won't say it but they love it!). Let the Irish come to you and be friendly, and they might tell you the secrets of their heart. Reciprocate if you can. Keep a confidence. Take more than enough pictures."
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