Friday, June 23, 2017

Why Rural Ireland is NOT DisneyWorld (and what you should learn about it when visiting)

A magic window. But no matter how
captivating you  may find the view,
please remember it's someone's home.
Yesterday I received the shock of my life when someone decided my quaint little Irish home was a tourist attraction. Here's what happened - and what I hope visitors to rural Ireland might learn.

I live in Eyeries, County Cork, something of an idyllic location perched in the very southwest corner of this country. Too, I'm blessed to live in a rather quaint, blue cottage-like home overlooking the sea. 

Like most homes it You know: those things holding glass in a large frame that let in light and let you look out. Windows have another occasionally bemusing function of course. They also let other people look in.

Living in Eyeries as I do, we get a stream of tourists visiting the area mostly during the peak summer months. Because my home is on the only Main Street in the village, all sorts of people walk past. And many are attracted to the front window because - well, they're curious, is all.

You must understand, if you look into my front window from the Main Street you can see all the way through the house, all the way to the back room ... and right out the far window which happens to overlook Coulagh Bay and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. If the weather happens to be fabulous - a rare event in this part of the world - that little view is staggering.

Which means, of course, that the front window operates rather like a magnet. People walking past will glance at the window. They'll get a glimpse of what's beyond. They'll stroll up to the glass. And they'll stand there, gawping at the view.

Now if you happen to live in this house like I do, you get somewhat used to living in a fish bowl. I'll be sitting on my couch, for example. I'll look up - and there gawking into my front living room will be a half-dozen tourists. Honestly, it usually doesn't bother me. Usually. But there are occasions when it does.

The Mad Woman from Texas
Like two days ago, for instance. I was in the back room and chanced to walk into the living room. I looked up - and there was yet another tourist gawping into the house. Only this one was acting somewhat brazenly.

This one was holding a camera. She was pointing it into the interior of my home. I realised instantly that she intended to take a photo of the stunning view out back. Which was absolutely fine by me. I walked toward her with a grin on my face, intending to make her welcome and perhaps even offer to take her onto my back deck. The views there are unobstructed, naturally, and she would get a much better photograph.

Anyway, as I approached her, I noticed one of her fingers pointing at me. Then it began to wave madly as if some sort of insane turn indicator. For a minute I couldn't figure out what she was doing. Then I realised:

The woman wanted me to move. I was blocking her view. I was spoiling her picture and her fun. 

She wanted me to get out of the way. Even though it was my home. 

And I wanted to kill her.

I am not proud to say it but I lost the plot. I stormed out the front door. There, the woman was still standing at my front window, camera in hand, ignoring anything else except her intent  to get the best photograph in all of Ireland.

Me (steaming mad): May I ask what you are doing?
Texas Nut (ignoring me): I'm trying to take a photo. Now if you don't mind....
Me (gobsmacked): I beg your pardon? 
She (still not turning): Look,fella. Can you please be quiet for a minute? I'm almost through.
Me (starting to boil): Where are you from?
She (finally turning to me): What? What did you ask?
Me (hah! I got her attention!): Where are you from?
She (realising something just might be wrong): Why I'm from Texas honey.
Me: I'm from Chicago. Do you understand that this is my home? You wanted me to move because I was spoiling your pathetic little picture and... this is my home? You are possibly the rudest individual I have ever met in my life!
She (still not quite getting it): Rude? Why are you angry? Everyone from Ireland is so nice. Why aren't you nice?
Me (not believing the comment): We are nice when people treat us nice. Now get away from my house. Right now. Before I unleash my nasty dog (I do own a dog but he's frightened of even small things like buzzing flies and wouldn't harm a soul).

The Mad Texas Woman gave me a look that suggested I was insane. Perhaps believing I was an escapee from a mental ward she walked carefully around me, then broke into a run and ran away. 

Rural Ireland is Not DisneyWorld
The Mad Woman from Texas never grasped even remotely why I was angry. Instead, she believed (as a very tiny minority do) that all the quaint little structures - the houses and shops and wee little pubs - have been magically fabricated just for their entertainment.

These slobs think they have the right to do just about anything. They touch and grasp and stand on stuff and ignore signage printed in bold lettering: PRIVATE PROPERTY. KEEP OUT. 

These are the rude ones. They have no respect for almost anything and from a local standpoint, quickly out stay their welcome.

And I don't want you to think Mad Americans are the only ones who can behave like this. I've run into Germans, French, Dutch, Italians ... rude people can be from anywhere.

For instance, last  year I caught a German couple who decided to have a picnic in my back garden. I'd been away at a meeting and came home to find Hans and Gretta perched on my sun loungers eating sandwiches. When I suggested they were trespassing they became offended. "Gretta, we won't come back," said Hans. And they marched out the door.

Last week it was a bus load of French. Again I'd been at a meeting. Again I came home - to find 20 people snooping around my back garden. "Ah, don't you realise this is private property?" I ask. "I mean, the entire yard is fenced in. Isn't it obvious that it is a home?" 

The 20 shook  their heads in unison. making them look like a troupe of Parisian Puppets on parade. "Private property? It cannot possible be private property."

I knew they were lying. Of course they realised it was someone's home, not that it made a difference to them. They decided to trespass so they could get a better view. That's all.

Or on another occasion: it was about 8:30 in the morning. I'd just taken my shower and was standing in a towel in the kitchen getting a cup of coffee.

The front door, which I forgot to lock, suddenly opened. A woman who never had the chance to put a name on her nationality walked fully into the room.

She: "Oh I say! That's a wonderful cup of coffee I smell."
Me (absolutely flummoxed): "Ah, yes."
She: "Could I buy one, do  you think?"
Me (unbelieving): "Ah, no."
She (the light suddenly dawning): "This isn't a cafe, is it?"

Then she noticed only a towel separating the rest of my body from total nudity and left.

I've kept the door locked ever since.

Please Be Respectful
If and when you visit rural Ireland I honestly think you'll love it. The people are warm and inviting and will make you feel at home. You'll experience some absolutely stunning views and you'll make some wonderful memories.

All I ask is this: what you're seeing and visiting - those quaint little buildings that could be a part of a DisneyWorld Main Street location - were not built by Walt & Co.

They are homes and businesses. People - including parents and kids, dogs and cats, cows and sheep - live there.

Please respect that, okay? And if you decide to take a picture through someone's front window, don't wag your finger at him to get out of the way so you can get an unobstructed shot.

If you do that, you may find you have annoyed an immigrant Yank.

If this blog interests you and you want to learn more about Ireland why not consider purchasing A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland 2017 Edition. Are you thinking about living and working in Ireland? Would you like to move to Ireland? Do you want to know how to get an Irish work visa in this country? Do you need to know how Brexit and Trump policies may affect your plans? If so, consider purchasing the 2017 edition of A Survivor's Guide to Living in Ireland by Tom Richards. Now almost 90,000 words long, this book could make the perfect gift for  those interested in this wonderful country. Over 14,000 people have now learned how to live, laugh, and drink like the Irish by reading this Kindle ebook. I hope you enjoy, and my very best - Tom

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