Sunday, 18 June 2017

Ignorance is bliss

If my memory is still intact, it was 2005. My husband and I were visiting a friend in Kinsale, near Cork. He invited us to his place because he had just moved back from Dublin, and he wanted us to see how beautiful the area was. He was right. The village was like an Irish postcard, with colourful houses and narrow streets, full of pubs, seafood restaurants and a little harbour.

It was really hot that day, well, by Irish standards anyway! Our friend was working in a pub close to the harbour so we went for a drink, and during his break we all sat down outside on the wall, looking at boats passing by.

As we were soaking up the sun, we started to talk about our life in Ireland. We didn't have any serious commitments at the time, none of us. There was no mortgage, insurance, or kids in the picture. I was still driving my French car in total illegality. My job was easy, without any real responsibility. We didn't have any worries, really. Maybe just paying the rent on time and the phone bill which was always expensive because of the calls back home. We had a cosy appartment, great neighbours and in a village we loved. We were going out regularly and had many friends from a variety of horizons.

We were thinking of going back to France though, but at that point in the conversation, our friend asked the question: "What is it that you like most about living here?". The answer came so naturally that I still remember it to this day (well, maybe not in exact terms, but the general sense is still there!): "What I love about Ireland is that we live here in total ignorance. We have an easy life and with our salary we can live comfortably for our needs. We live in that little bubble and we're not really interested in the economic or political state of the country because it doesn't affect us".

And as we were finishing our drinks, feeling the gentle breeze on our shoulders we all thought the same thing: "This the life!"

Of course, as the years went by, things changed, as they always do. I finally bought an Irish car, we applied for a mortgage and bought an appartment, had kids... And we started following the news and budget announcements more because this time it was affecting us, especially during the recession.

Surprisingly, I  had the same conversation the other day with a friend I hadn't seen for years. I was in Paris for work and we met for a meal. She was nostalgic about her life in Ireland, and if her health was better, she would be thinking of going back. And then she said it. The same thing I said all those years ago. She loved living in Ireland because she was in her bubble of work and friends, of going out and visiting the country. She was oblivious to the political or economical aspects of the country because it didn't affect her.

So maybe that's it. Maybe that's the reason why French people love Ireland so much. Let's face it, only a minority stays for the long-term, but for those who went back to France and long for their experience in Ireland, what is it that you loved about the country? Could it be this sense of freedom, fun and the fact that you were not really affected by anything else other than your little bubble?

I still love Ireland of course, but the innocence stage is long gone. We've been through a lot in the past 10 years or so, but yesterday at the beach, soaking up the sun on what certainly was the hottest day of the year, I thought to myself "This is the life!".