Irish Eyes are Smiling

IMG_1762A few weeks ago we toured Ireland, and I couldn’t help but think of Colossians 3:12, “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.” We found these virtues abundant in the bed and breakfasts, in the shops, or when navigating roundabouts, getting lost on narrow country roads, or taking a wrong turn in the cities. Oh that we would display such virtues more often in our own country!

It was refreshing to see that people weren’t in any hurry to get ahead. They sat in the pubs and town squares chatting and laughing and enjoying each other’s company. And they went out of their way to make us feel welcome wherever we were.

When we told folks we were going to Ireland, everyone who had been there said that the Irish people are the highlight of any trip to Ireland. “They’re the friendliest and most hospitable people on earth,” they said. We didn’t really know what that meant, but we soon found out that they were right. In our weeklong stay on the Emerald Isle, we met so many friendly people—and only met one grumpy salesclerk. Amazing!

The Irish happily give you directions, even lead the way if you’re lost, and the Irish B&B’s are the best ever. Even in stores or pubs, people are unpretentious and helpful, and good humor is their calling card. At our favorite B&B, the Eden Villa, our hosts were Peter and Mary Brennan who acclimated us to County Sligo with a video and afternoon tea before kindly sending us off to explore the area.

The Irish have survived Viking invasions, harsh and unfair British rule, the devastating famine of 1847-9, the War of Independence in 1918, and the Troubles of the 1970-90. Yet, after all those terrible and unforgivable injustices and difficulties, they aren’t “entitled” or bitter. Instead, the Irish are good, kind, positive people who have forgiven and moved on to be successful throughout the world.

What would our country and our world look like if more of us would employ such virtues in our lives? If we’d chat with our neighbors more often instead of driving into our garage and shutting the door? If we’d linger after church or offer to serve? If we’d be a little more patient in the lines at WalMart or in traffic? I must admit that the Irish gave me something to ponder—mixed with a bit of conviction.

In this uncivil society we live in, I’m grateful to be reminded that kindness, friendliness, hospitality, and patience truly are virtues to live by. Thanks, Ireland, for the friendly reminder.

When was the last time you saw these virtues in abundance? I’d love to know!


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