I’m Jolene, a writer and photographer from Bellingham, Washington, whose love affair with Ireland began in 2010 while sampling whiskeys. Under the influence of Jameson and a cute Irish bartender, I booked a trip right there in the bar on my smart phone! Five years and as many trips later, I decided to leave my corporate job to live in Ireland for a summer. My blog and photo galleries are an attempt to share the real Ireland with people and inspire others to book a trip of their own (with or without the whiskey).
Over one million North Americans visit the Emerald Isle each year. Perhaps fascination abounds because of her exports: leading men with lilting accents, film classics such as the Quiet Man, or literary masterpieces from Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, or in more recent decades, Frank McCourt with his tragic memoir. Or perhaps it’s because 40 million Americans claim to have Irish ancestry. Without fail, when I tell someone I’ve been there, they’ll respond with one of two things, “I’ve always wanted to go there!” or a wistful, “I wish I could go back.” Many people report this thrall after leaving, and no matter how many years pass it haunts them still; it certainly haunts me. I’m not even Irish (that I know of), so perhaps it’s my Viking ancestry? They first raided Ireland around 800 A.D. and kept returning until Brian Boru put a stop to it in the 11th Century. But let’s not speak of that dark day in history…
While people have different reasons for loving Ireland (and many of them come in a pint glass), I think the top one is always her hospital people. There’s a reason it’s called “Ireland of the Welcomes”. Drop by any pub, order a pint, and take a seat. You’ll fit right in.
I am currently editing a memoir about my travels. Hopefully, I’ll find the right agent and you’ll soon see it on the shelves: Spirited Away: How whiskey and online dating fueled my love affair with Ireland.