Monday, May 26, 2008

The "Real" Ireland

There was a great article in The New York Times last week: Does the "Real" Ireland Still Exist? It takes a look at the dichotomy between the simple life of traditional Ireland many of us have in our minds (think sheep and thatched cottages) and the increasingly cosmopolitan, complex, and multicultural country that is emerging today.

The author references the town of Gort, which has a sizable Brazilian community, where there is now a Brazilian music night in one of the pubs and a Sunday mass in Portuguese. We saw something similar in Dublin last year when looking at the Sunday mass times at one of the churches. There were five masses--one in English, one in Latin, and three in Polish. It's representative of the influx of Eastern Europeans to Ireland since its membership in the European Union.

The author, Dan Barry, also talks about the changing landscape around the town of Kinvara, in western Ireland, that you can see from the top of Dunguaire Castle, which has stood for nearly 500 years. Indeed, we saw this when we scaled to the pinnacle of the castle last year. From the top, you can see the pretty traditional village of Kinvara, nestled between an arm of Galway Bay and the rocky shoulders of the Burren in the background. You can also see the new subdivisions being built and sold to young professionals at the cost of more than $1 million. Just another example of how Ireland is changing. I'm attaching pictures I took from the castle top of the village of Kinvara and the new homes being built.

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