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Post Congress Trip SIETAR Europa 2017 from Dublin to the West of IrelandTo suggest a correction please Login

West of Ireland

This guest post is by Joanna Sell, co-organiser for the forum Stories for Europe, the founder of Intercultural Compass and co-organiser of the forum ‘beyond storytelling.’

After the SIETAR Europa congress ended in Dublin, ten of us decided to visit part of the island outside the city, all the way across the island to the West. Joe Kearns, who planned the journey, called it the ‘Wild West Tour’. The greatest enrichment during our Wild West Tour were the people, both those who travelled with us and those we met during our journey. We were eight SIETARians, plus two of our partners.

after coordinating a successful SIETAR Europa congress, we wanted some time off so we saw this 'complaints department 300 miles --->' with perfect timing
After all the hard work at the congress in Dublin, we wanted a well-deserved break, so we had to chuckle when we saw this sign mentioning the ‘complaints department 300 miles —->’  (photo by Sue Shinomiya)

 

Joe was the only one from Ireland. He briefed us in a conference room at the congress venue, the day before we began our journey. It helped us prepare for what sites we were about to see over the next few days. He shared the area of the island where some of his family background comes from. Joe planned comfortable bed and breakfasts for us. We drove in three separate cars. Joe was the only one used to driving on the left. It seems inevitable to share stories with each other about past experiences of driving on the other side of the road.

We encountered hospitable, helpful and smiling Irish people. Thanks to Joe we had the opportunity to experience the history of the green island through his stories and his insights into his family’s path. We were Dimitris, Gradiola, Joanna, Joe, Marianne and her partner Kees, Nicolas, Pascale and her partner Stefano, and Sue. Each of us discovered Ireland on an individual level and with Joe as our “personal guide” we learned about Irish culture and history. Our diverse, multilingual group mingled languages. We shared fantastic stories during short hikes, sightseeing and during mealtimes.

photo by Gradiola Kapaj
photo by Sue Shinomiya

Belmullet with Google mapsHighlights of the journey include: jumping into the cold Atlantic water, dancing to live music in a cosy pub, chatting with our hosts at B&Bs, and doing tai-chi on a gorgeous beach. Especially one corner of Ireland will always remain in our memories: Belmullet. This picturesque piece of the green landscape literally invited us to enjoy nature and share observations on cultural similarities and differences. Time slowed down and friendships emerged.

At the welcome event in Dublin. Joe stressed the British impact on the Irish capital. For most of us, it was our first time to experience Ireland beyond Dublin. The landscape and the people left an amazing impression on us. As interculturalists, we had a wonderful opportunity to bond and learn about each other’s experiences in the intercultural field.

Thanks to unusually beautiful sunny weather over the four days of our journey, we were able to see the green landscape under blue skies. On the drive back to Dublin, before we reached the motorway, Rhododendron was dotting the landscape adding splashes of colour creating a visual feast to add to our last memories of the Wild West Tour.

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