Honest, that’s what I heard for most of the time I was in Ireland — the Irish telling me how much better certain things are there than here.  So here’s my list of what I found to actually be better in Ireland.  I’ll probably think of a few more things as soon as this is posted, but for now here it is:

Castle ruins, Cashel

Ruins — Ireland has the best ruins.  They are state protected, and most all of them I saw also had a plaque or something telling you what they were the ruins of.

Butter — yes, I know, how can you have an attachment to butter?  I wouldn’t have understood this myself if I hadn’t gone there and actually tasted it.  What’s the difference?  Ours is limited to 80% butterfat, and the Irish runs 84-87%.  You’d wonder how this could make it better, but it darn well does.  Their butter is really yellow, unlike our pale cousin, and has an actual flavour.  In fact, I could get by with just a butter sandwich over there … and what it does to potatoes.  Geez!  And, that leads me to the next best thing …

Bread — imagine bread that has just come out of the oven of your Gran’s wood stove.  THAT’S what Irish bread is like.  Even their packaged sandwich bread is grand.  I don’t know how they do it … but you go into any grocery store and there are STACKS of fresh, warm bread.  Needless to say, you eat bread with every meal, sometimes in between meals … If I lived there I’d be 500 pounds.

By the sea …

Seafood — it is an island after all.  I personally think there’s no reason to ever eat anything else over there … unless you’re eating chips (french fries), which seem to appear with every meal as well.  I could rhapsodize about the fish, the shrimp, the crab, the itsy bitsy squid, and more.  No doubt we can get good seafood too if you travel to one of our coasts … but everywhere in Ireland is close to a coast!

People — yes I know, we have lots of fantastic fabulous people (and I am friends with a lot of them) but the hospitality of a place like Cashel is quite wondrous.  I have lived in small places (like Port Hope) and big places (like Toronto).  Cashel’s downtown is about the size of Port Hope (it has a smaller population but the downtown is pretty similar), and I’m not saying that we are unfriendly (after all we have a pretty good reputation for friendliness too) but, my god, people talked to me in the streets — didn’t just wave to me in passing — and shopkeepers just about carried my stuff for me.  Stopping for a cup of tea?  On your own?  No problem.  And, if you’ve already been met in the company of someone they know, you’re golden.  They actually remember … It took a bit for an introvert like myself to get used to!  Then there’s the actually hospitality of your hosts, wherever you happen to be, and that was nothing short of astounding … 

I could go on and on, but if you are Irish I don’t want you to get a swelled head.  I have a bit of the Irish myself (on my father’s side way, way, back) but much more of the Scots — and I absolutely LOVE Scotland as well, but you know there was a lot of channel hopping between the Irish and the Scots (and our DNA certainly shows that).  But, I can’t remember the Scottish butter  …

Bread Crock

And, I’m sure that by now you’re wondering whether I had a chance to check out any potters in Ireland.  Sadly, the busyness of my time there didn’t lend itself to discovering pottery studios but I did manage to get to some of the specialty shops that carried what might have been the most popular potters.  Only saw one thing that made me get out my wallet — and what would it be?  Of course it’s a bread crock!  It actually works.  Keeps the bread soft and fresh without going moldy and stuff.  Who’d believe it, eh?  The Irish figured out a way to keep bread at it’s best!  

That’s it for today.  There’s lot’s more I could add, but maybe in another post.  I have to get back to the studio to glaze tons of work — getting ready for all of the shows I’m committed to in the next few weeks.  Good thing I’ve got bread in the crock to keep me going!

Hope you’re day is fabulous, and that you’ve found your winter boots!  I understand that winter is supposed to be here tomorrow …

Much love,

Susan McD

PS — forgot to mention the Irish sense of humour … and the pubs!

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