Rachel Gaffney’s Letter From Texas

This time my trip to Ireland was very different. It looked different and it felt different. This must have been what Ireland looked and sounded like long before people travelled internationally.

A country devoid of all, well almost all, foreign accents.

I was aware of different regional Irish accents. It was indeed lovely to meet a couple from Carrickfergus, Co Antrim and hear accents from my own home county of Cork, while spending time in Connemara and Co Down. Irish people were indeed moving around their own country. But, it felt so incredibly strange not to hear people speaking French and Italian or to not see or hear groups of Spanish students gathering in cities during their usual Summer study programmes.

There was another huge gaping chasm and that was the absence of the American accent. I missed spotting the college spirit wear and trying to identify the college, football or baseball team represented on that hat or sweatshirt. I missed seeing the stylish French and Italian gentlemen, who when walking along the Irish streets, looked like they walked off a runway. I missed hearing people get so visibly excited and animated upon discovering their heritage.

I felt rather sad.

Ordinarily I would not have come to Ireland during such unusual times but we had planned to film for a few weeks and we felt that this material could be used to plan future trips and to promote Ireland for 2021.

I added two weeks to this trip to abide by the self quarantine rules. Once completed, I drove in one car and the cameraman drove in another.

It was rather disheartening to hear such anti American sentiment. On one occasion I was driving over the Caha Pass from Cork to Kerry and I stopped to take in the view outside Molly Gallivan’s Traditional Farm and Cottage. Two men sat on the wall and we exchanged a few pleasantries. After I had said how beautiful it was, one of the men said to me “You know what’s more beautiful, no Yanks here this summer.” This was not the first or last time this summer I heard such comments but I chose to ignore them.

The Notre Dame v Navy College Football game was due to be held in Dublin on August 29. The cancellation of this game obviously saw so much of my business cancel along with it. Unfortunately as there are no plans for this game to be played anytime in the next couple of years (Nebraska v Illinois will be played in 2021), the business has cancelled. People have not re-scheduled.

I find there is only one way to deal with the loss of business, disappointment and hard times and that is simply to accept them. Acceptance does not mean you have to like it. I do not like it at all. I am hopeful. I simply cannot see this lasting forever. People will travel and people do want to plan their travel. They want something to look forward to. I did notice some changes in how people were travelling before Covid and now these changes seem to be here to stay. People want to avoid cities. They want more outdoor adventures and open spaces. They want exclusive use of properties for small groups.

When I flew out of Dublin Airport on August 26th, it felt as though they opened the airport just for me. I saw chairs upturned on tables, staff standing idly around and no lines at security. It was just eery and sad. Now that I am back in Dallas, I will spend the winter months talking about every new place, product and person I met and discovered. I will design and curate group trips for the summer of 2021. The trips may look a little different, but the time I spent researching over the summer will certainly pay off. Here’s to a healthier 2021, in every way.



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