Shades of Green

With one week down on my time in Dublin everything is beginning to settle in. I’ve met some great people and have started to adjust to the new living arrangements. With the last name “McTiernan” and the apparently interesting character trait of being from America, it doesn’t take long to strike up a good conversation with someone on the bus or in a pub. I am usually greeted with a “Welcome home!” and a generous offer to buy me a pint, which out of respect I can’t decline. The charisma and fun-loving attitude of the Irish people I’ve met have made all the difference making this tiny island feel like home.

In conversations getting to know my coworkers they have asked me about how I’ve been enjoying Ireland and what I’ve been up to. They were both delighted to hear about the many adventures and slightly embarrassed by the number stereotypical tourist attracts that they themselves have yet to do in their own backyards. I’ve been able to visit St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Dublin Castle, The book of Kells (whose “Long Room” is pictured to the left) the beautiful Wicklow mountains, Glendalough, and so much more all in just my first week. Although, my manager Mark was mostly jealous of the Jameson and Guinness tours.

One of the most interesting things I’ve been able to participate in since I’ve arrived was at Na Fienna, a local Gaelic sports club that our internship program brought us to. In Ireland they have soccer and rugby like most of Europe. But something unique to the Island are what they call the Gaelic games: a collection of traditional Irish sports that include Gaelic Football, Hurling, Ladies Football, Camogie, Handball and Rounders (with Ladies Football and Camogie being the female version of the first two). These sports are like nothing I had seen before and encapsulate the ruggedness of Irish culture with the community pride and historical reverence that keeps these traditions alive. Unlike rugby, soccer, and other international sports the Gaelic games follow a different set of competitive rules. The players cannot be paid and the one out of 32 counties you are born into is the only team you can play for, there are no trades. These rules mark the foundation of the games and symbolize what these games represent in Irish culture, an extension of their historical pride and loyalty to their community. The amateur nature of these games however doesn’t mean that they aren’t still popular, the championship games brought in almost a million people (977,723) attended in 2017. It was amazing to learn about this unique cultural pastime and a good bit of fun being able to get out onto the field and play them myself.

As I’ve come to acquaint myself with the busses and living arrangements, I’ve been able to focus more on being productive and learning at my internship. Working at the support center for about 20 pharmacies I am able to see both the large-scale decisions and the small scale effects in action. When working on projects for my manager it is stressed how important that our results and outcomes be dependable. In an industry that deals so closely with healthcare and medicine consistency and reliability is held at a premium. Starting my work in the HR department I have been many small projects so far, but in a support office of only 30 employees it is easy to see the impact of one’s work. As I am continuing the progress of my coworkers to develop the internal HR portal for the company it is satisfying to see the work that I complete during one day being used to solve actual problems the next.

A trademark quality that I see in how my coworkers interact with their fellow employees and customers is a heightened sense of politeness. I can tell this is part of their culture by noticing no conversation is started without first asking how someone’s day is going. In America where directness and clarity are champions, it is considered rude to start a conversation or phone call without first asking a few personal questions. Even though it is reasonable to reply with a “fine thanks and how are you”, this step is crucial in creating goodwill and fostering a positive relationship.

I hope after my 8 weeks here I’ll be able to bring some of this politeness back to the US. In times where being politically correct is seen as a bad thing, Ireland is a shining example of how caring about your community and one another can be a beautify thing.