The first time I stepped foot on Irish soil I received an immediate glimpse into the Irish character. We had just completed an enjoyable ferry trip from Wales into Dun Laoghaire, Ireland. Stepping off the boat, we were instructed to “find the bus to take you to the car rental. But hurry, they are about to leave.” Rolling our little black suitcases as quickly as we could, and not having a clue where to go, we walked with serious purpose as Americans on foreign soil are wont to do at times. By the time we spied the rather old-looking bus sitting WAY across the parking lot, we were feeling rather desperate and very late. As we entered the packed bus, the driver seemed very put-out with us. I made my apologies, but he only said, “Find your seat; we’ve been waiting.”
We sat there rather sulkily, as all the other passengers seemed mad also. Dead silence on the bus. Where was the famous Irish humor and hospitality I had heard so much about? It certainly wasn’t on this bus. But then, the bus erupted into uproarious laughter. The driver said, “Welcome to Ireland. We were only giving you a bit o’ craic!” It seems that this whole incident was a rather elaborately-schemed joke on us. Soon, we were laughing right along with them.
This is something I adore about the Irish. They refuse to take themselves or you too seriously; they love the art of storytelling, conversation, music, and definitely laughter.
*Craic = Irish slang word meaning good times and good conversation.