I’m just back from a crazy busy weekend in Milwaukee & Chicago – I’m sad to say it was my last US trip of the year but I couldn’t think of a better way to end the year of travelling I’ve had here – it definitely ended on a high note.
Friday to Sunday was spent working at Irish Fest in Milwaukee – the biggest Irish festival in the world! With over 150,000 thousand (somewhat) Irish people there and 8 different stages filled with Irish music, it was so nice to be immersed in real Irish culture again before coming home. There is something about being away from home that makes you appreciate it so much more.
After a year spent working with Tourism Ireland I think I’ve definitely developed a really nice mental image of Ireland and what it means to be Irish – this weekend just reminded me of what I already know – we are great craic. Friday evening was a perfect example – we were stuck outside in a huge storm (how typical – at Irishfest). The whole festival had to shut down for 2 hours while the storm was going on, in the meantime there was a big group of us sitting outside under a tent, having a sing song and telling stories as we waited for it to pass. Any of you who have me on Snapchat probably saw this happening live.
Another thing I found really interesting about the festival was all the people of Irish decent. I know we are all guilty of having doubts/ rolling our eyes at Americans who claim “I’m Irish”, but after this weekend I really have found a new respect for people who make the effort to try and figure out where there from. Some people I was talking to knew their parents were Irish, but didn’t know where exactly they were from. Others knew every detail down to the house name and had visited lots of times. One lady I was talking to told me a story about how she had traced her great-grandparents back to Croom in Limerick – not too far from where I’m from. They moved over in 1850 during the famine and never got the chance to go back – the whole family is now scattered around the US and until recently knew nothing about their Irish heritage – it’s mad to think how many people like that there probably are out here.
Sunday night, I head to Chicago for the first time, where I caught up with some of my friends from DCU: Lorna, Suzi & Kenneth. I have to say from the second I arrived I fell in love with Chicago. I’m definitely a city girl – Milwaukee was fun for a few days but it was nice to be back in the city buzz. I got such a nice vibe from the city with the gorgeous buildings, the lake, the beach, the people… I was definitely sad I only had a day to spend there. Saying that, we didn’t let a second go to waste. I made it to the River Walk, The Hancock Tower, The Sky Deck in Willis Tower, The Giant Bean in Millenium Park and to the Navy Pier.