Every time I entered an establishment in Ireland, someone greeted me with the phrase, “You’re very welcome.” And every single time, it took me aback.
I consider myself a very polite person, so immediately felt that I’d been remiss in thanking my hosts for something. In America, the “you are welcome” phrase always follows the “thank you.” But in Ireland, they beat you to the punch with this graciously warm welcome, and the roles are suddenly reversed.
“You are very welcome…”
My host for much of my travel in Ireland was Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority. They were extremely gracious and hospitable, so it came as no surprise to learn that the word Fáilte is Gaelic for welcome.
As mentioned in my earlier post, I couldn’t believe my good luck to be invited to participate in a press trip organized by Fáilte Ireland. They took us to Limerick, the 2014 National City of Culture. There we were greeted by the Mayor, museum curators, tavern managers, and castle guides. We sipped champagne and whiskey and were treated to behind-the-scenes glimpses of all that Limerick had to offer. We wrote limericks and listened to stories of Frank McCourt and his family. We were whisked to an array of museums in Limerick, and walked along the River Shannon, admiring the views of St. John’s Castle.
We had the chance to climb aboard a flying boat at Foyne’s and indulged in irish coffee. We received the royal treatment at Adare Manor and did a little shopping in Kildare. And at every place we stopped, we heard a variation of these words: Céad míle fáilte (a hundred thousand welcomes). The only thing I can say in return to Failte Ireland and all of our other hosts — a hundred thousand thanks.
Have you been the lucky beneficiary of Irish hospitality?