Dublin Diaries: Finding My Niche

The Dublin Diaries: Finding my Niche
by Margaret Mark Hicks

Beck and I at Kennedy’s Pub in Drumcondra, Dublin to watch the All-Ireland Football Championship

Last time I wrote, I was in a very different headspace and a lot of things were still very uncertain. I am happy to say that I have finally gotten the chance to be acclimated to life in Dublin. I have made some great friends, travelled to the West and gained my confidence back with living independently again.

My program has a lot of wonderful people and I am glad to be in a position similar to what many others are going through. The students in my cohort are from all over the world so I am constantly surrounded by new perspectives, cultures and diversity.

While I hoped there would be more Irish students in my program, I am grateful that Trinity is such an inclusive environment where we can all rely on each other for the unique skills and experiences each of us bring to the table. I have found a group of friends that support each other and embrace me for who I am.

Most importantly, we can all have a good laugh and be really open and honest with each other. It is wonderful to have gained that support system so quickly and serves testament to how easy it is to find your niche. 

At the end of September, a few other American students and I rented a car (much to my aunt’s delight… not) and drove to the west coast for the Matchmaking Festival in Lisdoonvarna. It was an entertaining trip and I loved the opportunity to see County Clare.

While at the festival, we headed over to the Matchmaker Bar to meet William Daly, Ireland’s only traditional matchmaker. We were sure to touch his lucky book, which as legend has it will bring you love and happiness with one hand, and with two hands you will be married within six months. Don’t worry, I only used one hand. 

Margaret Mary touching William Dalys lucky book of matches to hope for love and happiness

The festival was such a cool experience. People of all ages came from all over the country to dance, drink and have a good craic in Lisdoonvarna. It is a more traditional view of Ireland rather than the metropolitan Dublin, which was great to be able to experience.

While I love Dublin and the opportunity here, it is lovely to escape and relax for a weekend in the countryside. My friends and I want to return to Clare soon for a trip to the Cliffs of Moher and stay at the same Bed and Breakfast we did last time. It was a wonderful stay at with a couple from Birmingham who made one of the best full Irish breakfasts I’ve ever had.

While I originally had big plans to travel all over Europe on my weekends, I am also excited to explore everything Ireland has to offer. I am lucky to be in one of the most beautiful countries in the world and proud to call Ireland my home now. 

Before I moved to Ireland, I used to always love how Irish family and friends would ask me when I was ‘home’ last. By home, they meant Ireland. It made me think about what it means to be a third-generation Irish American.

While other countries might be hesitant to embrace me as their own or force me to assimilate to their culture before it becomes my home, Ireland claims me as a resident and embraces me as their own. I love that Ireland will always be a home to me.

When I told my program director that my grandparents were born in Ireland, the first thing she said was, “Welcome home.” I am honored to be able to call Ireland my home and it goes deeper than that. I am proud to represent my grandparents in the country they loved so dearly. It is great to celebrate my Irish heritage in Cleveland, but it feels all the more worthwhile to celebrate my Irish roots in Ireland. 

Most importantly, I have become comfortable living in this city. My life is beginning to unfold here, and I am so happy for all the joys to come. It feels like so long ago that I was wishing to be back home, but with time and a little Irish luck, I am more confident in myself and my abilities.

Doing things on my own like eating by myself or shopping alone is something I never thought I would be comfortable with but having to find and do things independently has been an unbelievably rewarding experience. I have been able to navigate this city and get what I need on my own and while I do miss shopping trips with my mom, I am glad to be able to go home and show her my new boots on Facetime. 

It is amazing thinking about how my grandparents came over on the boat through Ellis Island, not knowing when they would be able to speak to their family in Ireland again. I can’t imagine not being able to call my family or send them a quick message when I am missing them.

For that reason, I am so grateful for the wonders of technology. I am also grateful to be able to share this experience not only for my own self-interest, but with others who can hopefully find my diary each month entertaining. Thanks for reading, everyone!

Slán go fóill,
MM

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