When rural Ireland became trendy

Sara GlynnBy Sarah Glynn | gargoyle@flagler.edu

While most people I knew were partying on a beach for Spring Break, I found myself in a small house in the Irish countryside, a two hour drive from the nearest big city of Galway in Conamara. Nineteen classmates and I listened to a local named Dearbhaill Standún tell us about her culture and what is it’s like to live in rural Ireland, all while making soda bread from scratch. While I thoughtfully listened to her speak, I had one particular question for her: Can I have that recipe?

As we toured the land Dearbhaill and her husband owned, a 200-acre nearly undisturbed bog land, we were shown where they grew their own vegetables, worked the land and lived themselves. While isolated, there was something dreamy about living like they did, away from modern accommodations and the busyness of the daily life I had grown up in. The group I was with agreed for the most part, and it made me think back to what the United States as a whole, at least from my point of view, was heading towards.

My sophomore year, I worked at a small restaurant in downtown St. Augustine where they proudly displayed their qualifications as a “slow food” establishment in the front window. This is a certificate that is only given to a restaurant that supports local, sustainable food sources for the dishes they serve. The Slow Food movement has 225 different chapters across the U.S. and is growing. At the same time, big chains like McDonald’s have suddenly seen a drop in sales after years of growth. Many Americans, myself included, are beginning to move away from the manufactured, unnatural practices of restaurant chains like McDonald’s and are beginning to think about where our food comes from again.

Comparing all this to that small cottage in Conamara, where the only options are local and sustainable, made me realize after years of moving into the age of technology we are now reverting back to our roots — to small gardens in our own backyards and more small, slow food restaurants. Somewhere among the big corporations and machines that made our food, people like me began to miss the small house in the country side where you make your own sode bread.

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