Dates lived: September 2011 – October 2011
Schull (pronounced Skull) is a village on the southern-most western tip of Ireland. The rain can beat heavily against your window on a mild September night, and the fog might creep up to your door step if the sun isn’t out in full force. The view of the ocean, and the happy boats of every size, color, and shape as they perch in the soft waves, is magnificent. A bell chimes low as a small current bobs its buoy up and down; maybe a seagull or two squawk at the sound. As the waves crash ashore into the rocks, a gust of sweet salty air is kicked up and carried your way, and it reminds me of the smell of the Pacific on a warm Southern California day. If the wind is not too harsh, this moment, by the docks near the sailing center, becomes picturesque.
The village has one main street, appropriately named Main Street, which consist of only two franchises, the Eurospar and Centra, and colorful ‘mom and pop’ shops: a Crêperie, a fish market, etc. The Atlantic School of English and Active Leisure (where I earned my TESOL certificate) stands proudly in the middle of it all, a pub on either side of it, The Black Sheep and Hackett’s. My month spent living in Schull was a unique one, as the entire month consisted of an intense course of teaching methodology, lesson planning, and spending weekends at the school with my classmates, typing away on other assignments. I was there long enough (or early enough, considering the time frame) to catch the tail-end of the World Sailing Championships. Main Street was decorated with flags from around the world, hanging between buildings and in shop windows. The local dentist painted an homage to the Japanese on the side of his office, showing his condolences for their recent massive natural disasters.
The Irish of West Cork are just as lively as anyone else; their accents float up and down in a sentence of waves, almost singing. Their affinity for putting the word ‘like’ in-between words in sentences and at the end of sentences and questions I find rather charming. (Ya know, like?) It, again, reminds me of Southern California and the way ‘like’ is used in sentences here. (And it was like we were speaking like the same language) There was also an abundance of people from other parts Europe as well, who at some point decided to move to this village (where some of my Irish friends in Galway didn’t know where it was) and open their own shops or work simple jobs, all while improving their English. The vibrancy of Schull is made even more remarkable by its people.
I became hyper-aware of the difference in pronunciation of certain words in Ireland/UK as compared to America largely due to my studies in ESL, where I discovered that the word “banana” can be pronounced at least three different ways and has variable spellings in phonemic script. The middle ‘na’ in my pronunciation of the word is more nasally, and I was teased constantly for my pronunciation of “presentation” and “aluminum.” It was all in good fun though. Accents are fascinating. The house that I stayed in was pretty class too.
Pubs of note: The Black Sheep and Hackett’s, which sandwich Atlantic S.E.A.L between them. The Black Sheep handed out a free pint of Guinness to everyone in the pub for Arthur’s Day, although I’d mainly go to The Black Sheep for the Food and Hackett’s for drinks. Since Schull is largely a fishing town, any seafood meal you get will be fresh and incredibly tasty. On weekend nights The Black Sheep will turn into a ‘nightclub’ for the local youngin’s and sometimes a singer/songwriter can be heard from the inside of Hackett’s.