Whenever I’m back in Ireland, my body feels lighter, my step is springier. I’m energised. My life seems easier, more balanced. I feel at home.
Within this cornucopia of good things, two particularly improved my well-being.
The first was the welcome we received from Mary and Tomas, who were introducing us to participatory research. Céad míle fáilte – a hundred thousand welcomes – says the Irish Tourist Board. With Mary and Tomas, it was closer to céad milliún fáilte.
I pride myself on being pretty good at welcoming people, especially in my surgery where I offer a smile and a handshake as people come in to see me, and another handshake as they leave. But it turns out I’m just a novice, and there is so much more to making people feel fully welcome: lots and lots of friendly visual contact, hugs (sometimes) as well as handshakes, sharing (and remembering) names, physical comfort and refreshment - and the huge importance of chatting.
I’ve just worked out that welcoming is 75% of wellbecoming!
So, while we munched our Danish pastries, we imagined the light reflecting off the waters of Loch Corrib to the east, and the sun setting behind the full extent of the Maumturk range, as it rolled away westwards in front of us.