St. Kevin’s Cell in Glendalough

When our family moved here in 2012, Elizabeth and I felt at home almost immediately. In a way, we never did even in Ithaca where we’d lived for 18 years, raised our kids and made many good friends.

When we’d share this with people we would often be asked why it was. And while there are a number of things that we could list, there was always something I couldn’t really put my finger on.

Yesterday Liz sent me an article from the Irish Times and I was only a couple paragraphs in before I said, “that’s it.”

Let me explain.

Last weekend the rugby coach for Munster, Anthony Foley, died at the age of 42. (Munster is one of four provinces in Ireland). While Elizabeth and I have followed six nations rugby since we got here, we haven’t followed the sport much beyond that. So we were not aware of this man (beyond seeing his book now and again in bookstores), and were caught off-guard at the outpouring of support for this man, who clearly impacted the lives of so many.

The article Elizabeth sent me talks about the type of leader Foley was. And as it fleshes that out, that is where I had my, “that’s it!” moment.
Here are a couple examples from the article, which says it so much better than I could:

There is a particularly Irish type of heroism.

It’s not about being a sculpted, chiselled giant. It’s not about being a show pony, a loud, media-friendly guy who’s good at talking himself up.

It’s about being solid, maybe even low-key. It’s about leading quietly, often from behind. It’s about doing what you do really well. It’s about not talking too much but about saying the right thing at the right time. It’s about every word counting.

It’s about humble leadership. It’s about leadership that doesn’t strive to be the main man, but leadership that quietly compels others to follow because they respect you.

While I could go on and list examples of “over the top/self-promoting” leaders in politics, business and (sadly) the church, I’m sure you know what I mean. And while of course there are leaders like that here to…in every field, it is the exception.

That…that is one of the things I love about being in Ireland, and why we feel so at home here.

(You can read the full article here.)