My Hometown Top Travel

Portlaoise, a friendly Irish town that almost feels like home

A car filled with flowers sits in the center of a roundabout in Portlaoise, Ireland. It was part of a local effort to inform residents about parking rules. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

Portlaoise, IRELAND – Portlaoise is the name of my hometown. It is located right in the center of Ireland.

I lived in Slovakia until the age of 6. Moving to Ireland was really difficult, but it is the best decision my family has ever made.

The author’s book collection. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

Ireland opened up so many opportunities and future career paths for me. It has been truly life-changing.

My family and I have lived on Portlaoise for six years now. I love it here. It’s a charming little town full of kind and wonderful people.

My favorite place in the town is actually our local library because I am a huge bookworm. I spend a lot of my time there either attending a book club or just looking around for a new book to read.

I also really love going to the local farmers market right in the town square. You can buy different goods such as pastries, cheese, jam, cakes, etc. The people who sell there are incredibly humble and kind and will most likely give you their goods for free, even though you are a complete stranger to them.

The farmer’s market in Portlaoise, Ireland. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

That’s the main reason I love it here. It’s the people. The warm, kind, funny and generous people.

I’ll be walking my Maltese dog Spot, and at least three people will stop me to let me know how cute he is, or how much he reminds them of their dog who died. It’s such a heart-warming and overwhelming feeling to see such levels of generosity and I have literally endless examples of this.

A couple strolls in the center of town. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

Shopkeepers you do not know will randomly begin an entire conversation with you. A stranger on the street walks past you and asks you about the weather or compliments you. It’s such a simple thing but it’s so hard to find.

A signpost points the way to local streets. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

My family and I have seen almost all of Europe and every time we go on vacation, no matter where we go, it’s so devastating when you say hello to someone and they walk away. Or even when you say good morning to a shopkeeper and they stare at you from head to toe and roll their eyes.

When we come back, however, it’s so refreshing to see how nice people can actually be. I’ve taken Spot on walks and seen the same old lady there every day with her groceries and we’d always have the exact same conversation because she forgot we had ever met.

But the smile she had on her face when talking to me was priceless. It was unforgettably sweet. And that’s why I love it here.

A poster promoting Portlaoise. (Viktoria Jurickova/YJI)

Though I really enjoy living here, I don’t feel quite at home. It’s a great town, but it just doesn’t feel like home to me.

I want to live in Verona, Italy one day, studying English Literature and finding out more about the work of world-renowned writers like Jane Austen, Herman Melville and of course William Shakespeare.

But until then I’ll get to live in the comforting town of Portlaoise, searching for a place that feels like home.

Viktoria Jurickova is a Junior Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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