HOMECOMING: Brianna Kilcullen praises "hard work ethic, communal spirit, athleticism" of Irish

OPINION: This Returnee is Proud of Ireland's Global Goals and Peacebuilding Priorities

Early June and I’m having dinner at Boston airport before my Jetblue flight to Ireland. I’m thinking of how proud my grandparents would be that I’m returning back to their home country with experiences under my belt that would not have been possible without their sacrifices.

While my family and I usually visit once a year, this past summer of over one hundred days of 100+ degree Fahrenheit weather without a drop of rain in Austin, TX, completely robbed me of my ability to think, and I am no stranger to the heat and humidity. So I made the decision to work from Ireland this summer to test the waters of what life would be like to live here.

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In addition to the climate crisis and the upcoming 2024 US presidential election, I feel I have fallen into a black hole when it comes to talking about the current predicament of the United States. In America, we now walk on eggshells when discussing the most basic of human rights.

By contrast, many Irish musicians and artists publicly boycotted this past year’s American SXSW festival. This boycott prompted Irish Minister Catherine Martin to give a speech at the Irish Embassy condemning the genocide in Gaza and showing support for Palestine.

For me, it’s refreshing to see a country stand by its values and stick up for common humanity given that Ireland knows all too well the feeling of being an underdog in the global game of human chess; a country just shy of seven million that consistently punches above its weight class in an eight billion population.

It’s these values that I associate with Ireland and with my family in County Mayo that are catching my eye and my attention more than they ever have. The hard work ethic, the communal spirit, the athleticism, the quick wit, and the intelligence are a rare combo that in my opinion, the world now needs more than ever. And, on a light note, did I mention that Irish dairy is just superior to anything else I have ever had?

All that being said, I want to be clear that Ireland is not without its faults and its own challenges. It just seems to have something that the world needs more of right now.

What excites me most about investing more time and energy in Ireland is improving my quality of life by being around a group of people that embody the way of thinking that I want to be around and raise a family in as opposed to wondering if I have spent too much time in a grocery store and could be prey to gun violence.

As I look forward to the rest of 2024 and beyond, I am excited to merge aspects of my ancestors' roots and upbringing with my own experience of growing up in the United States to pave a sustainable future for myself and for my community and generations to come. Slainte.


Brianna Kilcullen is the founder of Anact and originally from Atlantic Beach, FL. In 2019, she helped legalize hemp in Florida while launching Anact. Prior to starting Anact, she worked in the apparel industry for prAna, a subsidiary of Columbia Sportswear and Under Armour traveling to 40+ countries working in factories on almost every continent. She is a dual citizen in the US and Ireland.