Knockree Hostel in the Wicklow Mountains was the first place that made me fall in love with Ireland. It was also the first hostel I stayed it. Not only that, but it was also the first hostel ever that I worked in. Throwback to March 2015, where it all begun at Knockree Hostel.
I could not have been more excited. Knockree Hostel was my first station to stay and work in during my six-month work-and-travel through Ireland, Northern Ireland and Scotland. And I could not wish for a better start. From the very first moment I arrived at the hostel, I fell in love with its surroundings. The soft hills, the old trees, the small river – I loved everything.
The staff was welcoming and friendly and made it easy for me to feel as a part of the An Óige group. I shared my room with my best friend Teresa, who was travelling with me, and Caytie, another workawayer (that’s where we got the job from) from the States. We were five volunteering helpers at that time, there were Peter and Doug from Florida, too. Together our daily routine was getting up in the morning to clean the rooms. It was always super fun because with the five of us we managed all the rooms quick with a great teamwork. I remember the guys singing all the time which made us laugh a lot. Cleaning the rooms was always like a big adventurous treasure hunt – we never knew what we would find in there. My funniest memory was finding a bottle of milk in the shower and my worst experience was entering a room that was so dusty and dirty after the teenagers left, that we could barely see the floor. One of them left his name and mobile phone number on a piece of paper – he must have felt tough and cool.
The special thing about Knockree Hostel for me was that it was often booked by large groups. I must admit, teenage groups could be a bit annoying because of their noise sometimes but having a choir in for a weekend was absolutely amazing. The most interesting group was in when I arrived. It was a rescue group with people from all over the world who were practising mountain rescue. Watching them was always super exciting! But my time was of course not only about working. Most of my free-time I spent strolling through the mountains and the beautiful paths along the river, climbing over the moss-covered stones. Especially after rainy days with the fog everywhere that area has a mystical atmosphere! I was lucky to work there while seasons changed from winter to spring. I never experienced the slowly awakening of spring that beautiful! All the different shades of brown turned into lovely shades of green and yellow flowers were everywhere! I never really liked walking through the nature (not the best preconditions when you go to Ireland :-D) but Knockree made me love it! I’ve been there exactly four years ago and I wish I could just beam me there in this moment!
But the greatest memories I made at night. Watching movies with the Americans, playing board games, drinking beer and wine with the staff and having late night talks about everything under the sun – I really do miss this a lot! Knockree Hostel is located far away from urbanisation in the middle of the Wicklow Mountains – it is totally dark at night without any street lights disturbing the night. How scared was I first when I had to walk home all the way from the nearest bus station after a day out in Dublin and how did I love it in the end, no cars, no lights, just the night sky and me. Watching the stars was my favourite thing to do, even better when we did bonfires all together, the staff and volunteers.
Coming to Knockree Hostel and working there was one of the best decisions I made. Not only marks it the beginning of a life changing adventure in Ireland, but also is it still one of my favourite places on “my“ green island, that became a part of me and a second home, where I first found friends from all over the world. Or to say it in Peter’s and Doug’s words: That (Knockree) was really a win for us!