On a recent trip to Ireland, I had to opportunity to explore many small villages not unlike Saxapahaw. We drove down small winding roads, with livestock on either side, traveling through the irish countryside. I was reminded of my drive to work, down Saxapahaw Bethlehem Church Rd, passing the cows and wide open fields. As Ipull into Saxapahaw (pop. 1,648), I’m greeted by friendly faces and small town charm.
It was like this throughout Ireland as well. Upon arriving in a new town, we would explore to find a neighborhood grocery store, a welcoming pub, a lively music scene, and many small scale producers. Sound familiar? I began to appreciate the feeling of being somewhere that reminded me of home. It was comforting to recognize the patterns between small town Ireland and small town North Carolina – the humble farmers, the chatty bartenders, the lovingly prepared food. I was immediately filled with gratitude that this magical faraway place had a lot in common with this lil’ village called Saxapahaw.
The village itself is a concept that occurs frequently, but it can’t be replicated. Each tiny town is unique in its own way. Saxapahaw has its own originality, an eccentric identity found only here on the Haw River. Each place we visited had its own distinctive quirk, and it was incredible to witness the different interpretations of this concept. Saxapahaw has come from a long lineage of self-sustaining small villages, so different and yet so similar.
Trade out the falling down castles for falling down barns, and Ireland is not so different than here. But you won’t find another Saxapahaw in Ireland, that’s for sure.