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My Schengen



An American at the Irish border


Between June of 2001 and May of 2011, I passed through Irish border control at Dublin Airport 8 times. While crossing a border is always a privilege, seven of those crossings were illicit and I was always at risk of being denied entry.

I lived in the country for most of those years.

All of the evidence of my movement in and out of Ireland was in my passport. But it was all stamped in there with no orderliness, mostly by border controllers charged with protecting travel amongst Schengen countries and other (UK and ROI) countries within the European Economic Community — so it would have been difficult to decipher where I had been, even if anybody had wanted to.

And nobody ever wanted to. The only time I got any scrutiny was when I traveled from the Netherlands with an infection in the side of my eye that made it look like I'd been in a fight.

Every time that I returned to Ireland and approached the immigration control booth I followed a pattern of exquisite minimalism:

"Business or Pleasure?"

"Pleasure."

"How long will you be here?"

"Two weeks."

No hesitation. Nothing complicated; no explanation, nothing extra.

In May of 2011, I was leaving Ireland to return to the U.S. and my flight was delayed by one day. Returning to border control with the unstamped passport that I'd had replaced while in the State, I said too much....

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