Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Forced to travel

Travelling is one of the greatest experiences in the world: the colours, smells, touch and sound of foreign lands is thrilling and invigorating, socialising with the locals is curious and exciting and the memories are unforgettable.
But for some people these things are scary, unnecessary and upsetting.
Last week I had to go through something that I suppose was inevitable in Ireland's current climate: I had to say goodbye to my best friend as she set off to find work abroad.
Many of my friends, old school/ college friends, neighbours and acquaintances have had to emigrate to find work, but up until this week my close circle of friends had stayed intact.
As she excitedly spoke about her travel plans, where she would live, who she knows living close by and the popular attractions in their new world, the rest of us that must stay behind could only smile through our tears.
She was made redundant from her job late last year, one of the hardest workers I know she threw herself into applying for jobs, going on interviews and doing everything she could to find a job, but it was not to be. After spending time in Australia a few years ago and knowing a lot of people over there it became the best option and really only option for her.
As the months wore on, she became more excited about leaving and more bitter about her own country,in the end she was only too happy to wave goodbye to this Emerald Isle.
Although it will never be the same again, we will not see her (aside from on skype, facebook photos ...) , know her feelings, opinions and hear her laughter regularly, we know she really wanted to go.
How difficult must it be to wave goodbye to someone who really doesn't want to go?
How heartbreaking to lose the grasp of a friend, a sibling, a cousin ... who would do anything to stay here but can't?
A lot of people can answer those questions because according to the news it is happening every week.
During the boom years many of us left to travel the world and experience different cultures, now that prospect is being forced upon us, like it or not.
We can only hope that these bright young sparks will live, learn and love their new homes and in a few years bring their enthusiasm and talent back to this recovering island.
Until that time we must calculate the time difference of 10 or 12 hours to try and talk and see the people we love in foreign lands all over the world.

Travel can be exciting, but it can also be very sad.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A little bit of Hollywood at home

The Stlye Icons Museum at Newbridge Silverware, Co Kildare was exactly the glamour I was looking for.
Upstairs in the Newbridge Jewelery showroom you can glare at the dresses, photos and memorabilia of Audrey Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe and Grace Kelly while also take interest in Michael Jackson's famous glove and clothes, Michael Flately's colourful and jewel encrusted dancing costumes and a wardrobe of Beatles stage suits amongst others.
Well designed, great info, headphones to listen to stories and sparkling glamour accompany your journey around the museum. Amusingly they have Tipi Hedren 's costume from the scary as hell Hitchcok's The Birds (you can even see drops of blood and tears on the unforgettable green two piece).
You could spend at least an hour upstairs (I would advise to leave your male companion at home) before you even wander downstairs to ogle at the beautiful jewelery, silverware and ornaments. I especially enjoyed the antiques collection when I visited last month.
What is the best thing about the museum and showroom at Newbridge? It is entirely free. Hollywood in Ireland for free – it is simply fabulous!
Downstairs I would recommend spending a few Euro in the cafe or indeed indulging in some pieces of silver to remember your visit. I am again delighted to mention that when I visited I felt no obligation to purchase anything, the sales people were friendly and delightful but never over achieving.
Newbridge itself is quite an up and coming town with shops and boutiques galore. With Mother's Day fast approaching this would make an ideal day away with mum, sister or the girls, but probably not the boys as are sure to ruin the fantasy Newbridge have worked so hard to achieve.

I stayed at the Westgrove Hotel, Clane when I visited Newbridge Jewelery. It is a wonderfully spacious hotel with large comfortable and modern rooms, a delightful spa and a nice pool.
I also dined here and really enjoyed the funky restaurant, while the food was certainly tasty and creative.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Celebrating 'Irishness' on March 17

St Patrick's Day for me is one of the most ironic days of the year.
The day of full on Irishness, where listening to Diddly Eye music becomes the cool, drinking Guinness a must and a full suit of green totally acceptable- is the best day of the year NOT to be in Ireland!
You actually have not truly celebrated this island's patron saint in style if you have not done so in a foreign country. Even leaving the country to celebrate the day (weekend/ week) is not quite enough I estimate that you need to be about three months out of this Emerald Isle to truly appreciate and therefore enjoy March 17 in full.
This year Paddy's Day falls on a Saturday (2012) so we have the next day off and the one after that too (we need it - recession and all) and because of the weekend date it means all around the world we can party together (aside from some time challenges!)
When in Ireland, being Irish is so ... well ... common, right now even a little sad, but on foreign soil being Irish is well the most darn important thing in the world (even if the natives are truly sick of you and your kind!)
I am sure emigration has touched about everyone at this stage, a brothers, a sister, a best friend, cousin and it is terrible, horrible to watch them have to leave, heart breaking not to know when they will return, if they get a job, settle down, like it there ... but on the major plus side they get to celebrate St Patrick's Day in real Irish abroad style.

While we sup our pints and watch the parade, they will be flying high, dancing a jig, singing a song, flying a flag and really meaning it.
GAA jerseys from every county will combine and chat and drink and be merry, it doesn't matter if they know each other, if they will never see each other again, because for just one day, March 17 Irish people all over the world will unite.
On St Patrick's Day Irishness isn't a stamp on the front of your passport, it isn't a green white and gold flag, it isn't even an accent or a story, it is a state of mind, a piece of your heart and large proportion of your soul.
I believe St Patrick's Day was invented for Irish emigrants, because no matter how much they despise this country that has made them leave their homes, on March 17 they will only recall fond memories, funny antidotes and hazy pictures.
We can only hope that those left behind can do the same.
To the Irish at home and abroad – Happy St Patrick's Day!

High cross at the Rock of Cashel, co Tipperary
(C) fifiheavey