Life goes on

Life goes on

It’s been a while since I popped in here to share some things and boy what 6/7 weeks it has been. I reached a milestone of living in the USA 2 years on November 5th this year, had a weekend away in Nashville, (adding another city to my list), got a new job, met the Irish Consul General here in Atlanta, met the Irish Ambassador to the USA, have linked up more with the Irish community here in Atlanta, got back into taking photographs, had a blast at Irish Fest and have completed phase one of courses to become a foster parent with Leanne.

So where to start, I suppose getting a new job is as a good pace as any. I enjoyed my job with Hennessy Ford but there was something I wasn’t to keen on, and it boiled down to a lack of respect and trust. In conversations with the GM we had spoken about a future there for me as the Auto Photographer. So, it came as a surprise to me when the present photographers contract was cancelled, and another photographer arrived, especially as I had just had a conversation with GM a couple of weeks previous. The writing was on the wall from that day on, and then a job I knew I would be good at popped up on my Facebook feed. Talk about fate, well I applied and 2 interviews later I was hired. My new role is as Lead Concierge with Concierge Services of Atlanta working in the new ICON Midtown building.

Before I left Hennessy, I had the opportunity to meet the Irish Consul General who just happened to pick there to buy a car. And a fortuitous meeting it turned out to be, because he took my number and a few weeks later he gave me the opportunity to meet the Irish Ambassador to the USA on his visit to Atlanta. This tied in with a weekend of Irish events culminating in the Ambassadors address in Emory University, but which also included Irish Fest and the Atlanta GAA having a handover of land for playing fields and pitches. Meeting and being around Irish people here in Atlanta was fun and I will be trying to link in with the Irish community here a lot more from here on in.

On a personal level one November is like anniversary month, I have 3 important ones and they are all linked, because without one or the other, another one may never have happened. Let’s go back 30 years from today (Nov 20th) and its 1987 and I am a young 20-year guy who is about to embark on a new career, I enlisted in the Irish Defence Forces and this gave me the opportunity to travel the world as a photographer but also as a member of the Air Corps Pipe Band. Fast forward to 2001 and I am in Savannah with the band and I meet a lovely girl who would become a great friend with a special attachment. The next important date was Nov 9th, the day my divorce in Ireland became final and destiny was now waiting for me around the corner, even though I didn’t know it then.

The lovely girl I had met in Savannah in 2001 was a great friend, we remained in touch without the social media presence that exists today, shrinking the Atlantic Ocean to an inconvenience. But as time moved on destiny made her move, Leanne (that lovely girl) and I had a chat and we made plans to see what we would do about the inconvenient ocean, or pond as we called it. I visited in early 2015, Leanne came to Ireland in Summer 2015 and our visa application was approved around the same time and that led plans for the final important date, Nov 5th.

And so it was on Nov 5th 2015, I packed my life into 2 suitcases, a camera bag and a dog crate for Lassie and moved to the USA and start my journey through life with my best friend, my soulmate and who in December 20th 2015 became my wife. The last 2 years has been a journey of discovery, finding myself in a new country, trying new things, talking slower, getting to know my way around, finding my feet in life but with Leanne’s support and the rest of the support network from family and friends I feel I am settled. There are still things I won’t do like order at a drive through because I have no idea what I will end up getting in my order but mostly I manage. I have mentioned I have linked up with the Irish community recently and I look forward to meeting up with them on a regular basis, just a little touch of home to hear all those Irish accents.

Now if you are still reading and paid attention to the last remark in the first paragraph (go on scroll back) I mentioned something very important. Leanne and I are in the process of becoming foster parents with the view to becoming adoptive parents soon. This is something we have talked about a lot from early in our serious relationship and even though it is a bit scary, sure haven’t I already moved continent, so we go into this fully aware it will change our lives, again.

So that is coming to us in the future, hopefully quite soon and we can start to grow as a family. Talking about family in 4 short weeks my son, Robert, and my Mam will make the trip across the pond to be with us for Christmas and we are looking forward to their visit. It will be Roberts second visit, but it will be my Mams first trip outside Ireland since my Dad passed away in July 2016.

Oh, I nearly forgot, I did mention we had a weekend away in Nashville a few weeks ago and it was all about going on a full day railway excursion and it was fun. My love of trains goes back to my early childhood and now I am also building a large model railway in our new basement. We had a great time in Nashville and even though it was railway themed weekend we did get to sample a lot of the live music that Nashville has to offer. My list of cities visited is continuing to grow and I look forward to our next visit to a new city.

It’s time to sign off now and I hope this brings everyone up to date on what has being going on in the life of this Irishman in Atlanta.

I have a new motto in life now……. Don’t be afraid of change, don’t be afraid to take a educated chance, live life to the fullest and most of all, smile and be happy.

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Social Media

Social Media

Where would we all be without social media? Is it better to have some or none? Each individual can only answer those questions for themselves but I will try answer them in the context of the journey I have taken over the last number of years.

I met my wife in 2001, email was just about kicking off, mobile phones were still new and FB, Twitter and Instagram etc were just pipe dreams for their makers. But we managed to stay in touch across the ocean the old fashioned way, a card here, a call there and as our lives evolved we realized we were nearing a conversation about our future.

In 2008 we had become FB friends and this allowed us to become more connected to each other, this followed with chats on Google Hangouts, even though Google wouldn’t really take off till 2014 for us, it actually became our defacto way of messaging each other. We both use FB, probably a bit to much, but it allows us to keep in contact with friends on both sides of the Atlantic and throughout the USA and world.

Now as usual I started off wanting to do one thing with this post and just started rambling. The whole idea of this post was to actually point out that StPatstoSpartans is available on FB, Twitter and Instagram. I use these 3 forums more than I post on the blog, so please feel free to add me on each forum. The Instagram account is quite new as I didn’t want my everyday life photos going on my A Man With His Camera page.

Instagram username is stpatstospartans

Twitter username is patstospartans

Facebook is St Pats to Spartans

Please drop by and say hello and add a like and follow.

New York, a first time visitor

New York, a first time visitor

Last weekend I got to go to New York with my darling wife. The trip was planned as a gift for my 50th birthday and I had a choice of destination but New York was really my only choice as it is a city I have wanted to visit my whole life.

And guess what, New York didn’t disappoint. What a city, crowded, tons of neon, lots of places to visit, things to do, food and drink to sample and only 4 days to try pack as much in as possible. We had some things booked, Ellis Island, Statue of Liberty and an evening at the US Open Tennis but other things we just went with how we were doing on time.

But of course we nearly never got to New York after Leanne was summoned for jury duty and was selected for a Superior Court case, but luckily on Thursday afternoon she was excused and we were able to pack and catch our flight out at noon on Friday.

Arriving in Newark Airport at 3pm and catching the train into New York meant I got to tick something off my to do list, arrive into Penn Station subway platform and walk out onto a packed New York city. The volume of people was just amazing but everyone managed to get where they were going without to much bother. We got to our hotel, The Millennium Broadway on 44th Street, just off Time Square. First thing that hit me in Time Square was the neon, even in daylight. And I knew it would be fantastic at night, and I wasn’t wrong, throngs of people and tons of neon.

New York has a strong Irish connection and this is quite visible through all the ‘Irish’ bars around Time Square. We decided to use the one right beside our hotel, O’Donoghues, and even though they didn’t serve full pints, more like half litres, it was nice and comfortable.

We went off to explore New York and get our bearings so we wouldn’t get lost to much. We went to the Rockefeller Center, St. Patrick’s Catherdal and looked for somewhere with a bit of New York flavour to it to have something to eat. We settled on Juniors after finding our first choice seemed to be everybody else’s first choice too. 

So after a ton of food, one dinner would have fed us both, we decided to head to the Empire State Building. This was one of those things we wanted to do but hadn’t really planned it. And are we so glad we did, and got the extra ticket to go to the very top. The views across the city at night were absolutely amazing. 

And like any good Irishman, the night was wrapped up with a beer in our new Irish bar beside the hotel. Sat was going to be a busy day as we had 9.30am tickets to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island tour as well as dinner plans. Probably the main thing I wanted to see in New York was Ellis Island. As a recent immigrant to the USA, I do feel a certain affinity to those who came here before me. Their journey was a lot more precarious than mine, filled with more unknowns and much harder. But the affinity I felt has only grown after visiting Ellis Island. It’s immigrants that have helped make America the nation it is today, but unfortunately that seems to be forgotten by some.

After our tours, we done more walking, around Chinatown and through an area that was filled with lots of state and city buildings. So it was time to catch the train back to Time Square and the hotel. We managed to get on the wrong train, twice. But it meant we got to cross the river and head into Brooklyn. This wasn on our plan but it was fun. We now know we must come back to New York and see even more.

Anyway, the world really is a small place and I have friends in New York that I went to college with back in Ireland. So we arranged to meet up and have dinner and a catch up. So sitting in an Italian restaurant in Little Italy in New York were 3 graduates of Ballyfermot College, Dublin and an American from Atlanta via Michigan. 

Sunday was 9/11 Memorial and US Open tennis day. The 9/11 museum and memorial is a ‘must see’ but it is also something you have to give time to. We were there 4 hours and probably could have stayed another hour or 2. It’s definitely a ‘wow’ museum as well a very sombre place. The artifects and the stories touch your heart and soul.

And finally we have have last thing to do, US Open tennis. This was a ‘bucket list’ item for my wife but I have to say I enjoyed every minute of it too. We went to the Arthur Ashe Stadium but we also got courtside on one of the outer courts. It was a fun night even if the matches were over relatively quickly.

And so my first visit to New York was over, seen lots but lots more to see, so we will definitely be making a return trip in the future.

Thank you to my darling wife for the wonderful gift of a trip to a city I had never been to and thoroughly enjoyed. Till next time New York, Slán. 

And I am back

And I am back

So after a month away from posting here on my blog I am back. So much has happened I think I have to make time to post. This blog serves numerous purposes; sharing my life with friends back home in Ireland, with friends here in the USA and further afield, being a diary for myself to look back on and just charting my life here in the USA.

What has been happening these last 4 weeks? Well I had my 50th birthday at the end of July and a great social gathering at our new house, surrounded by friends, to celebrate my milestone birthday. One of my gifts was a table, well the process of building a table, for my new model railway layout. This has always been a dream for me to have room to do an expanded layout, not just 6×4, and now we have that room in our new basement.

New Model Train

As we entered August, Myself and Leanne put something we had talked about for the last few months and years into motion. We started the process of Foster to Adopt a child. We can’t have children of our own and we both want to give some child a new start or at least a helpful lift up in life. Does it scare me, yes but I have the support of my wife and we will work together to make it work. And the agencies have picked to work with do wonderful training and are always on hand to help. 

In my own work life I am still trying to settle on a career. I love my job here at Hennessy Ford in Atlanta but has it got enough career options for my own personal growth. Well just as I start to look around at options, my boss here comes up with a plan for me and a substantial pay rise. So I think I will bide my time here and see what the rest of 2017 and early 2018 has to bring. 

Amd lastly, the main gift for my 50th birthday was a 4 day trip to New York for Labor Day weekend, this weekend. New York has always been a place I wanted to visit but never got the chance. I will have lots more on our pre trip hassles and hopefully our actual trip in a couple of later posts this week and weekend. 

It’s good to be back and I hope people share this blog and keep reading as I think I have found a way to refocus and keep posting. 
Slán agus beannacht

Small Observations

Small Observations

As I am here now just over 19 months, there are a few things I haven’t seen before but they are getting less and less.

But today I got to see something I had never seen before, a prison chain gang, ok its now called a Prison Inmate Work Detail, but when you strip away the political correctness, it is what it is, a chain gang without the chains.

The funny thing is, seeing this today as I drove in Gwinnett County just outside Atlanta, I suddenly noticed another on the side of the road and then a big orange bus with Prison Inmate Work Detail written on the side of it passed me by. So the chain gang sighting was like waiting on a bus back home, you don’t see one for ages, then 3 come along together.

Not sure how many other counties in Georgia do this or even states across America but it does strike me as a good idea. Having inmates help to supplement the county workforce, keep motorways tidy, help cut grass etc. Of course the PC brigade back home would be up in arms if this was to be even suggested in Ireland.

50!

50!

And so I am now 50. I have been through all sorts so far in my life and I try to be nice, polite and friendly. I also live by a motto, growing old is mandatory, growing up is voluntary and recently I have added that growing old is a privilege denied to many so enjoy life while you have it. 

So as my 50th birthday has arrived I intend to continue to live by my motto and try to be a nice and friendly person. I have a good life, a great wife, great friends and a family not only back home in Ireland but also here in the USA. 

I will end by wishing myself a Happy Birthday and look forward to the next whatever years I have left, hopefully another 50. 

My Dad RIP

My Dad RIP

This past week I have been sharing memories of my life as I approach my 50th birthday this weekend. Today I will share some memories of my Dad, who passed away on July 21st 2016, a year ago today. 

July 21st 2016 and we are driving to Michigan for a weeks vacation with Leanne’s parents. We were up at 4am, dogs in back of car keeping Robert company and we were making good time. At approx 8am I got a call from my sister to tell me my Dad had taken a downward turn and we were in the last few days of his life and she would keep me up to date. Less than an hour later I got the call I was dreading but knew was coming, my Dad had passed away, with my Mam, sister and brother with him. I was lucky that Leanne and Robert were with me and it helped enormously to be with them at that time.

But let’s go back a good few years. My Dad was the the one that drove us to everything, football, scout trips, vacations and family day outs. My Mam didn’t start driving till we were teenagers so my memories are of us all being piled into the car, bags on the roof rack and me standing behind my dad, helping to navigate. 

Of course there were times when we bent the rules on the roads, cramming a bunch of scouts and bags in car was definitely one of them, a driver’s the car at the time was just a VW Beetle. 

Rather than me ramble about things we remember about my Dad I am going to borrow the Eulogy my sister, Anna, wrote for the funeral……

Bright Eyes and One Front Tooth

Bright Blue Eyes,

One Front Tooth,

Warm Heart,

Kind Hands,

Dark, dark hair that turned to white.

A man who put his family at the heart of his world.  And we knew it, no doubt.

A man who was more ethical than ethics required.

A man who let us watch Westerns but told us that the Indians were not the bad guys and to not always believe what we saw in the movies or read in a book.  Life was more complicated than that.

A man who showed is that integrity was to do the right thing, not so others could see, but because it would be the right thing to do.

Gur Cake, Madeira,

Knickerbocker Glories on First Holy Communion Days.

Taxi-ing to rugby, football, scouts, ballet.

Working up from a green dilapidated Volkswagen Beetle to a car with sun-roofs, not one but two.

Full of boldness and giddiness,

Sneaking a Big-Mac into hospital ‘coz he knows you won’t survive on toast and tea,

Getting ice-cream for you for breakfast ‘coz sure you’re on your holidays,

Building stone houses on the beach ‘coz sure they cost you nothing but time and love,

Fitting in a sneaky water fight while pretending to be taking the job of washing up after dinner seriously,

Snuggling under blankets with grandchildren and pretending to be asleep when Mam came in,

But then, at every major step of life, being there, listening, offering advice but never making you feel obliged to take it.

A man who like to keep to his routine but who would travel to unknown destinations, both in real life and metaphorically, with the love of his life.  Always together, in heart and in soul.

A man, understated in emotion, who showed his love thru’ his actions, steadfastness and generosity.

And though his last breath has gone,

He lives, 

In our hearts,

In our minds,

In our souls.

All that and more is the man I was lucky to call Dad and my sister done a wonderful job in putting into words everything we we thought of a wonderful man. 

Now as I get ready to celebrate my 50th birthday, today and over the weekend we will take time out to remember one of the most loyal, loving and friendly men you would ever meet, my Dad. Miss you every day Dad and I hope I am making you proud with how things have turned out. I will have a pint in your honour tonight and we will celebrate your life and the influence you had on us all. 

RIP Dad, sleep well.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam