Two years ago…….

Two years ago…….

As the title suggests this post is about two years ago, the day I decided to start writing this blog. So much has happened in that 2 years and I am not going to try condense it all into one post but will settle for a few highlights, a few sad times and a few happy times. When i started this blog my goal was to make it a kind of diary of my thoughts as I embarked on a brand new chapter of my life, the journey it took to get here, but mostly it was to be about this Irishman’s view on how life is here in America for a new but older immigrant, not sure if I have hit these marks but I hope so.

And so onto the things that have made the last 2 years so interesting and a couple of highlights. The main highlight actually happened before this blog started and that was marrying my sweetheart, Leanne and that shall remain the main highlight till the day I die. But there have been lots of other highlights and I will list just a few and in no order of importance;

  • Our first wedding anniversary spent in Rome
  • Spending Christmas in Ireland in 2016
  • Robert coming over twice but the trip in summer 2016 for 6 weeks was memorable
  • Starting my present job and looking forward to see where it takes me
  • Getting to know so many wonderful people here in the USA that I am now lucky to call friends
  • Everyday I get to spend with Leanne
  • You never know how much a simple message from pals back home will make you smile
  • Buying ‘Our house’ together

Of course through the course of a life there are moments that cause sadness, and we had 2 main ones over the last 2 years. the first was Leanne’s grandmother passed away and that meant I made my first trip up to Michigan but unfortunately it wasn’t for a happy occasion. The second sad moment was the passing of my own Dad, and not being able to travel home for the funeral was probably the hardest decision I had to make in my life but I know it was the correct one at the time considering the circumstances. Its not just family members we have lost, and it started the day I arrived here back in Nov 2015, when our first thing to do together in Atlanta was to attend a funeral. Since then I think we have attended 6 funerals and I have heard of at least the same amount back home. A few close friends in Ireland have passed away, only recently a friend from my childhood passed away just short of his 50th birthday which is later this month, RIP Barry.

Nearly all of the happier times have been spent with Leanne and I loved our time spent back in Ireland, surrounded by our friends in a pub celebrating Christmas in 2016. My 50th birthday was a wonderful week last summer, culminating in a party that was fantastic. I now finally have a table for a model train set and I will be taking my time building it exactly as I want it. Connecting with the Irish community and being able to chat to people about back home is fantastic and we are getting more involved in the Irish community here in Atlanta, its surprising who you meet once you get involved! I have met someone from the Irish Defence Forces, who served in the same unit I started my career in, I have also met a guy who is from an area in Dublin which is literally only 5 minutes from where I used to live! All these connections help me keep in touch with home and my ‘irishness’

As a relatively recent immigrant to the USA I have noticed how much things here have polarized since the election last year but that still doesn’t take away that America is a land of opportunity and if you are willing to learn and evolve you will do OK. My accent still causes some issues but not half as many as it did when i came here first. Does that mean I am losing my accent, I doubt it but I have definitely tailored the speed of my speech so people can understand me better.

As we roll into 2018, cant believe it February already, there are a few upcoming adventures to add to my journey and the most important of them should and hopefully will happen around May, we will become official licensed foster parents! Scary as it that is for me there is no person in the world I would take this journey with other than Leanne.

I am going to mark the second anniversary of the blog sitting at my desk in work on a Saturday morning at 7.00am, a far cry from when I started the blog as something to pass the time during the day while I was waiting on paperwork to come through so I could get a job. I will endeavor to get the blog back on track and get it to a place where it becomes all the things I wanted it to be when I started it. I look forward to travelling home to Ireland sometime in the future but for now I am happy with how life is going here in the USA and from day one I said I would embrace my new life here but keep my ‘irishness’ intact and I think I have succeeded.

Happy Birthday St Pats to Spartans Blog

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Welcome to 2018

Welcome to 2018

Its been a little over 4 weeks since I last posted on the blog. Well it was the Christmas holidays and new year so a break from online stuff is good. My mam and son came over from Ireland and we had a good time together even if we had an event that the least said about it the better but it involved a ladder and a trip to A&E.

So what has been happening here in the USA for this Irishman, well lets go back to Oct when i started a new job as a lead concierge for Concierge Services of Atlanta. I started my training and a couple of weeks later I interviewed for a position as lead concierge in a new development in Midtown Atlanta and was successful. So here I am now , working in ICON Midtown and wearing a suit, shirt and tie into work everyday but at least I am indoors now and I get to wear decent and colorful socks.

As we enter 2018, well we are nearly in February, our lives are really about to change. We are still going through the foster/adoption process but we are hopeful by May we will have a little child to look after, and with a huge bit of luck the wait for our forever child wont be to long. We are looking forward to being parents, even if it does scare the hell out of me, and together we are a strong team.

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Its been 13 months since I have been home to Ireland and I miss home and friends but we are now involved a lot more in the Irish community, we are now helping out with the planning and running of this years Irish Fest Atlanta, I have been in touch with Irish Network Atlanta and have contacts within Atlanta GAA. All these things help keep me in touch with Irish people and its good to chat to some of them about things only us Irish understand about being ‘Irish’ and at a pace of speech only we get!

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Hopefully now with a bit more desk time I will be able to post more regularly on the blog….and trust me there is lots i would love to post here but wont and there is stuff coming up that I will post here as we move onto the next stage of our immigration process and foster/adopt process.

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2 Wonderful Years

2 Wonderful Years

Today is our second wedding anniversary and the journey we embarked on then has gone from strength to strength. I am a wear my heart on my sleeve guy and I don’t care what some people think, I am married to my best friend and I will gladly tell the world daily!

So 2 years ago on this day Atlanta treated us to a lovely warm sunny day for our wedding day, well today its giving us wet grey weather, just like Ireland. As we got ready for the wedding we had a few nights of celebrating with friends and family from out of and in town so its a bit fitting that today on our anniversary my Mam and son are both crossing the Atlantic to spend Christmas with us.

It will be my Mams first visit to see me in the USA and I am looking forward to seeing her, its been a year since we last seen each other. My Mam couldn’t come over for the wedding 2 years ago as she was looking after my Dad who was in a nursing home at the time. After my Dad passed away I never thought my Mam would travel over here so it was a lovely surprise in April when she told us she had renewed her passport and would love to come see us. Full planning mode was turned on and with Robert also expressing that he would rather come for Christmas we had a plan quite quickly, they could travel together!

And so on our second wedding anniversary instead of a lovely romantic evening with my beautiful wife, we will be collecting my Mam and son from Atlanta airport at 9pm, sorry honey but I promise I will make it up to you.

The blog posts are becoming fewer and fewer but I will try keep it going. But it will change direction once again as I become more settled into life here in Atlanta. The last 2 years have been a glorious time and I couldn’t be happier. We have traveled , we have wined and dined, we have become closer as a couple, our journey is about to embark on one of lives great gifts and we are madly in love.

I will sign off by wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah or whatever phrase you want to use, just be happy, be nice and kind and everything else will fall into place. Enjoy the season and be safe.

Nollaig Shona agus Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh

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.

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