Moving house! 

Moving house! 

I mentioned a week or so ago that we were all ready to move into our dream house. And so on Friday last, closing day on 2 deals, everything  went really smoothly. The night before we went to the Fox Theater to see The Bodyguard and had an excellent night even though one of the main traffic arteries in and out of Atlanta had suffered massive damage due to a fire and had collapsed but I digress and will come back to that on another day. 

So on Friday morning last, Leanne attended the sale of her/our home to a lovely couple while I done a few hours in work. At noon we headed for a bit of lunch and after that to go to the closing of our purchase. Both closings went quick and smoothly, and even though I am a not allowed on the mortgage due to residency rules I am on the title so we now are partners in our new home. 

Back to our old house and a few runs with some light boxes and the dogs so they can get to see their new home too. We done 3 runs, 6 car loads, as we knew the movers would be at the house at 9am approx on Saturday morning and it was nearly 11pm so we needed some sleep, and it was going to be our final night in the house we got married from. 

Moving day has arrived, we were up bright and early on Saturday morning, dropping the dogs off for a few hours at a neighbors house. Little did we know it would be 13 hours later before we could collect them! Again I go off track but that is exactly what our Saturday turned into, completely off track. Our movers had a management brain fart, not informing the truck to come to our house. By the tine management regained their minimal senses it was late afternoon, so movers who should have arrived at 9am, arrived at 5.45pm. And the truck still needed to be loaded, moved and unloaded. This was not going to be a fun experience but in fairness the 3 lads got stuck in, filled the truck and we supplied pizzas for them, they worked and ate, completing the move just after 11pm. 

Friends popped over to help with the move and it was great that they did cause it meant we got more car loads done while we waited on the movers. Of course the day wasn’t going to go smoothly but having friends around definitely helped it go with some laughs and fun. So onto our deliveries, or lack off maybe. We scheduled our washing machine and dryer to be delivered on Saturday as well and rang while we ate lunch on Friday to confirm. Well they had made a mistake and hadn’t got us scheduled but said it was fixed and our washer and dryer would be delivered on Saturday. Well guess what, it wasn’t fixed and they weren’t delivered on Saturday as promised and ordered. Leanne was on the phone again to them and after a few hours of calls back and forth we got a Sunday delivery with 10% refund on our total bill. 

Our other delivery was probably the one I looked forward to most, our new king size bed. We bought the bedding on Friday and with all the moving and stress I was looking forward to crashing on the big bed on Saturday night. Well it arrived, earlier than promised but it had a problem. One of the box springs is to big for the bed. But it will do till Sears get to change it soon, so on Saturday night 2 exhausted people and 2 exhausted dogs crashed out in their new house after 2 very long and 1 stressful day. 

We did have another issue, the house alarm! It just refuses to work properly and after a few hours on the phone with the company, and they can’t get it to work or figure out why it won’t work, we have decided to get a different system fitted, one more user friendly, rather than one thst needs a technological masters or something to get it to work! 

Did anything go smoothly, well a bit of a surprise was the fact that our hook up to the Internet went excellently and within minutes of the AT&T technician arriving he had the WiFi up and running and within few hours he had our TV all connected and even gave us new wireless boxes, remote controls and HDMI cables. 

I will wrap up now but just a couple more things, a big sincere thank you to all our friends who helped, sent messages and have offered support, not only since we started the process of moving but since we first mentioned our plans of a life together, it is very much appreciated. 

To my beautiful darling wife, you handled the weekend tremendously, stress and all. You worked the phones, moved boxes and got our new home looking great already. I love you and look forward to many happy years in our new family home. 

And the final mention of today goes to a pal who is no longer with us, Peter Ryan, who passed away at the age of 33 ten years ago. He was a friend, a football fan and one of the nicest, most mischievous blokes you could meet. Tonight we will go to our new local bar and have a pint of Guinness in Peter’s memory. 

Another major chapter about to start

Another major chapter about to start

And so today we received the message we have been waiting on for a few weeks, we are clear to close on the sale of our house and also the purchase of our new home. It has been a bit stressful but we are nearly there and on Friday we will sell one house and purchase our dream home together. 

Moving from this house will be tinged with some sadness

The house we are selling, and I use the word ‘we’ quite deliberately, is the house Leanne has called home for 14 years and I have called home since I arrived here in 2015. It will be a move tinged with sadness and a lot of love as it was the house we made our beginning. But it will also have a lot of happiness as we are moving into ‘our’ new home, something that we choose and picked together. This too will have a lot of love and happiness as it will allow us to grow our family together. 

Our new ‘together and family’ home

So on Friday, March 31st, one chapter will close with the sale of Northlake Springs Court but a whole new and exciting chapter will begin with the purchase of Willow Chase Court. We have fantastic neighbors where we are, and as we are only moving a few miles we will remain in touch and friends. Sure I will be dropping over most Sundays to meet the lads for football and Leanne will be over regularly to to meet up with the ladies for dinner. 

And as one chapter closes and another starts,  my journey in the USA just continues to grow and I couldn’t be happier. I moved here with 2 suitcases and a dog, it will take a 24ft truck and some help to move house. 

Slán for now

St Patrick’s Day 2017

St Patrick’s Day 2017

So tomorrow is St Patrick’s Day and as I will be working till the afternoon the celebrations back in Ireland will be nearly over by the time I get to have a few beers and celebrate our national day. 

It’s funny though, I have been living g in the USA now for 16 months, and this will be my second St Patrick’s Day as a resident in the USA and I still haven’t gone to a St Patrick’s Day parade. Before I moved here I had attended and taken part in a good few parades over the years since my first one in Newport, RI back in 2000. I have taken part in parades in Worcester, South Boston, Savannah, Tybee Island, and Newport. I was in the Savannah, Worcester and Newport parades twice. 

Tomorrow is a day to celebrate being Irish, or being of Irish heritage. I am proud to be Irish, it definitely defines who I am and how I handle things. Being from Ireland and now living in Atlanta is a huge change, it’s not like Boston, New York or Chicago where there arw huge Irish communities. The Atlanta Irish community is quite small in comparison but us Irish always find one another. My next door neighbor is from Kildare and one day in the local supermarket a guy from Dundalk said Hi as he recognized my St Patrick’s Athletic jersey. 

I am looking forward to heading into MacMcGees in Decatur after work tomorrow with Leanne and celebrating everything about Ireland and home. 

Be safe, have fun and Happy St Patrick’s Day. 

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit

Onwards and Upwards…… with a little sideways shift 

Onwards and Upwards…… with a little sideways shift 

Before I start, the last 2 weeks have been the most challenging and tiring I have encountered in a long time. I have learned to handle stress and disappointment and here I am back in Atlanta after missing out on advancing in my training to be an auto damage adjuster by just a few percentage points. But it wasn’t to be and now it’s time to dust myself off and get back to doing something I did enjoy, working with Hennessy Ford. 

Don’t get me wrong, the 2 weeks down at the Auto Damage Adjusting school in Macon were fantastic, the staff excellent and my classmates a pleasure to meet and study with. But it was just to much info in such a short space of time. And if this is the only disappointment I encounter for another few years I will be in a good spot. 

So a small sideways move back to my old job at Hennessy and driving new cars for a living and working with another lovely bunch of people. Is this where my career is meant to be? maybe or maybe not but let’s see what the next few months bring. 

And now on another subject altogether; Ireland, Irishness and St Patrick’s Day. I have encountered and covered this topic more than once, the Irish American, American Irish question and St Patty day and I am not going to get into it again. I posted the following on a Irish Around the World FB page earlier today, and it doesn’t mention any of the above questions and even though I have covered them in this blog before, they are not life or death topics, they are light hearted subjects and if anyone takes offense, well then maybe they aren’t Irish at all 🙂 This is what I posted and it was a kind of intro to me and who I am 

 I was born and bred in Dublin, living there for 48 years of my near 50 years of life, emigrating to the USA in 2015 to marry my best friend, partner and now wife. I literally packed my whole life into 2 suitcases and a dog crate for my border collie. It was the best decision I ever made. There are times I miss home, find myself looking at all my old photos of Ireland and just searching the web for ‘Irish’ stuff. In this little jar (photo below) is my little piece of home. It contains sand from beaches in Mayo, Galway, Dublin and Wexford. Pebbles and shells come from those same beaches as well as some from the banks of the Shannon and one from my old house in Inchicore. Home is where the heart is and mine is now Decatur, outside Atlanta, Georgia but Ireland will always be the land of my birth and make up who I am. I am a proud Irishman learning to live life in America.

In saying all that, I have no issue with anyone saying they are Irish American or American Irish, but please don’t say St Patty’s Day, or I will start referring to July 4th as Wednesday (or whatever day it falls on). 

Have a great day, week and month and March is Irish Heritage Month, so be proud and make Ireland proud of its heritage, it’s emigrants and you. 

Slán agus árd mór

Billy

Life is hectic….. But fun! 

Life is hectic….. But fun! 

So where have I been for the last 3 weeks since my last post on blog. Well it has been a full and interesting 3 weeks. Let’s go back to the beginning of February when life just got a bit more full of things to do. Everyday stuff like work, walking the dogs, meeting friends etc continued. We had just watched Atlanta lose the Superbowl on heartbreaking fashion with our friends so instead of a big party it kind of just died off. 

But life goes on, sport will always give you great enjoyment, some horrible heartbreak but at the end of the day, life goes on. As an Irishman here in Atlanta I was delighted to see a city of 6 million getting behind Atlanta, now if only people back home would get behind their local team in football ot would be fantastic. But that’s a rant for a while other day. 

February consisted of 2 concerts, one theater outing and a movie night. So let’s start with concert number 1, Bon Jovi in the Philips Arena in Atlanta, well let’s just say the rockers rocked Atlanta in what was a brilliant performance. We followed that up with the Atlanta Symphony playing the tunes of my favorite artists, Simon and Garfunkel. If Bon Jovi rocked it, the Symphony absolutely nailed it with their performance and the duo singing the songs were superb. We end our month of culture tonight as we head to the Fox Theater for Phantom of the Opera. 

Why do I mention all this, well it shows how different my life is here than to back home in Ireland. I may have attended a concert every few years, but I never would have gone to the theater or symphony. These opportunities are available because I am married to a wonderful woman who loves these things and I have embraced everything from she loves and I am loving it. 

As an recent immigrant, I find that by embracing the culture that you are surrounded by certainly helps with the transition into American life. When I came here I hated ordering in restaurants as they couldn’t understand me, even though I did speak English, but now I am more comfortable even if they don’t get what I am saying for sometimes, it’s just the way it is and I am getting used to it. 

But back to the hectic life of the last 3 weeks. In January I was going through an interview process for a new job which entailed numerous tests and intercession and I made it through the selection and next Monday I will start my new job as a trainee Auto Damage Adjuster with Geico insurance. This will be a challenge involving learning a whole new skill set to add to the skills I already have. I will miss working with a great bunch of people at Hennessy Ford but the opportunity to change jobs and have a career with Geico was to good to turn down. 

And kind of finally we do have one more piece of news. The house Leanne has called home for the last 13 years and has been my home too for the last 16 months is on the market for sale as we are about to purchase our first home together. This is a huge step for both of us, Leanne leaving a home she thought she would always live in, me leaving a neighborhood that has made me so welcome and us both putting our names on the mortgage of a house together. 

So it has been hectic, it has been fun and exciting times lie ahead. It has been a journey and a half over the last 2 years and it continues to be enjoyable, some challenges and lots of laughs with huge amounts of happiness. 

Till next time, Slán agus Beannacht. 

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday

This time last year I wrote about my first Superbowl Sunday here in America. It consisted of a group of friends getting together and enjoying the game and the adverts! Yes, the adverts during the Superbowl along with the half time show can be the highlight of the Superbowl. This year though I think will be slightly different as the Atlanta Falcons have made it to only their 2nd Superbowl and it is a well deserved appearance. 

They will come up against the New England Patriots, and they are the team I followed when I lived in Ireland but my allegiances have switched to my new home town, so I will be cheering on the Falcons. 

Superbowl 51 pitches the best defence (Patriots) going up against the best offense (Falcons) so it will be an interesting game. With possibly the 2 best QB’s playing, the legendary Tom Brady v the new league MVP Matt Ryan it could be a shootout between these two. Looking forward to a exciting game and hope Falcons manage to pull it off, but won’t be overly disappointed if the Patriots win. 
It would be fantastic for Atlanta to win and the excitement has been building for last few weeks through all the play offs and now to the final game of the season. It reminds me of home and when St Pat’s made it to the cup final and the build up would start a couple of weeks before and by game day I would be a nervous wreck. 

It was hard to know how to feel when we lost a cup final and we certainly did lose a few but the camaraderie of fellow fans who were feeling the same always helped, along with a few tasty pints of Guinness. But St Pat’s finally did win the FAI Cup and I have to say it is still and probably always will be one of the highlights of watching my local team in my life, and we have won leagues and other trophies but to finally win the cup after 53 years of waiting was just a fantastic moment.  

So now it is time to get ready, put on the shirt, go to friends house, and settle down and watch the game. And may the best team win which I hope is the Atlanta Falcons. RISE UP!!! 

One year old

One year old

So tomorrow marks the one year anniversary of when St Pat’s to Spartans launched and I posted my first introductory post. And what a year it has been. There have been some great highlights, some low moments and charting my way through life here in the USA after living my whole life in Ireland until Nov 2015 has been fun. 

I have tried to keep the posts lighthearted and easy to read but at the same time using the blog as a journal of what I am thinking, doing and how life is going. I think I have succeeded for the most part but at times it’s difficult to find time to put up a good post that hits all the targets I want but I keep trying. 

I hope people have enjoyed the blog and it will continue as I move on with my life here in America. Last June I started my first job, moving onto my second job in October and at the end of February I will finally start a job that I feel can be a career. The opportunity to do this new job would never have happened in Ireland as I wouldn’t have made it passed the screening process due to not having an honors degree.  

So after a 4 week process of interviews, online assessments, practical role play assessment and a final face to face interview, I received a job offer from Geico in mid January and I start training for my new role as an Auto Damage Adjuster soon. It will be 3 months training with lots of study, a tough learning curve and a whole new career to look forward to.

I have enjoyed my time at Hennessy Ford, some excellent people work here, and it gave me another opportunity to work closely with people, which helps in the assimilation into the USA. I enjoy chatting to work colleagues, learning new things about life here, and I notice I talk a lot slower now due to these interactions. So if anyone is buying a car soon, drop into Hennessy Ford on Peachtree Industrial Blvd and say hi and they will look after you. 

I will finish up this post with a little thank you. Thank you to everyone who has read the blog, liked or shared a post, or sent me comments.  Thank you to all my friends do back home in Ireland for a wonderful visit home in December and your ongoing friendship and support, to my friends here in the USA for your friendship and support, to my family for being there for my Mam when I couldn’t, to my in laws, I would be amiss if I didn’t thank you all for the wonderful support from day 1 and my final thanks has to go to my wife, Leanne. Thank you honey for supporting me in everything I do, for being my friend, partner and wife. 

A walk down memory lane

A walk down memory lane

They say that school days are the best days of your life, well I never subscribed to that but over the last couple of weeks I have connected with past classmates of mine via FB. This got me thinking about my school days and my childhood back home in Ireland. I lived in an area called Inchicore, right beside Kilmainham Gaol, which was at the center of Irish history in 1916. 

I attended primary (elementary?) school in St Michael’s CBS, also in Inchicore and across the road from Richmond Park, the the home to St Patrick’s Athletic and McDowells pub, two places I would frequent a lot in my adult life. St Michael’s CBS was also steeped in the history of 1916 and between there and Kilmainham, it’s no wonder I have a huge interest in not only Irish history, but 1916 and the fight for Irish independence. School back then was completely different to the way it is today, teachers didn’t think twice about taking out a leather strap or hurling a duster the length of the classroom at you if you weren’t paying attention. 

As a young lad my sporting interest was football (soccer) , but I also played hurling and rugby but more times than not I was out with a ball having a kick about with friends and playing matches on the weekends. I was quite small but quick and I really loved playing football and as a little 10 year old I was part of a great team who nearly all attended the same school and lived in the same local area. Now below is a photo of me in the team photo and it was the year I was named player of the year. It was the highlight of career! 

As I said I have recently connected with some lads I attended secondary (high school) with on FB and this weekend they are meeting up for a few beers back in Dublin. I seen a photo of our class that was taken just before we finished school for good and I have absolutely no memory of the photo ever been taken and it was the first time I ever seen it. It was taken in 1984, before we sat our final exams in June of that year. 

I hope you have enjoyed my brief walk down memory lane and I am delighted I have been able to reconnect with my ex classmates and that I am still in touch with some of the lads in the football team photo nearly 40 years later. 

Inauguration Day

Inauguration Day

So January 20th 2017 is here and today is the day that Donald Trump gets inaugurated as President of the USA, replacing Barack Obama. The whole election campaign was divisive and since Mr Trump got elected that division seems to have just grown bigger. I am not going to get into the political rights or wrongs of any candidate but it’s a done deal and Donald Trump will be President for at least the next 4 years, whether people like it or not. 

But back to myself and how this looks to me. I love the pomp and ceremony of state occasions and I have been lucky to have attended and photographed 2 Presidents being inaugurated back home in Ireland as well as photographing 4 Presidents of Ireland while attending state events. 

I won’t get to watch today as work gets in the way but I will try follow on social media and see some highlights tonight on TV. It’s an interesting time here in the USA and the whole political landscape could be about to go into a period of flux but more than likely the status quo will remain for a while but I will be a very interested spectator to see how it all unfolds. 

Good luck to Mr Trump as president as he has his work cut out bringing divided public opinion together and running a country that is so diverse. Will he live up to his promise to ‘Make America Great Again’, I sure hope so or at least gives it his best shot. 

Update

Update

Just a quick post to update the blog on what’s been happening recently. So I arrived back in the USA on December 30th after a wonderful 2 weeks spent with Leanne in Ireland visiting my family. So much has happened since I left Ireland in November 2015 it was great to get home and spent some time with my Mam, brother, sister and friends. 

The goal of our trip was to spend time with my Mam, especially the first Christmas since my Dad passed away last July. I got to say my farewell to my Dad and to spend the time I needed to with my Mam. There was plenty of time in our trip for quality ‘Us’ time for me and Leanne, and the highlight of that has to have been our 3 day trip to Rome. A city thst has the Wow factor around every corner and well worth the visit. 

And so our trip came to an end and a s a surprise for Leanne I managed to get us upgraded for business calls for the transatlantic flight back to America. But before we could enjoy the flight I had to go through US Customs and Immigration. Leanne, as a US citizen, is able to go through US customs and immigration really quick while as a green card holder, it takes me a little longer. But as usual the staff at customs were efficient and even though it took an hour, I was cleared and ready to join Leanne for our return trip. That bit was always going to be a bit nerve wracking but it has to be done and I am thankful it went smoothly. 

And so we are back stateside and life continues. When I look back over the last 12 months and 2016, it has been a momentous year, a 1 year wedding anniversary, my Dad passing away, Robert coming to visit, travelling with Leanne to new cities and counties, starting my career here in the USA, and generally really settling into life here. Being home did remind me of some of the things I missed most beside family and friends, a decent Irish pint of Guinness, a packet of King Crisps, a roast beef carvery dinner in the pub and most of all, proper chipper chips with yummy fried chicken! 

There could be some exciting news coming my way soon so keep an eye out on the blog for the latest as I continue my journey in America with wife. They say hone is where the heart is, and mine is firmly based here in the USA now even though I will always hold Ireland and everything Irish very close to me. Being Irish is what defines me, what made me who I am today and mixing it with my American life can only make it more interesting.