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. 

Happy Christmas from Dublin 

Happy Christmas from Dublin 

I am back home with family for Christmas and it has been a wonderful week, catching up with friends, a 3 day trip to Rome, having a few Irish beers and showing Leanne around Dublin at Christmas. 

Later today all the family, my Mam, brother and sister and their spouse and children will gather in my Mams for Christmas dinner and a family celebration and some remembrance too. 

But I want to take this opportunity to wish everyone a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

51 Weeks! 

51 Weeks! 

Building up to the anniversary of my move to the USA last year I am going to try post a memory or two from the last year since I got here and a few from just before I left Ireland. 

My first one is from when before I left Ireland and it involves my Dad. A week or so before my flight I along, with my Mam, went to the nursing home to see my Dad who had been deteriorating with Alzhemiers over the past while. Little did I know then as I held my Dad’s hand and chatted to him and tried to tell him I was leaving to head to America to marry Leanne, that it would be the last time I would speak or see my Dad alive.

My Dad had met Leanne only the previous July and I doubt if there was much recognition but I was glad he did get to meet her. A year later from meeting Leanne, my Dad passed away. This December when I go back to Ireland to visit my family, I will definitely be taking a moment to remember my Dad and to be thankful for everything he gave me and us as a family.  

Not a day passes when I don’t think of my Dad and miss him but in the end it was probably a kindness that he passed away when he did. As a family we have our memories and they are something we will cherish. Being here in America for when my Dad passed was hard, but it was a decision that wasn’t taken lightly even though there was always a chance when I stepped on that plane on November 5th 2016 that that visit in October was my farewell to my Dad. 

Hopefully I will be able to post another few memories in the coming week

11 months and counting 

11 months and counting 

Tomorrow I will be in the USA 11 months. I won’t go over what the last 11 months have been like as I intend to do a full review of the year in early November. But in saying that I have a few things I as a new immigrant to the USA have noticed about family and the upcoming election. 

So lets get the politics out of the way early in the post. In a little over 5 weeks the people of the USA will go to the polls to elect the next President. And 2 of the most disliked and opinion polorising candidates are going head to head for the right to be elected the 45th President of the USA. As always I do a little digging when it comes to learning new stuff and I found that even though Barack Obama is widely regarded as the 44th President of the United States, there have only been 43 Presidents. And this is because Grover Cleveland is counted as both the 22nd and 24th President, he was elected, lost an election then won again 4 years later.

Now to change direction completely, this last weekend I traveled to Denver with Leanne to celebrate the wedding of her sister, and my sister in law, to her new husband. The wedding was a wonderful family occasion and it was lovely to see my parents in law again so quickly after the recent family wedding in Pittsburgh. I am very privileged to have been welcomed into the Michaelis family with open arms. I am getting to know Leanne’s immediate family really well and her extended family and cousins as well. 

The reason I mention all this is I never really had much of a relationship with my cousins after childhood and to see Leanne reconnecting with her cousins over the last 11 months has been wonderful. At the wedding I had the honour of escorting my Mother in Law down the aisle before her daughters marriage, I was delighted to be asked and able to do this. Family is big part of my life here now and I am lucky to have married into a very loving family. 

None of the above takes away from my own family back home in Ireland, I chat to my Mam and son quite regularly and message my sister often. My relationship with my brother was never great once we reached adulthood but I do try keep on contact. As a family we have had a tough year, with my Dad passing, so it will be good to see them all in December when we travel back to Ireland. I hope they all realise I do miss them all and look forward to seeing them at Christmas. 

Next week I start a new job and will be working 9-6, Monday to Friday, so posts might become even more irregular than they are now but I do intend to continue the blog as long as I can, definitely until Jan 2017. After that I will regroup and have a think and see what direction I take with the blog. It is interesting sharing what my life here is like after living in Ireland for the first 48 years of my life. I hope you, my readers and followers, enjoy it too. 


Start of another week! 

Well time here is flying by. Can’t believe it’s already passed mid September. This time last year I had received my visa back from the US embassy in Dublin and had just booked my one way ticket to the USA for November 5th. There is a post later in the year that will look back on 2016 and my first 12 months so now is not the time but I will look back and forward just a little now. 

So mid September 2015 and a huge step was taken on my journey through life. I now had my K1 Visa to come to America and marry the girl of my dreams. We had known each other for 14 years but the conversation that led to the visa application took place over a few months in 2014 and 2015. Once we decided and knew what we needed to do we got on it right away, filling in forms, closing down my life in Ireland and getting ready to cross the Atlantic to start a whole new chapter of life with Leanne. 

Did I ever envisage myself living in America? I can honestly say No, I never thought I would leave Ireland, especially at 48 years of age. I didn’t have wanderlust throughout my life even though I was lucky to travel to lots of different and diverse countries as part of my job in the Irish Defence Forces. But when myself and Leanne had a conversation about our lives we both realized we were on the same page. Then came the fun of sorting it out so we could have our lives together on the same side of the Atlantic. 

Living together in Ireland was discussed briefly, but the opportunities and Leanne’s career here in the USA meant there was really only one viable option. And I embraced it, I would emigrate to the USA and start again here. Leanne has been my rock over the last 10 months, and especially the last 2 months. I still struggle with the loss of my Dad and I am not sure I have dealt with it completely yet. But Leanne just manages to say the right things and do the right things at just the right moment (now some of my friends can take their minds out of the gutter please). You would be surprised what a little fry up, or some good Irish tea will do for me, a reminder of home while still 3500 miles away. 

I look forward to seeing Ireland in December, spending time with friends, having a few beers, spending Christmas Day with my Mam and family, and going on a mini honeymoon for our first anniversary to Rome with Leanne. 

I mentioned the other day that home is where the heart is, well my heart is in Atlanta, my head is in Atlanta and it certainly is my home. But that will never take Ireland or where I was born out my thoughts. You can take the man out of Ireland but you can never take Ireland out of the man. 

Missing Family 

So as promised the blog will be back but posts will be more sporadic as life here in the USA settles into normality. Work and day to day routine will take up some of the time I had for writing posts. It does put the blog at a bit of a crossroads but I will endeavor to continue posting as my life here progresses. 

Anyway, back to the title of this post. Yes I miss my family back home and how much I miss them, especially my Mam, was brought home to me recently with the loss of my Dad. Been a recent emigrant from Ireland I knew it would be difficult to get home for any funeral so I had discussed the matter with my Mam and we had decided if anything happened while my son was visiting that I would stay here and make a trip home in December with Leanne. 

I said goodbye to my Dad last November, just before I left Ireland, and it was hard as I knew then it was possibly the last time I would see him alive. Alas that is exactly what it was to be. This kind of thing has been happening to emigrants for centuries so it’s nothing new. Millions of emigrants can’t get home for funerals or any other family occasions but that is something for that comes with starting a new life so far from your home country. 

I made my decision to move to the USA to be with Leanne over a year ago, and part of the decision process was making sure I was comfortable and my Mam was comfortable with me moving so far away. Even though we were both on the same page on which direction I was moving it doesn’t make it any easier. 

For a brief moment we looked at flights home to Ireland in a few weeks but it is to expensive and it would  also mean missing out on our pre arranged trip to see friends as well as family for our first wedding anniversary. All this might sound as all the decisions were made with just our lives been the deciding factor, but I had and still do involve my Mam and now my sister in the process. 

Involving family in our decision helped make probably the hardest decision I had to make slightly easier, not to travel home for my Dad’s funeral. My Mam and sister were great support and it was good to be able to chat to them both over the days of the funeral and to hear of the support family and friends had given them. 

During one of the conversations with my Mam over the last week, I mentioned I was missing home and them and wished I could have been there for the funeral. In my Mams typical fashion she just said one sentence to make me feel a bit better. I will paraphrase it a little but the general jist of it was about how close we were in my last few years in Ireland and that I done my supporting and caring in my Dad’s living years and that he would understand that my life has a new and bright beginning here in the USA

I have my green card, I have a stamp in my passport which will make travelling to Ireland much more straightforward and I look forward to seeing all my family and friends in December. To all my Mams friends, to friends of my brother and sister, and to all my friends, both here and back home in Ireland, thank you for all your support over the last couple of weeks, it means a lot. 

Some answers to commonly asked questions about me

Some answers to commonly asked questions about me

Since I arrived in the USA last November I have been asked numerous questions about Ireland, what I miss the most and what do I like about the USA best. I felt it was unfair to try answer these questions to soon into my new life but today I am going to give some insights into some of the questions I have been asked. 

Let’s start with an easy one, What do I miss most? Well it has to be family and friends. Being away from my son, Robert, has to be the hardest thing ever, even though we did live apart in Ireland we seen each other nearly every other week or for a weekend every month. Having Robert here these last 12 days has been great and we will have some quality time together over the next 4 weeks before he heads back to Ireland and college. We will get to celebrate his 18th birthday together and that is an important milestone in his life and I am delighted he will be here for it. 

Robert joined me at my job the other day

I lived only a short distance from my parents and I dropped around quite regularly especially as my Mam is now on her own since my Dad went into an Nursing home because of advanced Alzemhiers. It’s hard being away from my parents as they get older as there is a realization that I may never see them again or that a trip home could be my last time to see them and that was something I have to be aware of all the time. 

My parents still holding hands after 56 years

I miss my friends a lot too, meeting to go to football matches together or just a drink and a chat. I had some great work colleagues in Dublin Airport and the Defence Forces and it was always great to meet up for a beer or two. Some of my closer friends were from going to the St Patrick’s Athletic matches and we always had fun when we got together. An added piece to that is missing going to the ‘local’ pub just to chill out.This is something that can’t be done here, even though there are enough bars but none fall into the ‘local’ bracket. 

The football friends

Some of the questions I have been asked about Ireland are religious or political and for now I am going to give answering them a miss even though I did enjoy some decent chats with people about Brexit and how it will effect Ireland and Europe. Other questions about a Ireland are the basic ones, like what to do amd where to go on a visit. I advise nearly everyone to go to Kilmainham Gaol, Guinness Brewery, Galway and the Western coast, Killarney and if time allows to head up North. Of course they all want to go to Temple Bar, and all I can do is advise to avoid the area as its a pricey expensive tourist trap. This is a complete edited list of what to do or where to go as there are so many wonderful places and things to do but I notice a lot of people only visit Ireland for 2-4 days and combine the trip with England, Scotland and Wales or Europe.

I am going to come back to all of this as my time in the USA lengthens. And I know I haven’t mentioned what I like most about the USA but I want to form a greater opinion before I answer that. But one thing I do like is the friendliness of most people I have met or dealt with in personal or professional matters. 

And just to add something to lighten the mood, besides family and friends, I genuinely do miss them all, I also miss a decent roast dinner, with roast beef, vegetables (carrots, broccoli and cauliflower) potatoes (mashed, roasted and chips and some lovely home made gravy poured over it and a lovely a creamy pint of Guinness to drink. 

A proper pint of Guinness, something I miss


Exciting News

Exciting News

In a little over 36 hours my near 18 year old son, Robert, will arrive in Atlanta after a flight from Ireland via Chicago. It’s been over 7 months since I seen him and that has probably been the hardest thing to get over since I made the move over to the USA last November.  

We have an exciting and busy 6 weeks planned while he is here, and we will both celebrate our birthdays while he is here. On July 25th,Robert will reach 18 years of age. Back home I would have been able to legally buy him his first pint of Guinness, but alas here in the US that won’t be possible. Giving him a drink at home isn’t the same as buying him his first legal drink. I remember my Dad buying me my first drink on a family holiday as I turned 18, it’s kind of a tradition in Ireland, even though way to many kids drink alcohol before they reach the right age. 

In other news, it was 1 year ago today that I received news from USCIS that my application for a Visa had been approved. It would take another few months to actually finish the process but that piece of news was vital in the plans the future for myself and Leanne. It’s strange to think back to this time last year and how stressful it was waiting in that email from USCIS and the relief when it came through.  

For now I am going to enjoy having Robert over for 6 weeks and not think about when he has to go home. It is difficult being a father so far away from my son but we have Skype and Viber so that helps. I am super proud of him for finishing up in school and completing his final exams. He has dealt with a lot considering I split from his Mam when he was young and he seen his parents divorce. Robert is a politepolite, caring and good young man, and all that will stand to him as he embarks on college in September. I know Lassie is looking forward to seeing Robert too because when I mentioned his name the other day her ears perked up and she immediately looked out the window.   

I just have to say one more thing on a totally different topic. One of my first posts on blog was about my visit to the dentists. Well 6 months later and even though I still dread going I have to say the people at Start Smiling in Sandy Springs are absolutely fantastic. Yesterday was probably the hardest and most painful visit but it was handled with care and kindness, something Irish dentists don’t understand. So my thanks to Dr Sayeg and all his staff for helping this Irishman over his fearsfears, and to Leanne for looking after a groggy and sore me once I got home. 

I am not sure how much I will post over the next few weeks while Robert is here because I will be concentrating on him but I will try do some updates. 

Slán for now. 

5 Months

5 Months

Just as the title suggests, today marks the day that I left Ireland and traveled to the USA 5 short months ago. I had an idea that life here would be better than back home, for starters I would be sharing it with the love of my life and my then wife to be. 5 months later and we are over 3 months married and having fun together.

So today’s post will be a little recap on the first five months of my life here in the USA. It has been good but has taken a fair bit of readjusting and even though there are some similarities between Ireland and the USA, it’s quite obvious we are 2 distinct cultures. When people here say customer service, about 90% of the time they mean good service because that’s what is expected and received. Now only if Ireland could get that memo and even though you work in a service industry, there is no need to be a grumpy fecker. If you are one of those people that hate your job, hate people coming into your shop or business, well then leave the job rather than take it out on the customer. It wouldn’t be tolerated over here by customers for a minute.

Onto driving, at first that scared the hell out of me. Driving my first day part of the way from Orlando to Atlanta was probably the least confident I was in a car since my very first lesson back in 1990. In 5 short months it has got better, even though I do still use GPS and ask Leanne to just confirm I am in the right lane.

I have had interesting conversations with people as a lot of people just know Ireland from movies or photos or visiting as a tourist and not seeing the ‘real’ Ireland. I do my best to tell them about the real Ireland, like how it’s ok for us to hate U2 and to slate them, but not for them to slate them. They are ours so even though we slate them at home, we will defend them across the globe. It’s an Irish thing. One thing I have noted and maybe Guinness should make a note of this too, bar staff cannot pull a pint of Guinness. I have been served some nice tasting Guinness, but it is basically just poured like a beer. Please bar staff, stop it or join those grumpy feckers in a new career. Some of the enjoyment in a Guinness is waiting and watching it settle before it’s topped off.

Now food, wow how much choice do people want. You can have a simple burger done about 100 different ways in 1000’s of places. And then what is on the menu is changed by people saying they want a particular burger but with something either added or taken out. If you are lover of salads, well then the USA is the place for you. I am not a salad eater for main meal, it belongs between two slices of bread in a sandwich as far as I am concerned, but some of the salads served look fantastic and come with foods I never heard off.

And finally onto family and friends. I done a few posts the other day about family and the pets as well as Robert, my son. I will reiterate that now, I am a lucky guy because my family and my newly extended family have been wonderful in their support for my move here and helping me settle in. My friends back in Ireland send me messages via Facebook, Viber and WhatsApp, and every single message is greatly appreciated.

This is probably the only post that doesn’t have any pictures except for the header photo. That is a deliberate choice as I wanted the words I am writing to stand on their own and to share my thanks to everyone who has been part of this journey so far. There is lots more to come so keep in touch and drop me a message anytime.

To wrap up it wouldn’t right of me not to mention the one person who helped to make my journey here possible, my darling wife, Leanne. We met in 2001, waited 13 years before having a conversation about our future together and here we are now, a happily newly wed couple. To Leanne I say Thank you for starting that conversation, thank you for the last 5 months and thank you for making me so happy.

Bringing my dog to America

Bringing my dog to America

Continuing the trend of posts about family it wouldn’t be right of me not to include Lassie, my 5 year old Border Collie. I first met Lassie when she was born but it was 6 weeks later when Robert was with me that he picked the same dog from the bunch amd gave her the name Lassie. She was born in Co Mayo, on the west coast of Ireland and made the journey back to Dublin with me just before Christmas 2010 in a small box that I had till I left Ireland.


I got Lassie just after I retired from the Defence Forces and she became my constant companion as I went to college and started work in the airport. My last pet was actually my sisters dog so Lassie was the first pet I owned myself. For the next 4 and a bit years long walks down the park were a daily part of my routine. I met some wonderful people while walking in the park and Lassie met some great doggie pals. I am still in touch with them and they regularly ask how Lassie is doing.


One of Lassies best pals is a little terrier called Pippa, they were neighbors and went everywhere together. Luckily when I was working shift my neighbour would bring Lassie and Pippa to the park and let them have a run around. It is the one thing Lassie misses, being able to get off her leash and run with her pals. But she does have a new pal now, her adopted brother, Bozley. Ever since we arrived in America Lassie and Bozley have got on great. Of course getting a dog to the USA isn’t just a case of arriving at the airport, like everything else it took advance planning. I started the planning in August for a November flight, getting Lassie rabies shots, blood tests, buying a crate and booking place on flight.

Lassie always either slept on the bed or on the floor so the crate was just a piece of furniture until the day of the flight. Unfortunately dogs travel cargo so I had to let Lassie go with the airline early. In fairness Aer Lingus were superb, even coming up to me on the plane before take off to let me know Lassie was on board and looking good. With the stress of me emigrating it was nice of the airline to do that for me.


I love my dogs, it’s not just Lassie but Bozley as well now. We go on walks everyday and generally have fun. The 2 dogs follow me everywhere, and I mean everywhere! I wouldn’t have it any other way as they are both part of the family, are loved by us both and well looked after. Next week will be a challenge for Bozley as he goes in for an operation to have his leg removed but with Lassie there to help him and our love he will be in good hands.


I make no apologies but I am a dog person and there were times when things didn’t look so good that Lassie would come over, just lie beside me, rest her head on my leg and look up at me and then I would know everything was going to be ok.


Have a great weekend folks and have fun. It’s time for me to go and enjoy some time with my wife and dogs. I will be back on Monday with an update on how my return to playing football after nearly 20 years away from playing.