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


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.

A few photos from home (Ireland)

A few photos from home (Ireland)

Today’s post is just a few photos from Ireland, in particular Dublin and Inchicore for today, that I have taken over the years. I will do this every couple of weeks to help give a favour of Dublin and Inchicore and eventually Atlanta. I start with some photos that I have posted to Instagram or Twitter over the years.

Irish National War Memorial Gardens in Islandbridge 

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens was just across the road from where I lived in Kilmainham and it was where I spent so many hours walking my dog and relaxing. Whether it rained, snowed or the sun shines, it was always beautiful.

Oliver St John Gogartys Pub in Temple Bar 

Gogartys Pub in Temple Bar is one of the most popular tourist pubs in Dublin and one where I have met friends from around the globe and shared a drink or two.

Views of the Botanical Gardens in Dublin 

Another little gem for walking around is the National Botanical Gardens in Dublin. Plants and flowers decorate the pathways and it’s beautiful year round.

Inchicore Village 

Inchicore Village is where I grew up and spent most of my adult life until my move to the states in November 2015. The pub on the corner was my favourite place to have Sunday roast dinner and a pint or two.

GPO, Dublin 

The GPO is one of the most iconic buildings in Dublin and it’s place in Irish history is insured by what happened over Easter 1916. It has been the focal point of commemorations most Easters and will be again this year for the Centenary.

Houses in Inchicore 

This is a typical row of houses around Inchicore Railway works and is nearly the same as the road I lived on for 13 years.

Entrance to Kilmainham Gaol 

Another very historic landmark in Dublin and I was lucky enough to live beside it, Kilmainham Gaol was where the 1916 leaders were executed by the British and public opinion about the rising started to change because of these executions.

St. James’s Gate, Home to Guinness 

Ah the home of the Black Stuff, Guinness. St. James’s Gate has been the home to Guinness since 1759 and as a child I can remember the smell of the hops being used in the brewing process coming across Inchicore.

Richmond Park, St. Patrick’s Athletic 

The wall outside Richmond Park, home of St. Patrick’s Athletic, my football team. I have supported them all my life and now instead of attending and photographing matches every Fri from March till November, I will be relying on Twitter updates and hopefully the odd TV coverage.

Ha’penny Bridge 

Another icon of Dublin. The Ha’penny Bridge over the River Liffey. The bridge is a pedestrian crossing over the river and is 200 years old.

US Ambassadors Residence 

The ambassador to Ireland from the USA has a residence in the a Phoenix Park, again a stones throw from where I lived. The house is the former residence to the Chief Secretary to Ireland from Britain. The embassy itself is in Ballsbridge. The ambassadors residence is only a few hundred yards from the entrance to Áras an Uachtharn in, home to the Irish President.

National Convention Center and Samuel Beckett Bridge 

The National Convention Center and the Samuel Beckett Bridge are two recent additions to the Dublin skyline and are great additions. Located down river near where the Liffey leaves Dublin to go into the Irish Sea since it’s erection the Samuel Beckett Bridge is becoming an icon of modern Dublin already.

Night Images of Dublin 

A few photos of Inchicore and a restaurant in Temple Bar at night. My local bar where many a goodbye were said before I left Ireland last November start my new life here in Atlanta and pathways I have walked my whole life.

GPO and Dublin Spire on O’Connell Street 

Dublin’s main street is O Connell Street and it’s here the GPO is located and just outside it is the Millennium Spire. Opened in 2003 and nearly 400ft tall it is visible from nearly all over the city center and is a handy landmark for tourists to help them find the center of Dublin.

I hope these photos help to give a small flavour of where I lived. I will add more over the coming weeks and months.

Irish bars or Not!

One of the things I particularly don’t like is the ‘fake’ Irish bar, its annoying, commercial and mainly either English or just plastic. Old wood and Guinness doesn’t make your bar Irish, no matter how many road signs from Ireland you stick on the wall. As a marketing tool and a way of getting customers in the door I have no problem with it, everyone wants to make a few dollars here and there.

I am lucky here to have a found a few good Irish bars, one not so great but passable due to its fantastic breakfast and another I still have to try. My favourite has to be Mac Magees on the Square in Decatur. Since I walked in randomly last February it has kind of become my local, and yes its a bit like Cheers theme tune, it is nice when you walk in for the barman to say Hi to you by name, or maybe that means I am there to often. The Guinness is nice and the bar is cosy but not to small. the food is Irish(ish)and tasty. If you like Whiskey, well then it is certainly the place to go to. With the added bonus of actual Irish staff I always feel at home and welcome.

Atlanta Photos Feb 2015 (87)
Pint of Guinness on the counter in Mac McGee, Decatur

Mac Mcgees has become our ‘go to’ place at times and it was here last Feb that we had a very memorable evening so it holds a special place in our hearts. After our rehearsal dinner we even went to the bar for a few beers and after our wedding Leanne got to pull me my first pint of Guinness as a married couple. I have ventured into Fados in Buckhead a few times and I am not overly impressed but on a Saturday morning it does open early for sports and serves a wonderful breakfast. It is possibly one of the more popular Irish bars in Atlanta and I wouldn’t be totally against going there, but it falls into the bracket of wood and Irish signs and expensive beers. Oh and it charges $20 when the Six Nations Rugby is on TV so I don’t bother and I reckon on St Patrick’s Day it is one of the most popular spots to go for a beer in Atlanta.

Pint of Guinness on the counter in Mac McGee, Decatur

Last night I had a pleasure of going to the Olde Blind Dog pub in Brookhaven. As soon as we walked in we were met by a friendly kilt wearing barman who pulled 2 lovely pints of Guinness and they tasted just like home. That was me sold on the place but then we ordered food, again it was excellent and plentiful. |So far so good, it had music playing and he wasn’t just playing Irish stuff but mixing it up a bit, there were only 2 TV’s that I could see, so it was a good spot. The decor was OK, all dark wood and glass with walls decorated to look look like streets in Dublin, no plastic road signs to make the place look Irish here, paint a whole wall like Dublin, good move.

Cheers and drink responsibly! 

There are still a few other Irish bars i have to try, Rí Rá in Atlanta is one of my places to visit, even though they do have an English soccer jersey in the window, the place comes recommended by a fellow Irishman. We have been in the Marlay in Decatur just once so it would be a bit unfair to comment but it was nice and had a few GAA flags flying. But overall though the Irish bars aren’t bad and over the next few months I hope to visit a few more and see what they are like