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. 

Back to radio days!

So today marked the first match of the new Airtricity League football season at home and St Patrick’s Athletic played Galway United in Richmond Park, Inchicore. The new season always starts slow, with some apprehension but mainly hope and dreams. My mission today was to figure out how to get coverage of a match taking place 5000 miles away in Dublin.

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Richmond Park, Inchicore

Luckily the Internet allows for certain luxuries and a few of the lads back in Dublin do match commentary live so I was able to tune in and listen. It brought back memories of listening to the radio coverage years ago when it was the only coverage on match evenings, in a time before the Internet. The lads do a great job, completely biased but calling it as it is. Being able to interact via messages as the match progressed was great, one fan in Spain, few in Ireland, lads in the ground and me here in Atlanta.

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Match Day Poster

The President of Ireland is a Galway man and the presidential house is in the Phoenix Park which is fairly close to Richmond park so it was no real surprise that the President attended tonight’s match, I just can’t imagine anything like that happening here without half the city getting shut down. I used to take photos at the matches for Extratime.ie, a website devoted to Irish soccer and I followed all the other matches going on tonight on their update pages as well as watching another match taking place in Cork on the TV via a mobile app. I now have a plan for each time there is a game on at home, be it TV, Internet updates or commentary.

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My View from the Touch line last season

The result tonight wasn’t the best, St Pats got beaten 3-1 by a team they would have expected to beat. The hope of the first day of the season is evaporated already and it makes the next game even more important and getting the first points of the season on the board.

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St Patrick's Athletic Crest

From now until the season ends it will be a Rollercoaster of emotions as St Patrick’s Athletic go in search of vital victories every week. Will there be a trophy at the end of the season? Will it end in absolute heartache? Will the European adventure add to the legends of years past, or will it too just fail before it gets going? Either way, I will be shouting for St Pats from Atlanta, wearing my hat and jersey and screaming at phone, tablet, or TV hoping to see Pats win.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

On the Tracks

As a young child growing up in Ireland, I was always fascinated by trains. I was lucky enough to live in Inchicore, a part of Dublin which even today is steeped in railroad history. I am not a historian but if anyone wants to read a bit of the history of where I grew up have a look at the following link.
Inchicore on Wiki

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Inchicore Village

Anyway, yet again I ramble off somewhere else other than what this post is about. There will be lots more about the town where I lived in later posts.

Back to the railway, as I lived in Inchicore, I was right beside the mainline West and South out of Dublin. Trains to Cork, Killarney, Waterford, Galway and Westport all left from Heuston and passed through Inchicore as they departed the city. I was also beside the Inchicore Railway works, which was a massive area of Inchicore and gave lots of employment to the area at one stage. Again, I am not a historian, so feel free to follow the link above which will help.

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Heuston Station

As a young man I got a job on the railways for 3 years before I joined the military and it was a tough decision to leave as I loved the trains and the job, but in 1987 Ireland, the Defence Forces offered full pensionable employment while the railway couldn’t.

Now here I am living in the USA and once again I find myself living right beside the railroad. The CSX line out of Atlanta runs right by the house and to hear the train horns every couple of hours is immense. As I grew up beside the tracks it’s easy to block out the sounds so a good night’s sleep isn’t interrupted. 

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CSX Freight Train

As I walk the dogs everyday down Peachtree Creek, I cross the tracks and nearly every day I get to see a huge CSX freight train pass by, these trains are about a mile long and in Ireland there is really nothing to compare. As someone who loves trains, the sounds of the wheels on the Tracks and the horn blowing from the engine always illicits a smile on my face. And the funny thing is, just as I typed that another train blows its horn as it approaches the level crossing.

I am possibly one of the few car drivers who is never disappointed when the lights start flashing red on the level crossing and the gates go down to signal a train is about to come across the road.

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CSX Engine

One of my dream trips will be to go across America by rail, taking in some of the most iconic rail trips available. But for now I have to be satisfied by hearing and seeing these fantastic machines daily.

First Down and ten – Superbowl Sunday

So today is probably the biggest sporting event of the year in the USA or as many would lead you to believe, the World. I doubt that but you can’t deny the Superbowl 50 is massive and will have a worldwide audience in the hundreds of millions.

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I have seen many superbowls on tv back home in Ireland, especially in its heyday on Channel 4. For me though it doesn’t compete with the All Ireland finals between Dublin and Kerry or St Pats winning a cup or League but seeing as I now live here it’s to embrace NFL and their big occasion.

So who to shout for tonight at my first Stateside Superbowl Party, well my sister in law is living in Denver so maybe I should shout for them, we live close to Carolina so maybe I should shout for them. I know little or nothing about both sides so I will come down on side of family, Denver it is.
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It won’t be the same as cheering for St Patrick’s Athletic in the soccer, or Dublin in the Gaelic games, or Ireland in any sport but will allow me to have a vested interest. I am an Irishman first, a Dubliner and Inchicore man second, so they have to be my first choice always.

Sport in the USA is completely different to what I am used to, 1500 at a game of lucky, even though I have seen Richmond Park packed to the rafters for some classical games and the atmosphere there would make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, can football or soccer here do that, unlikely.
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The emotion felt as Christy Fagan scored that second goal for St Pats as the finally won the cup after 53 years will live with me forever, and nothing will ever beat that.