It’s Christmas time. Time for friends and family. That’s also why this blog is late as I was busy spending time with said friends and family 😛 I got in last Wednesday, leaving behind centimeters of snow for millimeters of rain. A 5 am wake up call to catch a 9 am flight so that I could meet my friend at 11am for coffee. That is always my favorite part of traveling back to Ireland. I’m not 10 minutes off the plane when I run into someone I know. For a city of 120,000 I never seem to be able to make it very far without finding someone I have a vague connection with. Something I never appreciated fully until I left the place!
This blog is going to be all about Ireland, home to a lifetime of memories and friends for me. It’s going to be short as I’m technically on holidays and taking time away from family to write this but I will try to fill it with as many pretty pictures as possible to make up for that. All the photos are from the summer as it’s currently just too damn cold to go outside and this blog is not worth getting frostbite for.
So what are my plans for Christmas? Well first up is friends. Between reunions, drinks, coffee meetups and a random panto I have a pretty busy schedule. Unfortunately all these friends live in Cork city which is a good hour away by bus and as you may have heard in a previous blog the buses in Ireland are anything but reliable. So when things do work out I get to spend time with what college and work friends who are still left in Ireland. A big chunk of my age group tend to emigrate and the Irish have historically had the highest net emigration rate in Europe (https://www.irishtimes.com/news/social-affairs/ireland-has-highest-net-emigration-level-in-europe-1.1601685) It’s not that we don’t love the place it’s that there are generally more opportunities on the continent which tends to serve as a big driver for this statistic.
So with friends taken care of what other responsibilities do I have? Well, there’s always family. By family I mean my animals. Being rural people we tend to pick up a lot of animals. I was last in Ireland three weeks ago and we seem to have a new cat. I honestly don’t know how we end up with so many transient animals but I won’t complain. Some of our more permanent residents are our two dogs, our chickens, my sisters cat and our ducks. It’s one of the things I miss most while living abroad. The lack of access to animals can really be a downer. The animals obviously need a lot of time. Feeding them, taking them for walks and cleaning their enclosures doesn’t just happen by accident. I usually just stick to playing with them as it’s the easiest job 😛
Once the animals are happy there is the land and family business to take care of. The family business is heavy machinery maintenance and repair so prepare to get covered in oil and muck. Try not to lose any fingers as they don’t grow back. I used to be much more involved with the business as I was growing up but going to college has made me soft and I’m only happy when I work in a climate controlled office these days. It’s still fun to help out when I can but this is my break from work so I’ll try to avoid the workshop as much as possible! The land is the next item on the agenda. You may have heard all the furor over storm Ophelia a few months back. Thankfully she only ripped down half a dozen or so trees which is nothing in the grand scheme of things. My dad has already removed the majority of them but majority does not equal all of them so I might have to pitch a hand in with that. That’s assuming I have any time in between all the sleeping I will do.
Christmas is a time to recharge. After a busy year trying (and oftentimes failing) to adapt to the life of a PhD I’ve been left quite drained. My family are understanding of this so I get to spend my fair share of days propped up beside the fire while attempting to get through my backlog of books. A backlog that only ever gets bigger (Shoutout to my supervisor Arjen for all the free books this year!). I’m very lucky, many of my fellow ESR’s may not have the chance to return home to family. Being part of the EU and having that mobility is something I’ve come to appreciate more with age and it has helped me get farther in life and I’m not just saying that because the EU pays my bills ! One thing I haven’t taken advantage of is my ability to freely travel around the continent. Hopefully when my next blog rolls around I will have some pretty photos of other countries to show you.
Until then, slán go fóill agus Nollaig Shona