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Cork

Being Mommy

It’s Raining….It’s Pouring….the kids are going crazy

February 2, 2014

And quiet frankly so am I….

It’s been a long, wet few months in Cork and once again the city is underwater this morning.

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cork-city-quays-break-banks-at-high-tide-29970680.html

http://www.independent.ie/irish-news/cork-city-quays-break-banks-at-high-tide-29970680.html

We’re in recovery from a recent bout of whatever is going around and having spent the entire weekend indoors we may quite possibly kill each other if we don’t get out today. Honestly, if we don’t get out for a bit everyday I find we are all cranky with each other.

I’m guessing the tail end of Storm Brigid (why are we suddenly naming our storms by the way) will rule out a walk or the playground today so it will be another indoor adventure for us.

My God I am sick of all the indoor play centres. It seems we’ve been touring the lot lately and I can’t take any more…not to mention they’re getting expensive.

This morning I stood at the window drinking my coffee and looking at the rain outside thinking “How am I going to occupy the Princess today?”

We’ve really had to get creative with our adventures lately so I thought I’d share some of of Princess M’s favourite ones.

Obviously these all what we’ve done in Cork but most of them can be adapted to anywhere really…

Grocery Shopping
I know what you’re thinking. The chance to do the weekly shop on your own is like a freaking holiday. I totally agree.

Outside of the weekly shop, a trip to our local supermarket can be an event around here. The Princess ‘writes’ her list usually of what we need to bake something or make something nice for lunch. We go to what she calls the ‘fun shop.’ They have those kid size shopping carts and on these adventures I actually let her use them. They also have self-scanning & she loves to scan the items, bag them and pay herself. I’ve found this adventure works best only when I have nothing to get myself and the Princess can really take charge. You’d be surprised how much time we can kill wandering around the supermarket at her pace on a rainy day.

Go for a Cuppa
Maybe I’m raising a coffee drinker, but the Princess loves to go for a coffee. Our favourite spot is a coffee shop with a big font window and high chairs (what 3 year old doesn’t like sitting on high chairs). We sit sipping our coffee and milk and play I spy or make up princess stories about the people walking by. The Princess loves these outings and I hope the Prince will enjoy a cuppa and some pirate stories all the same.

The Library
This is an obvious, free option and in our house we can’t get enough of the library. We even venture out to other nearby libraries just for a change of scenery. The great thing about a library is you can get so much mileage out of one trip. We can spend hours in the library looking for and reading books. Then when we come home we read and sometimes even act out the stories. Then suddenly its time to get ready for dinner & daddy will be home!!!

Visit the Pet Store or Garden Centre
The Princess loves our local wildlife park and farms which are all great for those dry days, but when it’s wet and I’m desperate we visit one of our local pet shops or garden centres.

Whether it’s fish, chickens, or furrier friends, the Princess loves going for a look and a chat with the animals. With two cats and a dog at home she knows that we have more animals than we can handle so she’s happy to just visit and get a special treat for our furbabies back home.

Muddy Puddles
Like the Princess’ favourite pig Peppa, sometimes there is nothing better than throwing on our Wellies and finding the biggest, muddiest puddles to jump in.

Princess M jumping loves Muddy Puddles

Princess M loves Muddy Puddles

Disclaimer:
This all makes me sounds like “Mom of the Year” which of course I am. However, I hate reading blog posts that make me feel ‘less than’ or inadequate…which I totally don’t intend to do. In the interest of being completely honest, Princess gets far more screen time than she should especially on rainy days. And I’m not going to apologize for that because quite frankly I’m doing the best I can and I happen to think that’s ok.

But if you have any great ideas to occupy my Princess on a rainy day please share!!!!

Living Abroad, Love Ireland, Uncategorized

5 Reasons I love Christmas in Cork

December 28, 2013

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Galway Continental Christmas Market 2013

I didn’t think I would ever get into the Christmas spirit this year but the past week has surprised me.  It has been hard at times but to be honest it has been far better than I had anticipated.  I enjoyed it….and of course felt guilty about enjoying it for a while but I’m not going to reflect on that.

The truth is I have always loved Christmas in Cork. 

There are so many reasons why Christmas in Ireland but today here are 5 of my top reasons.

1.  Finishing Up

At some point in November at my 9-5 we all start talking about ‘finishing up.’  Everyone wants to know when everyone else is ‘finishing up’ for Christmas.  When you get into the second week of December the evenings leaving work are filled with someone in the office wishing everyone a wonderful Christmas & New Year as they skip out of the office for the holidays.  Even though I wasn’t even in work this time I loved getting texts from my colleagues telling me when they were ‘finishing up.’   As much as I was up to it I tried to meet friends for a drink or a coffee as they finished. We got out our 2014 calendar the other day and the King and I are already talking about when I hope to ‘finish up’ next year. 

2. December 8th

As any good practising Catholic knows the 8th of December is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.  In Cork it is traditionally the day the people in the country travel to the city to do their Christmas shopping (after mass of course).  It is the official start to Christmas time in this house.  While we always decorate on December 1st, the 8th is when we start to crack open the ‘Christmas press’ where we have stashed all the goodies (i.e., chocolates, biscuits, mulled wine, etc) when visitors come to call.  And they will call all month long.

3. The Gift of Time

We buy very few gifts for people outside the family.  Aside from teachers and a few people who went above and beyond for us, or just needed a special gift this Christmas we just don’t exchange gifts with our friends.  We do however make it a point to be with and see as many people as possible over this festive time.  The days are busy with visitors, lunches, coffees, and evening drinks but it’s connecting with people we love that the business of life sometimes keeps us from that this time is about for us.

This is a huge change from my Christmases back home….I would often give gifts and sometimes spend very little time with my friends.  I imagine this is because Americans tend to have less time off and are busy with their families of course. 

4. The Holiday Parties

I know that most places have the obligatory work Christmas party both in Ireland and the US but to be honest I love it here.  Although I didn’t attend this year either the King or I had a holiday party every week from the 29th of November.  There are work parties,  I have team parties for the teams I am on at the 9-5 and then both our jobs have kid friendly family parties. 

5. Santa is an Event

In Ireland you have to start early to do your research and book your trip to Santa.  There are countless Santa experiences around Cork that are amazing.  Although costlier (anything from 20 euro per family or PER CHILD) they usually entail a half hour to hour long visit to a Santa wonderland of sorts which of course ends with a visit to the Mr and Mrs himself complete with a photo and gift!  It hands down beats the mall experience of Santa back home.   Although  while we were home in November  we did visit Santa at Destiny, USA with the cousins and I have to admit in the eyes of my 3 year old Princess the only thing that matters is the man himself!!!!!!

 

Now don’t get me wrong, I miss Christmas at home.  Christmas dinner just isn’t the same to me here and lets face it as someone who grew up with White Christmases each year it’s never the same without snow.  The King and I have also worked hard to combine our traditions.  There are plenty of home baked Christmas cookies in our Christmas press, and our gingerbread house is made.    But the fact is, its the 28th of December and it is still very much Christmas time here until at least the 2 January.

Love Ireland

Monday Morning Coffee

October 21, 2013
The Move to America

Molly from The Move to America is running a blog social/link up over on her blog. I’ve never done a link up before and figured this was a good place to start since it seems like pretty much anything goes as long as you are talking about your week ahead.

Here’s hoping I do it right….

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guinessjazzfestival.com

This week is the Guinness Jazz Festival in Cork. It’s also a long weekend since Monday a bank holiday. In years past we have put on our dancing shoes and soaked up the jazz until the wee hours. The great thing about ‘the jazz’ is that you never are disappointed. With nearly every venue in the city participating there is always something to choose from. I have to admit we’re not serious jazz connoisseurs but usually just head out for ‘the craic’ we usually go wherever the mood takes us and pub hop throughout the night. We’ve never been disappointed.

Like I said those are days gone by…this year…with little people in tow we will opt for one of the countless family friendly day time options. Which is also another reason why ‘the jazz’ is so great….it really is a family friendly festival.

One of the gigs that has really grabbed our attention is the Pink Panther Kids and All That Jazz where Fintan O’Neill will jazz up Disney favorites.

And maybe if we’re lucky Nanny and Grandad might take the kids for the night…..

If you ever have a chance Jazz Festival weekend is the last weekend in October and is a great time to visit Cork.

Tracing my Roots

Tracing My Roots- the Beginning

September 12, 2013

It seems everyone is Irish. I mean even Obama has shared a pint with his cousins in Moneygall, Co. Offaly.

I grew up knowing I was predominately Irish and Italian. The idea that you can “be” something else is foreign to a lot of my Irish friends. For the most part the Irish are just….Irish.

But part of being American is about “being” something ‘else.’ One of the great things about America is the diversity of cultures that has shaped a people.

So I always knew to identify myself as an Irish-Italian American. In fact both sets of my grandparents are Irish and Italian. I never really knew much beyond that though. To me Irish-Italian meant never eating store bought tomato sauce and family dinners every Sunday.

Unfortunately for me all my grandparents had passed away before I outgrew my indignant/not giving a shit teenage years and grew into my twenties where part of ‘finding myself’ raised a curiosity into discovering my roots.

Of course this interest in my roots became more about my obsession with moving to Ireland and less about doing any real research into my actual family tree.

I remember hearing stories as I grew up of my family and where we were from. When my parents first came to visit Cork I remember all three of us talking about our heritage and wishing we knew more.

My mother always maintained her great uncle Con had won silver and gold olympic medals in the 1906 olympics which are unfortunately not recognized by the IOC. Other than the occasional wondering where the medals were for some reason we never looked into it.

Olympic fever took over our house throughout the summer of 2012. With the games so close in London we were glued to the television each night. Bragging to the King that there was an actual olympic medalist in my family, he challenged me to more details.

Of course I knew none.

I wasn’t even sure what event my relative had participated in, but I did have a vague memory of seeing it in print several years ago and believed my mother.

Through the power of Google I had more answers within minutes. Not only did did Con Leahy infact win olympic medals, he had his own Wikipedia page! Con was both an impressive athlete, and a true Irishman, protesting his listing as a member of team Great Britain during the 1906 olympics. Sadly I learned that I had missed the 2006 commemoration ceremony of a monument to Con in Limerick.

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Photo credit: WikipediaCommons

But that is only the beginning.

By following a simple trail of bread crumbs dropped by Con, my mother’s great uncle through marriage, I was able to find more information about my actual blood line.

Through readily available online documents I soon learned that my mother’s grandfather Daniel Looney, was not only from Cork, but prior to immigrating to the US lived in Cork City on a street I drive every single day on my way to work.

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Daniel Loney line 18 arrival manifest

My one regret is that my mother and I stood less than 100 yards from the building he was living in when she visited in 2010. We just didn’t know.

Galvanized by this regret and the irony that I ( like the King) am a true Corkonian (from the north side of the city no less) I have finally committed to uncovering the story of my Irish roots in Cork as well as discovering the Irish roots of my father’s family. To help me get started I have enrolled in a evening class to learn more about genealogy and tracing my roots.

After all these years I hope to finally know more about my Irish background which was quite possibly the foundation to my early obsessions with moving here.

I believe it will be a story worth telling even if only to my own family.

Love Ireland, Visit Ireland

We’re Still Hurling

September 11, 2013

Last Sunday’s All Ireland Hurling Final between Cork and Clare was no doubt the much anticipated sporting event of the year. There was great excitement in Cork in the lead up to the game. The match itself proved to be nothing short of exciting. I have since heard of at least one middle aged man spending the rest of the evening under observation in the hospital for chest pains following the stress of the game. By all accounts the final ten minutes were intense with everything to play for. After two minutes of added time it finally had ended….

in a draw….a TIE!!!!!

So what happens when the All-Ireland Hurling final ends in a tie? How many minutes of over-time is there?

The answer is 70 minutes of extra time!!! 70 minutes, an entire re-match will be played at the end of the month.

So for another few weeks the teams will train and prepare. The Cork colours red & white will continue to be displayed outside homes, businesses and on cars.

And once again the search for the coveted tickets begins because being at the match last week does not mean you get into the rematch. The tickets are hard to come by with every GAA club the world over entitled to a portion. The people of Cork and Clare will once again be reaching out to those in other counties…and even other countries for tickets.

So if you’re reading this somewhere back home and have any links with the GAA, I’m sure I can find a few people who would could put a few tickets to use!!!!

Love Ireland, Visit Ireland

The Hurling Tradition

September 4, 2013
Flag of Cork, Ireland

Flag of Cork, Ireland (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This Sunday Cork will play Clare in the All Ireland Hurling Final. Hurling is one of two gaelic sports in Ireland. For those unfamiliar with hurling it is the fastest field sport in the world and probably the closest American sport to hurling is lacrosse. The object of the game is to pass the ball (slioter) on hurleys down the field to score one point by sending it over the bar between two uprights or to score three points by getting the ball into the goal. The players, called hurlers wear no protective padding with the exception of a helmet which were only made mandatory in 2010.

MS Paint image to show GAA colours
MS Paint image to show Clare GAA colours (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For most countries across, sport is a significant part of culture. Ireland is no different. Hurling is believed to have been played in Ireland for over 2000 years having been brought to the island by the Celts. During the times of occupation by England, while the Irish language was nearly lost, the gaelic games of hurling and gaelic football continued to thrive. Hurling and gaelic football continue to gain popularity among Irish diaspora across the world with international GAA clubs across the world.

The Irish games of hurling, the women’s equivalent camogie and gaelic football are played in schools and at local clubs within each county. Within Ireland there are over 2000 local GAA clubs (with Cork having the most clubs of any county and over 260). Although both hurling and gaelic football clubs exist in Cork, the county is for the most part known as a hurling county. However, the Cork footballers have been very successful in their own All-Ireland campaign in recent years.

Children start playing young and often dream of the honor and esteem of playing for their own county one day. Even my own held her first hurley before she could walk. There are families throughout the country that are associated with the sport having produced multiple county players across several generations.

This week, as the hurling season draws to a close with the All-Ireland Senior Hurling Final the men of the Cork and Clare teams are preparing to battle. They are not professional players, most hold full-time jobs in addition to their commitment to the sport. They have trained hard since childhood. They continue to play for their club teams as well as being included on the county panel for selection. Over the years their families, wives and girlfriends have made many sacrifices for the GAA. The senior players are heroes and icons within their county. They are often seen making charitable appearances at schools, clubs and other community events. They are held in great esteem and have undoubtedly accepted this esteem with dignity and respect.

Across Cork people’s homes, businesses, even towns are decorated in the red and white county colours. Undoubtedly Clare is a sea of blue and yellow this week. Tickets to the match are like gold dust. While the entire country will be watching, this Sunday’s match will mean more to the people of Cork and Clare as it is the country you are born in that you will support for your lifetime.

And as an expat married to a Cork man we live the tradition. The house is decorated, we watch the match all our Cork jerseys are ready to be worn and we’ll be watching together on Sunday.

(Photo credit: just4you.ie)