This site is about my activities during leisure time in Dublin – without the longer trips. As you can see, my life in Dublin was not only work and moving to other accommodations. Always kean to learn more, I was looking for activities in Dublin on the Internet. Sometimes I was lucky and could attend such events, one never had seen as a tourist. I also was engaged in more unusual projects, but more about it below:
During the first weeks on Ireland I was lucky that the owner of the B&B for the first fortnight was taking us to an Irish Set Dance event. It was arranged of the local community association and we were told, how to dance set dance, partly like a line dance. It was fun, therefore I was looking for, where I could learn to dance it, but there was only one opportunity and it was far away from where I was living. I never started there. At this community was a professor, who was befriended with the owner of the B&B, but the important thing was, that he was one of the people, who tried to keep alive the Gaelic language and culture. People in Ireland speak mostly English now. Gaelic is not common anymore. At school, pubils can chose Gaelic instead of a foreign language. Once in the commuter train, I heard teenagers talking about foreign languages they had chosen at school. One of them had chosen Gaelic and the others were wondering why, because it is so hard to learn.
The first regular activity I joined, was the English Language Evenings. They were held once a week for free and a retired English teacher supported the group. This group was for foreigners only. Almost all of us had come for work to Ireland, a few were students or au pairs. There were only a few people continuously participating every week, like me and others were coming once or twice. After a while, there were most new comers and it was hard to develop my language skills further. Anyway, I met Martina from the Czech Republic there and we became friends after a while. Surprisingly a French guy, who participated, made a fool of a Spanish speaking guy by reminding him, that Spanish people e.g. cannot say “station”, in Spanish they say estación or Stephen, it is Estaban in Spanish. Therefore I reminded him, that the French cannot say “house” etc, because they cannot pronounce the “h” in the beginning of a word. He got quiet, but he did not apologize. On my way home, I was thinking about, that the Spanish neither can pronounce the “h” in the beginning of the word, but that does not matter. It was just the way how the Frenchman talked to the Spanish, what irritated me. By the way, sometimes this Frenchman was hard to understand, e.g. when he said “else” as it sounded for me, but he was talking about “health”. Usually one can understand by the whole sentence, but when it is in the beginning of a sentence it is more difficult. The first weeks of this class was very important for me and get me used to talk in English. In the beginning I made a lot of grammtical mistakes, but as soon as I had spoken out loud, I also had heard my mistake. After a while I was much better in that. Hear I also can name, that the Irish way to speak English is partly very different to the English from Great Britain – which we learned at school. There are some people speaking a very clear English, but others do not. Especially the blue-collar workers have an Irish dialect, which is very hard to understand. I had good company of many other people with this difficulties. A last thing I have to tell you about this class. Once we were talking about the Drink Driving Limit for Ireland. It had recently been adjusted to the less (“Drink driving is a very serious offence in Ireland. The legal limit for fully licenced drivers is 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The legal limit for professional and learner drivers is 20 milligrammes of alcohol per 100ml of blood.” RSA [Road Safety Authority Ireland]) and the teacher was very disappointed about that, because of all the people at the countryside, who no longer can drive home from the pub. I told him, that we in Sweden have a lower limit and that we are used to it. If people at the countryside will drive to a pub a distance away, usually there is always a driver, who does not drink alcohol that time. I also added, that safety comes first.
The Dublin city center was my first sightseeing goal. During the first few weeks I did take photos of all for me different items, like houses, the two-story buses (like in GB, but they have other colours). There were newer buses, which were driving in the city center and some upper class neighborhoods. In the areas, where I was going to by bus, usually the busses were older and some times really old. They were not always clean.
During my first winter in Dublin, I often was to Shopping centers during the weekends, to get some warmth. I also visited museums for that reason, beside of, that I am interested in museum’s stuff. One of them, I paid a visit, was the Irish writers museum. It is a little museum, but very interesting and their were so many writers, I did not know they were Irish. Because they are using the English language, I was not aware of it. I stayed at the museum for three or four hours, twice as much as visitors usually do. During the month of December, there were many nice Christmas decorations. Beside a big Christmas tree was a table with information about shoeboxes with toys for children av poor families. One could “adopt” a boy or a girl and even in a special age group, that the Christmas gift will fit the child. I promised to come with a box for a 10 – 13 year old boy. I thought, it is a really good idea and expected, that boys in that age are underrepresented from the givers. It was not very easy to find an empty shoebox, but I left my Christmas gift in time. Actually, I do not remember, what I had put in it, but the value of the gift does not matter either.
In Blanchardstowm was a pub called The Bell. Many of my colleagues went their for an after work beer or whisky. Often they had lifemusic on Saturday nights. It was music for the youngsters, anyway I tried it once. By the volume I had difficulties to understand other people, because of my hearing aids, which does not filter the noise. I was not an often seen guest. I gave it another try with my daughter, when she visited me. We ordered a Guiness stout for me and a whisky for her and tasted each others drink. We did not like the whisky. That evening no many guests had come or maybe, they had not arrived yet. Anyway it was lonely and boring.
The mest important event for the Irish is St. Patrick’s Day, which is hold once a year – always the 17th March. St. Patrick is the saint of Ireland and the day is celebrated nearly like a national day. You can read more about it, by following the link.
When I lived in Castleknock I found out, where I could participate in some interesting classes, one of the two I had chosen was a Spanish class. Actually my English was not good enough at that point for learning Spanish, but I learned some more English. I had to quit the class, because of moving to the city center. Usually it is easier to go to all the suburbs from the city center, but in this case, it was too time consuming and worse was the way home from the school. Anyway during the 5 weeks I participated I had some interesting conversations with the female principal of the school, especially how they treat pupils with special needs and actually it was not better than in Sweden, even they are more aware of the problems, but the schools are quite poor.
In the same school, where I attendet the Spanish class, I was learning dansa Salsa. I had some problems with the move of my bottom. I was not vigorous like Latin American dansers ;-). This class I also had to quit after 5 weeks. In the contrary like it is usual in Sweden and, I think, even in Germany, I did get half of the fee back for both of the clases.
When I lived in the city center (Dublin 1), I started to go to the cinema once a month on Saturday nights. I had no accompany, but at the cinema it is not so important. One movie I remember was “Seven lifes” with Will Smith, another movie I remember, but the titel and the names of the actors, was about a mother, who had lost her child, a boy. He had been on the way to the groceri shop and did not come home again for years. The mother never gave up by searching for him and she found another mother, who also had the some problem. At the end, the children were found, but only by his sons cleverness, he finally made it home and told his mother, what happened. He was caught by a man with a pick-up truck. A boy in his age had helped the man to get him interested in by asking for the directions. That boy was forced, like all the boys were, who the man had caught. They were held in cages like chickens etc and from time to time the man did take one of them and eat. The mother’s boy was going to the police station and the boy had to tell his story, though more than him could leave, but that horrible man took a gun and tried to shoot them. Not all could leave that estate alive. This movie was based on a real occurrence. My cinema visits ended, when I moved to Cellbridge.
When living in the city center, I also joined a drama class, where we learned performance without a script. We were mostly foreigners. There were three Irish people participating. Most of us were women, but also three men were in the class. The location for the class was in a school, actually in the basement of the school and I was surprised in which bad condition the building was. It was hard for me to go there, just because of the condition of the building. It was only because the trainer was so good that I continued attending the course to the end. At the end of the class we performed a play, where I played a drunk woman, falling of the chair, I tried to sit on. One of the other class members told me, that my roll was a shame (not my acting), but I had chosen it by myself. I did not agree with her. In the beginning of the class, when we were exercising, once I actually forgot my line, even it was just one line. I did not understand that, but was told, that this is happening all actors, even the most skilled. I tried to participate in the following class as well, but it was impossible for the reason, that I had moved to Cellbridge. Anyway, I was invited to their performance at the mid of July 2009 and did get my certificate for the first class. The most important we learned was to stand in the right position, when waiting for the turn, that means to be ready for our own performance.
I found out, that there is a Photography club in Dublin and joined it as well. We actually had to show prov, that we are good enough to become a member of the club. One day in January 2009, we new comers were invited to follow a good photograper from our club for a photo session outside. We were taking a walk through a part of the city center of Dublin and take photos after our own decision and the next club evening we did get response on our motives and the way, we had taken the photos. I was so happy, because my motives got praise and I was told, that I am good in finding motives. (Maybe you cannot see it on your screen, but there are water drops on the flowers and the plastic around the flowers).
Eating out at the weekends during daytime was not a problem, especially that I usually ate at restaurants in shopping centers/malls. Once I wanted to dine a Saturday night. There were no many open restaurants, especially not the kind of, I was looking for. When I finally found one, I liked, it was quite crowded in there. Though I was asking, if there was a place left. Before I got an answered, I was asked for how many people. I thought, it would be easier to get a seat for one, but instead, I was denied entrance to the restaurant. This was an unexpected lesson for me!
I tried to be a vegetarian after a while on Ireland, cheered on by my children, and became a member of a COOP, buying bulk food and selling to cheaper prices, but also having space for farmers, who sell their own goods like cheese, bread, vegetables etc. The goods, the farmer were selling were more expensive, than similar in the supermarket. If I remember right, there were no fee for membership, but one was asked for practical help. Therefore I helped with the stocktaking, which was done once a month. When I was living in Cellbridge, I helped with administrative work instead, which I could manage by the Internet. The teacher and the ranger, I was hiking with, also were members of this COOP.
At that time I also tried to help the elderly at a hospital. I joined a group of Irish women, who did. It was only about breaking the loneliness, not nursing. Before I met the first lonely patient, I was instructed by the group, what it is all about. Then one of them took me to the hospital and one of the patients, they usually visit. During the conversation I understood, that I would be hard for me to understand this woman as well as I did not know, what I should talk about with her. Therefore I gave up, before I really started. My idea had been to give something back to the Irish, because of the chance I had got to earn money in their country. I paid taxes, of course, but I thought, that is not enough, because everyone has to pay taxes, even the Irish.
When my children visited me and when Samuel started working at IBM, we took shorter and longer trips. The longer ones have got there own site, about the shorter trips you can read below:
2008 started with the first trip outside Dublin, when my daughter and I went to Bray and Greystones. Some colleagues had told me, that Bray is beautiful and yes, it is, but it is not big, therefore we continued to Greystones, which that lives up to its name. Meanwhile we were lucky with the weather in Bray – with sunshine, in Greystones it was ruggy and started drizzling. We were going by train (DART) to both of the cities and partly the rails were very close to the sea, especially when we passed the cliffs.
Several times i visited St Stephen’s Green in the city center by myself, especially when I had seen the magnolias bloom. I tried to see them as often as possible.
Some times I was walking throughout other parks. In the beginning I also tried to explore Blanchardstown. I have seen some interesting things there as well and was happy about the few flowers, at the wayside.
Parks usually were opening at 10am and closing at 5pm during winter time. During summer time they are open until 9pm or 10pm, depending on the month. All parks are fenced. I did not like the fences around the parks. One of the explanations, I have heard, was, that people will throw their rubbish into the park for saving the fee for garbage disposal. I do not know if that is true.
On my 58th birthday Samuel took my to the Guiness brewery. The tourist area is in the glass tower. I thought, I will be afriad of the high, but by the glass walls, I was not. We did get a guided tour of the brewery, afterwords we were welcome to taste the beer. There was a possibilty to take photos with the Guiness advertising, but I could not save it, even we got the photo by email. The only thing I could save, was the common advertising.
In February 2008 I was in Malahide, Dublin for the first time. As I had written in Settling in Dublin, my son Daniel and his girlfriend was visiting me. The Dublin bus serves the entire county of Dublin, though also Malahide. It was easy to go there. Close to the castle we have seen one or two peacocks. Daniel tried to get them to open their feather splendor, but it was the wrong time of the year. He and his girlfriend were very interested in the graveyard and read a lot on the tombstones and actually, the text was really interesting. Even the shape of the tombstones was. When we get hungry, we bought scones. Swedish people have to know, that scones here are very different to the scones we bake at home. They are much higher and smaller, the shape is similar to a muffin. One can buy plain scones or fruit scones. The fruit scones are with raisins, but no other fruit. One muffin is good for getting unhungry for a while. We also bought water or something else to drink. Sometimes, when I was going on a trip, I prepared with a bottle of water, but I usually bought scones on my way.
In June 2008 I was back in Malahide, but with my son Samuel. That time we also were visiting Malahide town and harbour as well as the beach including Portmarnock. We participated in a guided tour of the castle, had our scones in the city of Malahide, took a fast look at the Marina and continued to Portmarnock. While we were in the garden of the castle, the sun was shining. In Portmarnock it was raining slightly.
In the end of June 2008 Samuel and I followed our hiking group to Howth and Ireland’s Eye. Finally in Howth, it started raining cats and dogs, but only for a short while. Therefore we were able to follow with one of the regular tourist boats. We had three hours on the island, before the boat crew picked us up again. There were neither an opportunity to stay longer nor to go back earlier. The special with the island are all the seabirds, which are nesting there, including sea gulls with black vings. Back in Howth, we took photos with the special lighthouse and were sightseeing the village. We could also listen to a Scottisch music group and their last song for the day.
In July 2008, my daughter was visiting us. Togehter with Samuel we were visiting Skerries. It was a quite sunny day, Partly we were following a river, we also were at the seaside, but most of all I loved the old cottages, which were nicely painted.
July 2008 also held a bigger excursion ready for us. The Trip to the Aillwee Cave, Burren and Cliffs of Moher. There is an own site for this one.
During the same month we walked the green at the seaside of Marino. I had seen the area before, but by bus, when I had taken a bus in the wrong direction ;-). We enjoyed the lack of fences, tried to find out, which suburb was on the other side of the sea and what the monuments and art stand for as well as we were surprised about the little grove of palmes.
In the mid of September, Samuel and I followed the hiking group to the Wicklow mountains. Even this trip has it’s own site.
Two weeks later, Samuel and I tog a trip by bus to the Powerscourt gardens. There were a quite high entrance fee, anyway we decided to pay it. Unfortunately, the weather was grey and from time to time it was raining. With rain clothes it did not bother us a lot, but we were unhappy, that we could not take better photos of the beautiful nature as well as we expected, that all the flowers and trees would look nicer, when the sun is shinig. Anyway there were lots of rose bushes and most of them in full blom. Especially Samuel was so thrilled of them, that he took lots of photos. Even the entrance gates were beautiful. Leaving the gardens, we have seen a sign for the Powerscourt waterfall and decided to visit them later.
In November the same year I was going by train to Limerick and Bunratty, but that is another story, which you will find on a separate page.
We did not take a lot of trips or outside activities during the winter month, partially because I was looking for another place to live and then the move, partially by the weather, which did not invid us to leave our cosy home more as necessary, but the recurring events. During the Easter holidays I visited Connemara (see the site about Galway and Connemara).
However, during the month of May both Samuel and I did get active again. Besides of my trip to a park, close to the Monasterevin monastery with lots of bluebells (see Moving to and Living in Cellbridge ) Samuel and I visited a park at Dalkey, probably a part of the Killiney Hill Park. The sun was shining, but it was windy and not very warm. There were lots of flowers and insects as well.
By myself, I took a trip by car in County Kildare. I like to see, what else there is, but Cellbridge. I did not come so far. I have just been to three towns: Kildare, Naas and Newbridge. All of them average Irish towns.
This month, Samuel and I were going to Powerscourt Waterfall as well. When we had been to the Powerscourt Gardens, the weather had not been very good (see above), but this day, we were more unlucky, because it was raining all the day. We were waiting in the car in front of the waterfall for some dry minutes. We had to wait for a very long time and honestly, even we were taking photos with us infront of the waterfall, it still was drizzling.
At the end of June 2009 Samuel, his girlfriend and I tog a trip to Kerry and the Dingle peninsula. It was the last time we did make things together, when I lived on Ireland. I dedicated this area also en own site, called “At the end of the world“. Why the page has this name, you will find out, when you read it.
The 4th July 2009 Samuel and I started on our last trip together – on Ireland, of course. We visited the County of Donegal and made a dejour to Belfast, Northern Ireland. I gave the page about this trip the name “At the Other End of the World“, you will find it by the link.
There was almost one town left, I had to see: Tipperary. because for a few days I was thinking about that song about Tipperary (like: I am on the way to T. and my girl, she waits for me). There should be a music event 11th July 2009 and Martina followed me. It became not at all the way we had expected and the weather did not like us either, but we got unforgettable memories. You will find the story on the site for Tipperary.
When my last weekend in Ireland had arrived. Martina had promised me a free museum visit in Dublin and I obediently showed up there on Saturday. However, I did not see her at the entrance, so I paid the entrance fee and informed myself about the “Viking Age” in Ireland. The guide said that the Nordic countries at this time were so overpopulated that people emigrated: the Swedes to Russia, the Norwegians to Canada and the Danes to England. In Sweden I had never heard of this, however, from poor harvests in the middle of the 19th century when many people – not just Swedes – emigrated to America. So different stories are told in different countries, but it is just a point of view. Of course, I also read about the Crusaders, but it was long after the Vikings. The museum’s exhibition building is next door to a church, which can also be viewed for an entrance fee. I had not bought a ticket for the church. I thought it was expensive enough with the museum. Where you come from the museum to the church, Martina served and she let me into the sanctuary for free. Unfortunately I could not enjoy it, because my parking time was running out and it in the church was just a very quick look. By the way, the entrance fee into the church is explained by the fact, that the church does not receive any money from the state and they need to finance their activities in some way.
Another Sunday I have been together with a German colleague. We have been in the woods and tried to pick mushrooms. She said, that she is good at it, but this time we were unlucky. The forest – or better the park – is not too far from where she lives. She goes there quite often. Before we left the area, we also came to a lake with a lot of water lilies. Many of them bloomed. Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me, because it was a very beautiful view. By the way, you have to pay admission if you enter the area by car because the park has not grown naturally, but has been painstakingly planted. It is certainly only 2 Euro per car, but long live the Right of Public Access. We Swedes are really lucky.
I would like to end with a little consideration – a look back. One thing I did not like at all in Ireland was that drivers always honked when someone drove a little slower, looking for the right direction. My Finnish colleague tried to prepare me for this, when I had just bought the car. She said, I should not care about the honking, it would just be a nice reference to the respective reminder that I should continue. However, I have not perceived it as such. I was at least glad that my car had not been registered in Dublin, but had the license plate from Cork. Due to this, it was not as bad to drive in Dublin or in the neighboring areas as with a Dublin licence plate. In any case, little consideration was given. In Ireland, and especially in Dublin, it has happened several times, that people walked across the street very slowly when the traffic light was red for them. I have got the impression that they thought they owned the street or maybe they were completely in different thoughts and did not pay attention to the danger to life they were in.
I am glad, I have hiked the Irish mountains, so I know what that means and I am proud of myself, because I have made the excursions in the Wicklow Mountains and my lonely hike to the top of Diamond Hill in Connemara. The two peaks on Errigal Mountain in Donegal, which I have climbed with my son Samuel, have been my masterpiece, because the path occasionally went very close to a steep slope and I have on this occasion overcome a bit my fear of heights – but a Ferris wheel, I will never enter again!
I agree with the saying that Samuel has introduced me to: “In Ireland you do not need a prison, because the whole country is a prison.” This, of course, refers to all high walls and fences. That was probably also why I was so happy to get out into nature and up on the tops of the mountains. This was freedom for me. The freedom I was so used to in Sweden and which I love with all my heart.
The economic success that started when Ireland joined the EU in the early 1990s has probably changed a lot in the country. At least that is what people said, I have talked to. When the “Irish tiger” awoke, all changed. With the better economic times, the Irish have probably lost the important values of life. The Irish seem indifferent to the ruins of the old houses, to the bad roads and maybe also, what others think of them and also no longer seem to see the value of providing good service. Nor do they seem to take the care of themselves, their children and animals seriously. Many times I have seen parents with children in strollers, who ate french fries and/or burgers. The number of dogs that do not seem to have a home is frightening. One must be careful that no one accompanies one home. The animal shelters are overcrowded and no one seems to care. Of course, there are also positive exceptions everywhere. Another problem is, that, despite financial success, people are still in large numbers relying a lot on charity. There is not much education for adults for those who are not born with topsoil in their pocket. Projects for these are financed exclusively with EU money. I have seen with my own eyes how much it means to many of these people to get a little recognition that they at least know something. I look up to the leaders of these classes. We take so much for granted in Sweden – experiencing Ireland is a gratitude. Even the Catholic communities here still show real compassion and warmth. I do not share their beliefs and I find it frightening how many Catholic couples live in separation and cannot be divorced, but there are always two sides to every medal.