So after all the talks and debates, we have a new Irish President, Michael D Higgins. Out of all that did run, he either got peoples number 1 or a lot of number 2’s. It will be interesting to see what direction he takes the presidency. He has also been someone who loves the arts, and a big campaigner for human rights, a very well spoken man, and has the nice quality of been able to add a little humor when he talks. I really hope that he will help push forward Ireland on the international scene when he gets a chance. At this moment in time with all going on in Ireland, banks failing, government looking for more powers, high unemployment and emigration, people struggling to survive, Europe not letting us write of bad loans to their banks and a number of other things that a few years ago seems impossible, it may well be good to have a man who is passionate about life, arts and protection of the most vulnerable, representing Ireland abroad. Someone who will sell Ireland to the world, show that while the country went though terrible times, the Irish spirit is still there, bubbling away under the surface, waiting for the day to come where it can burst back onto the International stage.
This week started off with me cycling into work, first time this year, and nice to get into the mood for cycling again. Sadly, had not been cycling the previous week as I was recovering from a chest infection. The joys of air con buildings, they help spread infections around. Monday and Tuesday were fine, but on Tuesday night I woke up at about 5 am with a terrible pain in my lower back and it running all the way up my shoulder. Not a great feeling, let me tell you. After about an hour it seemed to die down, however, I still was not feeling the best. Drove to work that day and during the day still had a little pain at the base of back. On way home from work, decided to called into the doctor. He did a few tests and it turns out I now have a kidney infection. He thinks that my chest infection must have got into the blood and then infected my kidney. I have to like how he is I was very unlucky for that to happen, and then add, if this does not clear up with antibiotics I will have a series of tests to go though, X-rays blood tests and the like. Hers hoping my luck improves. On plus side it did mean 2 days off work, and so a long weekend 🙂 Just now waiting for Monday to see if things have cleared up. If not, it could be a much longer break from work. Was happy I left my laptop at work on Wednesday, stops me from working from home when I should be resting.
Today I had to go and get my car its full medical, or NCT. This is where cars older than 3 years must get tested every 2 years to make sure they are safe for driving. Now some of the tests seem a little useless but am sure they there for a reason, other than making money 🙂 Thankfully my car passed with flying colours. Just in time for the upcoming GAA league campaign where no doubt I will be around the country seeing how well Sligo get on. On down side with the price of petrol now almost 1.50 a liter, it is costing €60 to fill it, I might have to start driving at a very slow pace to get maximum efficiency out of the car.
Been in Ireland at the moment, is a little strange. We have a Prime Minister who does not want to step down, even though rest of the country would like it. We have been bailed out by the IMF/EU due to problems caused by our banks, and to a certain degree each and every Irish person who thought the good times would last for ever, and kept taking the money the banks were giving out. It was not uncommon during the boom times to hear stories of people who went in looking for a mortgage for one value and the bank to go, sure we will give you and extra few 10 of thousands. I remember when I first bought a house just before the big boom started and it was 3.5 times your salary. This started been increased rapidly, along with overtime, bonus and share holdings all been taken into account so that the bank could give bigger mortgages. People took out loans from Credit unions to come up with the deposition on a 100% mortgage. The whole idea of looking after money was gone. Salaries shot up trying to match the high living standard we now had, and people like me, out of Uni in their early 20’s at the turn of the Century had it all, jobs, work, travel, more liberal Ireland.
Now a few years on, 2011 looks a different Ireland, we no longer are the big spenders, more the careful, looking after our money, looking for value and now demanding things are done. While a lot of people still talk of doom and gloom, there is no doubt Ireland is in a much better place than the early 1990’s. One of the things that I guess really brought it all home to me was my year away working overseas. When you see the true horror of war and violence and the pain and suffering it leaves on families, it does in some way have an effect on the view you have. It would be great if this is the year following on from the last 2 years of doom and gloom, that Irish people do take that look inside themselves and start to push forward again. Look at the hope that is out there, try and do something for oneself, rather than expecting others to solve the problems. We need to start to knuckle down, and build on our success again, learn the lessons, put in places laws that help prevent such recklessness and at the same time change old laws that do belong in the past, remove them once and for all. I can think of no better time to do a full route and branch reform of Ireland as now. Time will tell.
Well it has been an age since I last posted on my Blog. Decided to try and keep it up to date a little more, with updates once a week at least. Will see how that goes 🙂 This weekend, was down at the wedding of a good friend of mine, Aidan. The wedding was down in Tipp, all went very well, nice ceremony, good meal after and plenty of music and chatting was done into the early hours of Saturday morning 🙂 This was only my second civil marriage, for friends reading abroad, most Irish weddings still take place in the Catholic Church. There is a move now towards more people having weddings away from the Church as the have opened up rules in Ireland, where you can hold a civil marriage. Is great to see.
Rest of weekend has been spent, looking at what I can do to help out with St Vincent De Paul, and my work there each Tuesday evening. Thinking of ways of sharing information with all the volunteers and other groups in the area. Looking at google docs as a option, will see how that goes. Think it is important to be able to have all the information in one place and allow people to update and correct it as things change. I have to say, am really enjoying the volunteer work with SVP, it has given me a view on a side of Dublin I did not really know about. It was there in the background under my radar. One can see the effects the economy is having on people who are just about getting by. While a lot of people talk about all the benefits people get, you can see it not always the case. The life is very different, with other challenges. Would recommend people all to try it for a few weeks, even to get another view on the other side of life in Ireland.
My trip to Memphis had one down side. I lost my passport, not sure where it got lost but not a nice feeling when you know it is gone.
First port off call was to the consulate in Chicago and find out the procedures. I had to report it lost first at police station, then get all my paperwork together. As I was born in London this made it more complicated, as I have to prove how I got Irish passport. Mam is getting all the documents on her side, her and dad birth cert, their marriage cert and my birth cert. At the moment my birth cert has to come from London so just waiting on that.
Once all in place, they have to be taken to the local Garda station, have them write a letter to confirm all is correct sign and stamp it.
Then it is all faxed over to Chicago office where I drop in a form along with the faxed documents. All going well I should then have it in time before I due to leave.
I had to change my holiday plans and now going back to chicago a few days earlier so I can get it all processes. Thinking while in Chicago may explore up that part of the country.
On the plus side we were booking accommodation as we went so not a massive problem to change mid way. Guess south Carolina will have to wait for another trip to the US.
Last few days have been interesting. After leaving Chicago we drove on to Memphis. Ronan decided he would prefer to fly to New Orleans, he already had been to Memphis. Ray and I headed off on the long drive down, stopping off along the way in the usual road side stop offs and seeing one or two local towns along away. That night on arriving in Memphis we headed out for a bite to eat and a few drinks.
Next morning it was off to see graceland, I not a massive elvis fan, but as in Memphis had to go check it out. The house was much smaller than I thought it would be. Everything was well laid out and you could see the organisation of the tours has been well refined.
After that took a spin out off Memphis to see what it was like away from it all.
The next part of the trip will be onto New Orleans.
As I write this, I am out in a great steak house called Gibsons, said to have some of the best steak in Chicago. Ronan and Ray opted to stay in the pub for a third night, so I took a break and checked out the fine eating here in the city.
My first few days were spent seeing some of the many sights, Ronan was kind to fill us in on many of the different buildings. The weather is nice here, quiet hot, but after my time in PNG, do nit find it as has as usually I did. This may change as I go further south. There is no doubt when it comes to food, the portions here are massive. After my dinner tonight I was unable to finish all the potato and had to opt for a small dessert, with some nice earl Grayson tea to wash it all down. This place lives ups to it’s name of the best steak in Chicago.
People in the US have been friendly and chatty so far. Looking forward to the start if my tour tomorrow. Now must sign off and enjoy my sorbet and tea 🙂