Dear Women: Want equal pay? Stop cosseting the men in your life

equal pay

Every time an article like Kevin Myers’ distasteful attack on women’s right to equal pay in the workplace appears, comments sections are rife with men claiming they earn more simply because they deserve to – because they are more capable, work harder, do longer hours and take fewer sick days.

Let’s take a second to smash the idea that women are less capable or less willing to pieces:

When it comes to academics, we’re killing it – and the same can be said for our early careers; employment rates in Ireland for female graduates are higher than those of their male classmates; most young doctors in Ireland are female, and the unemployment rate in March 2017 was 6.9% for men compared with 5.8% for women.

So let’s just dispense with the idea that women are incapable or unwilling to work.

And let’s take a second to really grasp how endemic this problem is; Brian Dobson gets paid tens of thousands more than Sharon Ni Bheolain at RTE for doing exactly the same job, Micheline Sheehy Skeffington was awarded €70,000 after being discriminated against in her role as a senior lecturer at NUIG, with four further cases pending, and women continue to be wildly underrepresented in the Oireachtas and Seanad.

There are a myriad of historical, cultural and socio-economic factors at play. possibly the most significant of which is the arrival of little ones on to the scene. Let’s examine a few of the reasons why women who compete so strongly with men in their teens and early 20s drop off the radar as they get older.

INTRODUCING YOUR INVISIBLE, UNPAID PERSONAL ASSISTANT

Almost from the moment they enter a relationship, men outsource the management of their social lives, travel plans, and familial obligations to the women in their lives (“Did you pick up a birthday present for my Mam? Is there a card to go with it? No, you write it”). Unfortunately I can’t offer any hard evidence in this regard – there’s no data available – but the mountain of anecdotal evidence is undeniable.

As the relationship gets more serious, the list of things women hold primary responsibility for expands; cooking, childcare, groceries, making sure the bills get paid, booking dentist appointments, laundry and housekeeping, to name but a few.

Men can afford to spend those extra few hours in the office because women are picking up the slack in every single other aspect of their lives – as well as working full-time in many cases.

This status quo suits men down to the ground, and they’re not going to change it unless we as women decide to stop doing these things for them.

“I can’t remember the last time I booked a flight” a successful male friend told me recently. “At work the PA does it, and at home my personal PA does it”, he said, with a cheeky wink at his wife, who has a successful career herself.

Another male friend recently asked if I wanted to go to a football match, and when I said yes he replied: “Are there tickets available for it?” He and I have access to the same information online, but the implication was clear; I should take over the organisation and planning. “Google it” I replied to his text, resisting the urge to add “I’m not your secretary.” Even in platonic situations – a meal with friends, a weekend away, the responsibility for organising, planning and booking most often falls to the ladies – and like eejits, we do it.

The much vaunted Irish Mammy must take a certain share of the blame for this, for that’s where the cycle of indulging young men and burdening young women with this type of invisible, unpaid life admin starts.

BUT WOMEN TAKE MORE SICK DAYS THAN MEN…

It is a fact that women take more sick days than men, but the evidence suggests that’s because men take too few rather than because women take too many.

Women are more in touch with their own health than men are, so they take time off when they need to – unlike men who are more likely to ignore health problems, choosing not to take care of their physical and mental health, which can have terrible repercussions, including an epidemic of suicide among young men. Seen in this context, fewer sick days is not necessarily something to be lauded.

In most cases, when a parent has to care for a sick child, they need to take time off work themselves – and in most cases, it’s Mam is left holding the baby while Dad goes into the office as normal. In order for mothers to succeed at work, fathers need to take on more of that burden.

TIME TO MAN UP?

The bottom line is that for women to thrive, men need to take more responsibility – for themselves and for their children.

All that life admin that your wife/ girlfriend/ mother/ female friends are taking care of for you right now adds up and it takes a toll. It adds hours to a woman’s day and impacts her stress levels.

And women, let’s stop underestimating men’s ability to look after themselves and to fully play their part in friendships, relationships and family life.

Agree or disagree? Leave me a comment.

 

Flirting with frugality: My attempt to become less consumed by consumerism

Let’s dive right into this guys. There are three things I know to be true about my financial situation:

  1. I am a fully grown adult
  2. I make a decent living – I earn more than a lot of people my age (29)
  3. I am consistently broke

It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but it’s true. The ‘why’ isn’t hard to figure out – the short version is that I have been living beyond my means for the last couple of years. During the five years when I was living as an expat in Dubai and Doha, I got a little bit spoilt. I was young and single, earning good money in countries where I paid no income tax.

Why wouldn’t I treat myself to manicures and massages? Prior to giving up drinking, bottomfrugalityless champagne brunches were the norm. Expensive holidays happened multiple times per year (No regrets on that front to be honest – Kenya and Morocco were worth every penny). And why would I bother cleaning my own apartment, cooking or washing my own clothes when I could afford to hire people to take care of all of that? I was profligate.

Shouldn’t I have been saving some of that money? Well, I kind of sort of saved a little bit along the way, and that was good enough at the time for responsibility-free me.

At the end of 2015, I moved back to Ireland. While I made some adjustments to reflect the fact the double whammy that had hit my income – I was earning a lower salary and paying taxes now,  I never really got out of the bad habits I picked up in the Middle East – eating out all the time, spending my money carelessly and paying people to take care of things I could easily do myself.

In the last month, I’ve put myself in considerable financial difficulty with a couple of poor decisions:

  • I bought tickets to see Ed Sheeran in both Dublin and Galway because I didn’t know which gig most of my friends would be going to
  • I didn’t like the crappy Samsung phone my new job was going to give me so instead of taking it (for free), I put €450 of my own money toward it and got a new iPhone 7 instead

The result? I have a huge credit card bill on top of the two small loans I had previously. It’s not a massive amount of debt, but there is absolutely no way I should be in debt at all. My savings are about 3-4 times what I owe, but for good reason they are locked away in a 7-day withdrawal account.

The buck stops here.

I’m almost 30. I have a decent career and good opportunities. I don’t have to live like this – knowing that as soon as my salary comes in most of it is accounted for already. A few months of frugality would clear my debts and leave me with the ‘fiscal space’ to really start saving for a mortgage. I want to buy a place in a nice part of Dublin, and if that’s ever going to be possible, I have to start planning now.

If you relate, you might want to follow my adventures over the course of August as I dip my toe into the world of frugality – cooking my own meals, doing my own chores (I know, #firstworldproblems) and finding free or almost free ways to have fun.

I’ve been reading the Frugalwoods blog for the last few weeks, and while I don’t plan to take it to their extremes, I’m hoping to put some of their tips into action.

My goal for this month? I’d like to still have some money in my account coming into my next payday. That might seem like a modest start, but it’s more than I’ve achieved in quite a while!

Have you ever tried to cut down dramatically on your outgoings? Let me know how it went in the comments. Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook!

 

On the Bus Eireann drivers currently holding Ireland’s most vulnerable to ransom

For more than two weeks now, elderly people in Galway have had no public transport, parents in the city – especially single parents – have struggled to get their kids to school, and ordinary working people like me who don’t drive have been spending hundreds of euro we don’t have to get to work and back.

Galway’s traffic, famously bad at the best of times, has worsened considerably.

Why?

Well, you’d have to be hiding under a rock not to know that Bus Eireann have been on an all-out strike for more than a fortnight.

I support the right to strike. Collective bargaining is a powerful tool for the workforce. When employees are being taken advantage of and treated unjustly, I actively support their right to withdraw their labour as a demonstration of the importance of the jobs they do.

Abusing the right to strike, on the other hand, is simply a case of holding the Irish people to ransom. So the question is, is the Bus Eireann strike just?

We know that the organisation made a loss last year, and we know that it’s making a bigger loss this year. We know that their wage bill is the single biggest factor in this loss, and we know that despite this, Bus Eireann is not making any redundancies or even suggesting a cut to basic wages. The organisation seems to be taking the actions it needs to in order to stay alive.

Bus Eireann proposed restructuring the companies overtime to save 12 million euro or 9% off their wage bill. Bus Eireann drivers rejected this, would agree to only 0.5 million euro in savings and declared an all out strike. Already in financial difficulty, the drivers have created a further multi-million euro black hole for the organisation through the strike as lame-duck Minister for Transport Shane Ross has steadfastly refused to get involved.

In any organisation, when losses are being felt, cuts have to be made. It’s a matter of logic. Refusing to talk about cuts to overtime is unreasonable. If the drivers were facing cuts to their basic pay, the public might feel more sympathy toward them, but their basic pay will be left untouched. Naturally, as a semi-state body, Bus Eireann drivers are among the most well-paid driving jobs in Ireland.

For the taxi drivers and other bus drivers in Galway who have been working overtime to help people get around, the salaries and entitlements Bus Eireann drivers have can only be dreamed of. This isn’t about preventing a race to the bottom – it’s about a sense of entitlement that pervades the public sector, a refusal to engage meaningfully in talks, a selfish disregard for the people they serve.

Asking the Irish people to bail the organisation out seems deeply unfair. I already pay twice over for every Bus Eireann trip I take – once by paying the fare and a second time through my taxes, which subsidise these driver’s salaries. I’m okay with that – but if the organisation needs to restructure their overtime to make the company feasible, maybe you just need to deal with that (or spend a week or two working in the private sector and decide which you prefer)

This strike has cost me about €400 so far, just in essential trips to work and to visit family in hospital. I’m deeply grateful that I can take a private service to visit my parents in Dunmore, and to get to Dublin, but I’m conscious that not everyone is so lucky.

The worst thing about it is that this strike isn’t sticking it to the man – it’s trampling on the most vulnerable in society. Pensioners are being deprived of their independence, Leaving Cert and Junior Cert students are facing disruption through their oral exams when they have more than enough to be stressed about, parents scrambling to put arrangements in place for their kids, and genuinely low-paid workers walking miles every day because they have no alternative. Tourists who bought tickets in advance are getting screwed over.

Put down the pickets and get back to work lads. Or stay out there, wait for Bus Eireann to go bankrupt, and throw in a CV to GoBus – you’ll have to up your customer service standards to get in with them though, they’re a really decent bunch of lads.

About Katie

katie-harrington-ireland

Katie Harrington is a 28-year-old travel and lifestyle blogger from Galway, Ireland. 

“I’m passionate about seeing the world and meeting people from different countries. I love noticing the similarities and differences between people around the world. In a divided world, I genuinely believe that experiencing other cultures first hand is one of the best ways to combat prejudice.

“In between travel, I write about Irish events, restaurants, and news, as well as opinion pieces on topical issues.”

 

 

 

 

How the Catholic Church can prevent abortion in Ireland

abortion in Ireland

Whether pro-choice or pro-life, I think we can all agree that generally speaking, the fewer abortions the better. When a woman becomes pregnant, the ideal situation is that she feels sufficiently supported – emotionally, financially and practically – that she wants to and feels totally capable of raising a child. But that’s not always the case.

We also know that banning abortion in Ireland isn’t working. Women who can afford it have the option of travelling to the UK or various different parts of Europe, while women who can’t afford that option are increasingly choosing to order abortion pills online. I’m sure we can also agree that getting an abortion is not a pleasant experience, so forcing women to take an international flight to get one, or to take abortion pills without medical supervision, is simply making the process of having an abortion more traumatic.

Given that the Catholic Church’s influence has waned dramatically in the last 30 years, and that with the plague of scandals the church is facing around their treatment of women (the Magdalene Laundries, the abusive environments and unexplained deaths in Mother and Baby Homes, the trafficking of women’s babies without their knowledge to the US for profit, denouncing unmarried mothers from the pulpit) the church might choose to stay silent on the issue of the Eighth Amendment.

Out of respect for the women they failed again and again over the course of generations, the church could choose to sit out of this debate.

But as they won’t, let me offer some practical tips to the Catholic Church on preventing abortion in Ireland.

READ: Dating in Dublin – An intro to Intro.ie

1. Subsidise childcare for single parents

One reason why women choose abortion is that they simply cannot afford to have a child. With no Dad on the scene to help out with childcare, going back to work can be problematic. The Bon Secours Health Systems has a very healthy balance sheet, with accumulated profits of €70 million. If they would like to simultaneously make amends for the wrongs done in the Mother and Baby Homes and contribute to the prevention of abortion, they should immediately establish a multi-million euro childcare bursary for single mothers who want to go back to work or education.

These bursaries should be open to women of any religion or none, and should be independently run with no religious ideology promoted among them.

2. Offer financial support at Catholic-run schools

Around 90% of primary schools in Ireland are run by the Catholic Church. Single mothers often come from low-income backgrounds and are at risk of poverty. A pregnant women, who may already be struggling with the cost of putting children through school, might feel that she simply cannot afford to have another child.

The Catholic Church can make an impact here. Each parish should have a budget to support single parents with buying school books, uniforms, paying for school buses, providing free places in homework clubs and taking part in extracurricular activities. As well as contributing to a reduction in abortions, this will serve as an act of contrition from a church that for so long ostracised the children of unmarried parents.

NSFW: “I mean… You can’t even have morning sex”

3. Support the criminal prosecution of any member of clergy guilty of sexual assault

A small proportion of Irish women who choose to have abortions do so because they became pregnant as a result of rape. How can the church make an impact there?

The Catholic Church has, in the recent past, actively colluded in the cover up of sexual assault of boys and girls. This makes the church’s position on rape and sexual assault ambiguous. As recently as 2016, the Vatican has told newly ordained bishops that they are not obligated to report sexual abuse cases. Instead, they claimed, that should be left to the victims.

That leaves victims of sexual assault by perpetrators outside of the clergy in no uncertain terms about the level of support the church has to offer them. As part of this roadmap to fewer abortions, the church should make it clear that it will report all suspected cases of abuse to the authorities and support the criminal prosecution and jailing of anyone found guilty of sexual assault.

To be clear – I’m not saying the Catholic Church is responsible for the pregnancies as a result of rape. I’m saying that they need to act as the moral leaders they so desperately want to be again and treat rape as the horrific crime that it is rather than covering it up.

Preventing abortion

If the Catholic Church’s aim is to prevent as many abortions as possible, I’m 100% onboard. I’m just calling for a change in strategy. Instead of trying to control women’s bodies through societal pressure and the rule of law, simply convince pregnant women that they have the support they need.

The Catholic Church has deep pockets, and instead of funding anti-abortion campaigns, that money can be used in any number of ways to prove to pregnant women that the support is out there for them.

Oh, and if after all of that is done, some women choose to have abortions anyway, don’t stand in their way. The Catholic Church’s approach to unwanted pregnancies resulted in a living hell for both the mothers and children involved; you have no moral high ground here.

All you’ve got is the opportunity to make amends.

Over to you…

Should the Catholic Church have a voice in the Repeal the 8th debate, given its past failures in supporting unmarried women? Would you back the ideas above, or do you have others to add? Leave a comment.

25 reasons I’m in love with Galway

Shortly after I moved home to Ireland in December 2015, I dashed off this post about things I love about Galway. I just rediscovered a more in-depth post I wrote on my old blog on the same topic, so I thought I would share it. Don’t forget to leave a comment with your favourite things about the Town of the Tribes.

Monday at the Galway Races: The Galway Races are the highlight of the city’s social calendar and Monday is the highlight of the races for Galwegians. Before the Dubs arrive down flashing the cash and the poseurs start circling the Champagne Tent (or the Fianna Fail tent in days gone by), Galwegians get together to exchange tips, have a tipple and catch up on another year gone by. It has all the craic of the rest of the week but without the pretentiousness of the latter days and half hour bar queues.

katie-harrington-irish-blogger-galway-eyre-square

Pic via Barnacles Budget Accommodation on Flickr.

Eyre Square: Eyre Square is the first impression people arriving to the city by train or bus get, and that’s no harm whatsoever. It’s a beautiful green area smack bang in the middle of the city that means different things to different people; On a sunny day you’ll find a totally laid-back atmosphere with kids kicking a football or throwing frisbee, groups of students eating ice cream and rolling “cigarettes”, while envious office workers grab twenty minutes outside over lunch.

Salthill: It’s a little bit noisy and a little bit tacky in places, but on the odd occasion when we do get a bit of sun, Salthill is the first place that springs to mind. Whether you want a leisurely stroll along the Prom, a whirl on the Waltzer, a game of giant chess, a wander through one of the numerous casinos or for the very brave a dip in the ocean; the smell of the sea air and the atmosphere of family fun in Salthill is a huge draw for Galwegians and tourists alike.

The Saw Doctors: Together more than 25 years now, the Saw Doctor’s have eighteen top 30 singles including three number 1s. On one level, the Saw Doctor’s are just a really good country-rock band with a cult following. On another level, a close look at Saw Doctor’s lyrics over the last two and half decades gives a reasonably comprehensive modern history of Galway and Ireland: coming of age, doubting religion, recession, emigration, disappointment, hope and friendship. A lot of their most popular songs are lively – maybe even a little raucous – but my favourites are the ballads they wrote about love.

Shop Street: Shop Street is the epicentre of Galway city life. The pedestrian street bursts with the energy of shoppers, tourists, students, buskers, workers and families. A mixture of high street shops, somewhat kitch tourist spots, street entertainment and leading on to the popular pubs of Quay Street – it is a veritable melting pot of life and culture.img_1614.jpeg

The Guard: If you haven’t seen Galway based film the Guard already, stop what you’re doing right now and buy, rent or download it. Now watch it and come back to me. From the writers of In Bruges, it stars Brendan Gleeson in another dark comedy following a small-town cop as he attempts to deal with cocaine smugglers, prostitution, a dying mother, a gay colleague moved down from Dublin, a couple of murders and a ‘Yank’ over from the FBI just for good measure.

Supermacs: What separates Supermacs from every other take-away? I don’t know. But they have the best chicken burgers in the world and the best taco chips. Inexplicably, Supermacs also tastes better in its home county of Galway than any other place in Ireland. [Edit: My Mac keeps auto-correcting Supermacs to Supremacy – both are basically correct)

Ladies Day at the Races: Okay so as I said above Monday and Tuesday are the locals favourite days at the Races, but I’d be lying if I said we weren’t a bit drawn in by the glitz and glamour of Ladies Day. It’s all about the dress, the accessories, the hat, the champagne for this Lovely Girls Competition. Horses- what horses? Today is all about the style!

Galway Girl(s): Galway Girl is an incredibly popular song, and Galway girls are a very popular species. Known for having a sense of humour and ability to laugh at ourselves, the way we speak our minds, our good looks and of course, our modesty, Galway girls are a welcome addition to any night out.

Christmas Market: While summer in Eyre Square is all about ice cream and frisbee, winter in the Square brings with it the Christmas Market, ideal for picking up stocking-fillers and trinkets. Pick up local products like seaweed skin care products of delicious fudge. And of course after a good mosey around, there’s no better way to finish off the day than with a stop off at the beer tent– to keep the cold out.
katie-harrington-irish-blogger-galway-christmas-market

The Roisin Dubh: The Roisin is the epicentre of all things alternative in the Galway music scene. As well as live gigs, there are regular comedy nights, headphone discos, open mic nights and more in the infamous pub.

The Omniplex: This one might just be personal to me, but back in the day before the EYE opened and everything was in 3D, the Omniplex was where my secondary school friends and I took our first unsupervised trips into town. While the early days were innocent, in later years these trips involved quick trip to Lidl across the road with notoriously bad fake IDs. In we went to an over-18s film armed with a bottle of cheap paint-stripperish vodka to go with our large cokes.

The Arts Festival: The Arts Festival is a world famous explosion of colour, theatre, puppetry and sound. Over two weeks the festival features the Macnas parade and shows for all ages and tastes. Tens of thousands of people attend hundreds of performances over 14 days. The city comes to life with crafts, street theatre (even more than usual), drama and dance, confirming Galway’s place as the true capital of culture.

Fairytale of New York: The best Christmas song of all time was written about Galway Bay. When it gets to mid-November and you’re pissed off because shops have been playing Christmas songs since Halloween, this is the one that’ll bring a smile to your face and get you singing along.

Street Performances: One man bands, human statues, balloon artists, unicyclists, break dancers – you never know quite what you’re going to find walking down Shop Street and through the Latin Quarter but wherever you see a semi-circle of onlookers go and join them for a few minutes of free entertainment.katie-harrington-irish-blogger-galway-buskers

The Corrib: The Corrib is a beautiful river flowing right through the heart of Galway. There’s something very soothing about watching the fishermen nearly thigh high in water over the Salmon Weir Bridge stand still for what seems like hours on edge to get the catch.

Michael D Higgins: He’s an intellectual, a cultural theorist, a political scientist, a poet, a champion of social justice and human rights and now he’s our President. His origins are Clare and Limerick but Michael D has long been Galwegian by choice. We couldn’t be prouder to claim him for our own. My favourite MDH quote has to be on the Dail floor; in response to “We can’t all be intellectuals like you, Deputy” was when he said “No, but you can aspire to be”. The man has got style.

The sing-songs: There’s no sing-song like a Galway sing-song. Whether it’s your Aunty’s 60th, a lock in at the local or sitting above the rock face at the back of Laurel Park, it always ends the same way. You’ve got two good singers that know the words and hold everything together while the rest drink and dance and join in for the chorus. Sure you wouldn’t have it any other way.

The Film Fleadh: Directly before the Arts Festival comes about, Galway hosts Ireland’s leading film festival over six days. It brings together film buffs, directors, actors and critics from all over Ireland and the world in a unique, intimate setting. The central goal of the Fleadh has remained unchanged over the 24 years of its existence – to bring film makers and audiences closer together. For any lover of film and the Arts hitting Galway for the end of the Film Fleadh and the start of the Arts festival is pretty much heaven.

Claddagh: There are few Irish girls who don’t have a Claddagh ring, usually given to them by a loved one. Originating in the village of Claddagh just outside Galway the heart symbolises love, the hands symbolise friendship and the crown represents loyalty. As time has gone on, the Claddagh ring has also become a symbol for pride in Ireland and pride in Galway.image

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop: Located on Middle Street, Galway, one could spend hours if not days mining for treasures in Charlie Byrne’s new and second-hand bookshop. From crime novels to college texts and everything in betweeen, Charlie’s is the ideal place for a mooch if you’ve got an hour to kill. It’s all but impossible to leave without buying something. The place is a book-lover’s dream.

The Rest of the West:  Much as Galway has to offer in itself, the city is also a gateway to the rest of the West. Croagh Patrick, Donegal, Connemara, Achill Island, Rossespoint, Sligo town and the Burren are just a few of the most beautiful places in Ireland, each with their own charms, and they’re easily accessible from Galway.

The Bog: Now you may not think of the bog as the ideal day out, but for those of us that grew up in rural Galway it’s a place full of memories. Sure, we bitched and moaned at the time, but looking back now it’s all sunshine, sandwiches, sitting on top of a trailer and laughing. And where else can you get a tan and and get toned up in the space of a week 100% free! Important note to family members: Please don’t take this obscure outburst of nostalgia about the bog as an offer to actually go there this summer!

Galway Bay FM: Back in the day before we all had iTunes plugged into every aspect of our lives (I’m talking 2003, people) a fundamental aspect of teen sleepovers was the tunage – and the requests played – on Galway Bay FM “It’s the late night love hour, with Corrine Gavin” Every week without fail she played Sinead O Connor’s ‘Nothing Compares to You’, usually with a cringe-inducing dedication like ‘That one goes out to ClaireBear from Jay who says he’s so sorry he didn’t text her back after school, he ran out of credit but he still loves her forever’… Ah, it was a simpler time!

The people: Ultimately, if you have to sum up what’s special about Galway, it comes down to the people. The city is home to Galwegians, students, artsy types, tourists, alcoholics, poets, musicians and many more. There is an atmosphere in the city that is difficult to describe – that’s what happens when you fill a tiny, historic city with people from all walks of life. If you don’t believe me… just come and see for yourself.

Have you been to Galway? What did you love most about it? If you are Galwegian, what are your favourite things about the place?

Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, and I’m also trying to get more involved with Twitter! If you want to know more about me, click here.

*Throwback! This post was first published on my old blog Oracular Spectacular in 2012. I’ve made some edits to it before reposting here.

 

18 things I love about Galway

Three weeks in, I’m loving being at home in Galway. Here are some of my favourite things and happiest memories of the town of the Tribes. If you’re Galwegian, add to the list. If you’re not, here are some of the reasons you need to put Galway on your bucket list.

18 things I love about Galway

1. Walking around the Christmas Markets, riding the carousel, tasting Aran fudge, banter in the beer tent, looking out for the Santa Express.


2. A stroll down the cobbles of Shop Street on a sunny day, passing the statue of Oscar Wilde, nowhere to go really, just wandering.

3. Leafing through a novel in a hidden corner of Charlie Byrne’s book shop; never leaving without buying something.

4. Getting dressed up for the Races, but going on a Tuesday ’cause you’re local and you couldn’t bother dealing with the crowd of Dubs on Ladies Day.


5. Watching the mixture of students, performers, hippies and Galwegians interact at the Spanish Arch during the Arts Festival. Having your whole perspective on something changed over the course of an hour long play.

6. Drinks at the Quays or Masimo’s, because let’s face it, we’re too old for clubbing.

7. Rediscovering our youth on gambling machines in Salthill, going down the big water slide and taking silly photos in booths.

8. Walking from the Square out to the Omniplex to see a film; meeting some boys there and doing a bit of kissin’. #throwback

9. Putting on the maroon and white for a match at Pearse Stadium, fully confident that Galway can win – and occasionally you’re proven right.


10. Watching students throw a frisbee in Eyre Square, while someone off to the side squirrels a joint together.

11. The inevitable trip to Supermacs after a night out, and sure if you didn’t get the shift on the night out, it’s always possible you’ll lock eyes with someone over a taco chip.

12. Knowing that the Fields of Athenry was written about somewhere up North, but not caring because it’s our song now anyway; always adding in the not-quite-PC bits.

13. People talking to you out of genuine friendliness, not trying to sell you something, just making conversation.

14. Giving a decent busker a euro because he brightened up your day. Giving a terrible busker a euro because God love him, he’s giving it socks!


15. A drive out toward Connemara, held up only by sheep in front of you on the road.

16. Always going into Brown Thomas for a look even though you know you’re not going to buy anything; heading into Penneys to buy a pair of socks and coming out with a whole new wardrobe.

17. Breakfast at the GBC, because that’s where you went with Granny when you were little and you never got out of the habit.

18. Loving being able to say “Galway”, when you’re asked where you’re from anywhere else in the world because nobody has a bad word to say about the place.

What are your favourite things about Galway?

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Shit people say to… Irish people

I’ve become a fan of these youtube sensations lately. My favourites thus far are ‘shit people say to feminists’ and ‘shit people say to twins’ – highly amusing ‘funny ’cause it’s true’ ways to pass three minutes.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yn0t1EkPe4c

So, that got me thinking, how might a ‘shit people say to Irish people’ go? Some of these are renowned sayings Americans are known for, others are things I’ve heard since moving to England, can you think of other ones?

-oh you’re Irish, me too, my great grandfather was called Pad-rick Donoghue from Ball-eeena

-so is Ireland part of the United Kingdom

-oh my god, you’re English is practically perfect

-top of the mornin to ya

-are you from Dublin?

-you guys are such alcoholics

-YOU GUYS TOTALLY KNOW HOW TO PARTY WUUUUU

-so how long ago did leprechauns become extinct?

-do you like, totally hate english people?

-is that in Dublin?

-say something Irish

-U2 totally rock!!!

-Galway? Is  that Northern or Southern Ireand?

-Sing an Irish song

-do you, like, eat anything other than potatoes?

Comment if you think I should make the video!

Being Irish: We’re just lovable rogues, really.

It’s great to be Irish.

We’re loved worldwide. In the last year we’ve had Obama, the Dalai Lama and even the Queen over for tea. We can be drunk at any time of day and it’s not only acceptable, but somewhat expected. Fiddles, Riverdance, our sense of humour, red-haired wholesome cailini and a pint of Guinness in a country pub – Ireland summed up in a sentence. Or not.

In today’s Irish Times, Shane Hegarty explores Irish stereotypes and how keen we seemingly are to live up to them “the stereotype of a mischievous bunch, simultaneously baffling and charming outsiders. It’s how the world wants to see us, so why fight it?” After all, the lucky, lovable rogue has to be better than being a boring German, snooty Frenchman, hated American or worst of all – English.

Po-tay-to po-tay-to po-tay-to!

Will we ever move past these dated stereotypes?

It’s not that all these things don’t make up a part of our culture but my goodness we just don’t all fit so neatly into this little box. Aren’t there any other characteristics we have developed during our unique history of struggle and generation-upon-generation of emigrants? While most of the stereotypes about the Irish are not all that offensive, they revolve around literature, arts, culture and our infinite ability to have the craic.

Going by our stereotype alone Irish people are fun to have around but of no practical use whatsoever. Could it be so? Can’t the world imagine for a second an innovative Irish person? Has our recent and long-term history not shown us to be practical and adabtable?

Do you know any down-to-earth French people or hilarious Germans?

Tipping – who, what, when, where and WHY?

“Oh God. This is so awkward. I don’t know what to do. Is this too much? Too little? I mean the food was great but the service was shoddy. If I don’t leave anything will they sneeze in my food next time?”

I hate tipping.

Not so much because of the actual money, though that is a factor, but just because I don’t get it. At least, in Ireland I don’t. We only had one little Celtic Tiger in the middle of a series of recessions, we’re not used to having money to tip with in the first place! It’s not the done thing; we just saw people in American sitcoms doing it and decided, for some unknown reason to copy them. FYI – waiters in Ireland get paid the minimum wage which is E8.65 or roughly US$11/hour.

Here in Abu Dhabi where bar staff and taxi men can work up to 17 hour days, my middle-class guilt means I usually don’t mind throwing in an extra few dirham.

But in principle, I’m still against it.

First of all, who gets tipped, and where? How come I have to tip the waitress who serves me in a restaurant but not the shop assistant who brings me 15 dresses? Why does the bartender that serves my drinks and clears my glasses get a tip but the guy in McDonalds who serves my food and clears my trays doesn’t? Why haven’t I gotten any “tips” other than dodgy fake perfumes, candles and love letters from six year olds for educating the future of the Middle East?

In order to be more fair to everyone, I think not tipping is the answer. After all- these people are being paid to do a job, by their employers. If they’re not being paid fairly, that’s an issue they need to look at and discuss with their bosses – why should I subsidise him in paying his staff? I thought I was already doing that anyway by frequenting his (or her) establishment.

And do you tip no matter what? That seems to be the case in the US (yank friends, feel free to correct me!) but I thoroughly resent handing over more of my hard-earned cash if the food wasn’t that good, the service was sloppy or if it has been 3.5 weeks since payday. On the other hand, I quite like leaving a little extra if the server has been particularly friendly and/or efficient. It just doesn’t make sense to me that it should be automatic.

Opinions?

Who do you tip, where and why?

Singing in Public

Alternative title: Why kids are awesome.

Some people in life are born with mellifluous, angelic voices that send you into spasms of naughty pleasure at the first note. Others are not. I feel no shame in saying I fall into the latter category. Over the years I have come to accept that when I eventually rise to international superstar-dom it will not be as a result of my musical talent. Most likely it will be because I have tricked a pseudo-celebrity into sleeping with me and filmed it. [That’s been done? No way! Back to the drawing board I go]

There have been just two occasions in the last twelve months wherein I have voluntarily sang in public. The first was in August, at my Aunt’s 50th birthday luncheon, somewhere in the backwaters of rural Ireland. Platters of delicious food, pleasant conversation and lots of red wine. Lots and lots of red wine.

A raucous cacophony of sound began at around seven o’clock. By that I mean, my somewhat inebriated thoroughly-wonderful-but-not-entirely-musically-gifted extended family started a sing-song. Ordinarily I would have skulked in the background, somewhat embarrassed. But today was different – Drunken confidence abounded. With shaky notes but sturdy confidence, I belted out tunes, forgetting verses and repeating choruses no end. Everyone there was family and all but two were drinking at least as much as I so there was no need to feel shame! It was a really great evening.

On the only other occasion this year where I sang alone, I was completely sober. I was covering a class for another teacher, but they were supposed to have Arabic, and my Arabic diction just isn’t quite good enough to give lessons yet. So we sang songs. They sang their national anthems [Emerati, Iraqi and Syrian] and then asked me to sing mine.

“No way” I told them.

“Please, miss” They are so damned hard to say no to. Besides, they’re eight, if they laugh at me I think I can deal with it. And give them detention.

Off I went “Sine Fianna Faaaaaail…..” I sang the whole thing, and the class sat enraptured. I missed notes  – lots of them, but the kids didn’t care because they were hearing something new for the first time (Irish) and they were happy because a new teacher [I had never met this particular class before] was engaging with them at their level. They clapped for everyone who sang in the class that day, no matter how well or badly, simply for having the liathroidi to get up and do it.

As I got up to leave several of them hugged me. I get hugged by random kids every day at work, some of whom I could swear I’ve never seen before, yet if I randomly gave some of my closest friends a hug they would look at me all funny.

With every day that goes past we lose more of our “inner-child”. Society gives us zillions of spoken and unspoken rules of appropriate behaviour. This is important, because running around your front garden in your underwear might have been allowed when you were a toddler, but these days it’s more than likely going to attract unwanted attention.

It would be nice though, if just occasionally in the sober light of day, we could break free from the shackles of society and our own self-consciousness – croakily sing our little hearts out and give hugs for no reason.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about how much I’m learning from teaching. These kids are educating me as much if not more than I am them.

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