Famous quotes on writing from master wordsmith Oscar Wilde

The wit of Wilde

As many of you may have guessed, I named this site after Oscar Wilde, one of Ireland’s most famous and celebrated writers. Of course, our little island boasts many wonderful writers, and I chose Wilde over the others because of his famously quick wit and ability to get straight to the point.

So what can PR and Marketing pros learn from Wilde’s words? Here are some of his most famous quotes about reading and writing that everyone who works in communications should read:

  1. “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.”
  2. “The imagination imitates. It is the critical spirit that creates.”
  3. “If you want to tell people the truth, make them laugh, otherwise they’ll kill you.”
  4. “Consistency is the last refuge of the unimaginative.”oscar-wiled-writing-quotes
  5. “I am so clever that sometimes I don’t understand a single word of what I am saying.”
  6. “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
  7. “Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.”
  8. “The public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”
  9. “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”
  10. “Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else’s opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.”
  11. “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.”
  12. “Words! Mere words! How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel! One could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there was in them!”


What’s your favourite Oscar Wilde quote? Do you have a favourite play or story?

Leave us a comment – we want to hear your thoughts.

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GoQuest: Dublin’s newest adventure arena

This is going to be a tough post to write – how do I get across to you how much fun this place was without giving away a bunch of spoilers?

GoQuest, a new challenge arena located in a warehouse in Finglas, is essentially a cross between ITV show The Cube presented by Philip Schofield, and the Crystal Maze, the most exciting gameshow of the 1990s.* Split into teams of between three and five people, you set out to explore 27 rooms across four themed zones, each of which contains a unique challenge. With under an hour and a half to complete the challenges, time is tight and the pressure is on.

The challenges are divided into three categories: physical, mental and skill, each of which has a difficulty rating of between 1 and 3. Thinking back, my team and I rushed from one room to the next without paying much attention to the difficulty ratings, but if we wanted to be more competitive, we could have been more strategic and focused only on the rooms worth three points. Be warned though – these challenges are not a doddle!

The rooms are a test of logic, speed, team work, observation, general knowledge, agility, aim, perseverance and much more. Settings include an old fashioned living room, an alien HQ, a boxing ring, and Tarzan and Jane’s jungle, to mention but a few. It’s a real bonding exercise with your teammates – encouraging each other the whole way through, commiserating after an unlucky loss, high fives all the way when the light goes green! There was a huge amount of laughter the whole way through, and a massive sense of achievement with each challenge completed.

It would be great for a work night out/team bonding exercise, and I’ve already suggested it at my workplace (I can impress my colleagues and managers with my logic, not letting them know I’ve been through once before.) Hats off to the staff who are friendly and helpful, occasionally offering helpful hints if you’re stuck, letting you know when you’re in the lead and giving gentle reminders of the remaining time. They were very professional and good humoured.

Huge thanks to GoQuest for inviting a bunch of bloggers to try the place out. I felt properly old around a bunch of people in their late teens/early 20s, but it was a great way to spend an evening nonetheless. Regular entry costs about €16.50, with discounts for larger groups, which seems like good value to me.

For more information, check out their Facebook for more details.

PS Sorry I have no photos from inside the rooms – we were asked not to give the game away, which is fair enough – plus the clock was ticking and we didn’t have a moment to waste once we got in there!

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*May not actually have been the most exciting gameshow of the 1990s.


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.


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.

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?

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


{NSFW} “I mean – you can’t even have morning sex.”

I have a confession to make everyone.*

I strongly recommend that family members close the page now. [Don’t say I didn’t warn you]. Al-right, hold on to your hats.

I have pubic hair.

Phew! I am so glad I got that off my chest. Are you done retching or reeling in shock? I know the shock announcement of this completely natural phenomenon falls somewhere between “I pick my nose and eat it” and “I lost my virginity to my cousin” on the disgust-ometer. In a world that is obsessed with the female body and sexuality, it seems like public hair is the last taboo. But I’m inclined to think feminist writer Caitlin Moran is right when she says that two of the most vital things a woman can own are a pair of yellow shoes and a muff.

katie-harrington-ireland-blogWhilst having tea with some lovely lady friends the other day, the topic came up as one of our number was off to have her vagina waxed. She was going to be having some sex that night and apparently these days waxing is a necessary precursor.  Necessary. It’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to do. Surprising as it may be, I have never felt the need to hand over any of my hard-earned cash to have a stranger spread sticky stuff over my nether regions and wax my pubes off strip by strip. It’s painful. And they make you go on all-fours to do your ass crack. Crazy as I very may well be, it just doesn’t sound like a whole pile of fun.

But somehow, with our over-the-top modern expectations of female grooming, it has become necessary. Why? Because if you just shave, according to my colleagues:  “You can’t even have morning sex”. Really ladies? One night’s worth of regrowth such a horrendous thing that you couldn’t let your other half near you? Apparently so.

The thing is, if and when I eventually have a baby, I’d like my Baby Daddy to be there for the birth. Now he’s going to have to deal with a lot in that situation; dilation, an umbilical cord, possible even involuntary pooping, not to mention a tiny human fighting its way out of my body. If he can’t deal with the idea that a woman might have some pubic hair, I’m just not sure he’s going to be able for all of that. I need a man made of sterner stuff.

The idea that women should be bare down there is a relatively recent phenomenon. I’m blaming porn for giving men the idea that only a vagina with less hair than that of a 14 year old can be considered attractive. The pictures dotted around this post are from 1970s issues of Playboy and Penthouse and I think they’re pretty sexy. Don’t you? Beautiful women, owning their bodies.

I’m not opposed to a bit of “maintenance” as you might put it, you certainly don’t need to consider me an advocate of Keith Lemon’s Jackson 5 theory! I’m merely throwing it out there that in a world without taboos, we accept that women were given pubic hair by evolution or by God depending on what you believe in, and it’s not necessary to get rid of it.

Your thoughts?

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PROGRESS REPORT: 30 things to do before you’re 30

Happy New Year, everyone! Hope it brings love and happiness to you and yours.

Instead of making whole brand new set of resolutions this New Year, I thought I would look back at the 30 things to do before you’re 30 post I wrote a few months ago and see if I’m on track. I wrote it shortly after I turned 27 in June, and is intended as a mixture of things both fun and practical, to get me out of my comfort zone.

Updates in italics.

TL;DR – As of January 1, 2016

  • Five goals out of 30 are achieved
  • 25 are in progress or need to be started
  • 899 days still to go until my 30th birthday, June 16, 2018


familyGet professional photos done and frame the best one: Well, I’m not getting any younger, am I? Some lovely photos will be great when I’m older looking back.
Achieved! My Christmas present to the family this year was to have a professional photographer come and take photos of us during one of the brief periods when we are all in the same country. If When I achieve #9 and I’m proud of my body, I’ll be hoping to get individual shots done.

Move home to Ireland: My target date for moving home has been pushed back repeatedly, and right now March 2017 is the target date.
Achieved – whoop whoop, I moved home earlier than expected in December!

Join a sports team: I’m not a sporty person at ALL, the only team I was on in school was the debate team. I want to join a sports team for the fitness and the camaraderie.
Achieved! I joined Qatar GAA in August and trained with them for two months, as well as going to a few of the socials. Unfortunately, training clashed with some of my other commitments, so I stopped going. It was a fun experience and I’m glad I did it.

Adopt a dog: I follow lots of pet shelters on Facebook- I really want one but I travel a LOT. I need to come up with contingency 12279227_10153632642501163_9090235166536710882_n
plans for when I’m away before I get a doggy.
Achieved. I adopted Harriet in August 2015. She had been abandoned and was badly neglected and likely abused, based on her scars. After a couple of months at my place, she was almost fully toilet-trained, her coat had grown back and she had a whole new personality. Sadly, my sudden departure from the Middle East in December meant I couldn’t take her with me, but she’s doing really well with a friend of a friend and I get regular photos and videos from her new family. I guess this ended up as more of a foster situation than an adoption, and I’m glad I was able to nurse her back to health before I moved away. 

Take up a completely new hobby: Ideally something that would involve meeting cool, interesting, creative people. Any ideas, folks?Achieved. I spent a few afternoons walking rescue dogs at the shelter in Qatar, and I had a great time. Now that I’m back in Ireland, I’m looking for a brand new hobby to take up my time. 


Learn to drive: Why didn’t I do this years ago? I’ve spent years living in cities where it wasn’t really necessary. But I’m from rural Ireland – any time I visit home I feel trapped! I revert to being a teenager, relying on my parents for lifts everywhere. This HAS to end.
I’ve just booked my driver theory test for next week, and all going well I’ll be on the road doing my lessons by the end of the month.

Buy a house: There are lots of advantages to being an expat, but I want something substantial to show for my years abroad. I want a home that’s my own.

Write a book: I love writing. I’ve always wanted to write a book… I just don’t know what kind. I get all sorts of ideas for fiction and non-fiction books, poetry and short stories… It’s just a matter of nailing an idea down and writing it.
I have two ideas in my head, one fiction and one non-fiction. The first is a book of short stories, a couple of which are already written, and the second is a book of advice for young people who want to give up alcohol based on my own experiences. Watch this space.

Start a postgrad: I don’t feel like I’m finished with education. I’d like to do an online postgrad in something like International Relations or Crisis Management. Since most part-time Masters take three years, I’m not going to aim to complete this – just get it started.
This idea is temporarily shelved. Depending on how my job hunt goes, I’m not sure how much value a post-grad will add. I’ve changed my mind a few times on this, and may do so again.

Take Mam and Dad on holiday: My parents have made me who I am today and I owe them everything. I was a pain in the ass in my teens and even early 20s – it’s time to start giving something back.
This is definitely going to happen, as soon as my parents get less busy. My mam has all kinds of commitments and my dad works really long hours – but I will make this happen!

Achieve decent conversational Arabic: I don’t need to be fluent, and I don’t need to know how to write it – but I’d love to be able to have a proper chat with friends and colleagues in Arabic.
Based on my early departure from the Middle East, this may no longer be relevant. I’m going to change this goal to ‘Become proficient in a language other than English’.

Earn a body I love to see in the mirror: I’m not too down on myself in terms of how I look – I’ve got great hair and lips, skinny legs and nice boobs. I’m not awfully overweight, but I know I would be happier with how I looked if I was slimmer and more toned.
Well, they say “nothing changes if nothing changes”, and since I haven’t changed my diet or started exercising regularly, my body has not changed much. Yes, I joined the gym yesterday, and I’m hoping to be the exception rather than the rule when it comes to this year’s January joiners.

Go to Electric Picnic or Glastonbury: I want to don festival gear and trawl through fields to see amazing artists… Before I’m old enough to be confused for somebody’s mother.
Hoping to go this year! Who’s going?

Have a post go viral: This has happened me once before on a previous blog and it was so cool!
I need to settle on a definition of viral. This post I wrote about Galway was widely shared and received thousands of hits over a couple of days in December. I’ve read than if your post receives 15 times what a regular post does, that means it has gone viral. Since the hits are still racking up on this post, I think it might actually fit the bill. I’d still like to see something go properly viral though and get tens or hundreds of thousands of hits.

Read five non-fiction books about Irish history: I want to know more about my country’s past and present. I love reading, so this should be a relatively easy one! Any recommendations, folks?
Currently reading a collection of essays by Michael D. Higgins, but I need to do more work on this. The 1916 centenary should provide ample fodder for this one.

Learn to make at least one amazing starter, main course and dessert: Because my 30s will presumably consist of many
classy dinner parties and I’ll want to keep up with the Jones’.I make a decent vegetable soup and an awesome roast chicken, I still need to learn how to make a good desert. This year, I’d like to branch into something a bit more exotic, maybe take an Indian cooking class, or Thai?

Go vegetarian for a month: Or maybe longer, depending on how it goes. There are so many good reasons to go vegetarian but I just LOVE meat! This one will be hard.
I made my first attempt at this recently and lasted six days, which wasn’t bad. I put very little planning into it, and I broke on Christmas Day and ate turkey. I need to do some more research on simple recipes and ingredients before I try this again.

Learn to play chess: I never learned as a kid and I always feel dumb when people are playing and I don’t know how!No progress. Maybe I’m just destined to be more of a draughts player. Anyone want to teach me?

Explore Ireland: Climb Croagh Patrick, see the Cliffs of Moher, walk the Ring of Kerry, go to the Giant’s Causeway and stay a night on the Aran Islands.This is the year.

Meet Russell Brand: Don’t judge me. I love him. If he would consider marrying another Katie I would happily oblige.I’m planning to go to the Trew Era campaign when I’m in London later this month. Hoping against hope Russ will be there. I feel we are close enough that I can call him Russ.

Write a comedy skit or spoken word poem and perform it: I probably should have done this in school or college but I didn’t have the confidence.
I totally failed on this front. I put my name down for a spoken word poetry night, but I totally balked and just didn’t show up on the night.

Spend a 3-4 weeks volunteering in a developing country: Everyone I know who has done something like this has come back with an amazing perspective on life. I’d like the opportunity to gain the same, and hopefully make a difference.

Complete a sprint triathlon: After a small amount of training, I did a super sprint triathlon. I would love to train up and do the next level – this will involve learning to run
!I’m registering for the Westport Triathlon as soon as reg opens – time to get training. Confident I can do the swim and the cycle, but it’ll take some training to do the 5k run – it’s a type of exercise that just doesn’t come easy to me.

Play Texas Hold’em in Vegas: I loved playing poker in college but I haven’t really played in years since I moved to the Middle East. What better place to make a comeback than Sin City?
This goal may need to be revised – I’m not sure taking up gambling is the brightest idea I’ve ever had.

Organise a fundraiser for St James’ Hospital: This hospital was instrumental in bringing one of my close family members back to health when he was really ill. I’m going to set a target of €5,000 for it.
When I live in Dublin, hopefully in the near future, this one is going to become my top priority!

Start a retirement fund: This is a boring one, but it seems like a good idea.
I’ll be needing a job before I get on to this. Should probably be working on that instead of writing this.

Learn to do yoga and/or meditate properly: I need to do this. For health, balance, peace of mind. I’ve made some half-hearted attempts to do this in the past, but I’d like to do this properly
.A renewed effort will begin tomorrow morning. If any of you have tips on meditation, please share them,

Write a letter to a stranger and leave it in a book: Just because I’ve read some really lovely stories about things like this.
50% done. I have written the letter, now I just need to find the right book to place it in, and I’ve got one in mind. Watch this space.

Go to a TED event: So much wisdom in one place. I love TED talks and the opportunity to meet some of these people in real life would be amazing.
Haven’t even looked into this – deferred to next year.

Fall in love: I debated whether to put this down. Of course, you can’t plan when you fall in love. But if I don’t choose to make it a goal, I have no hope of manifesting it in my life. Here’s hoping.
Does falling in love with myself count here? Seriously, I’ve done a lot of work on learning to love myself this year, and honestly I think that gets me half-way there.

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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Looking for great accommodation at incredibly reasonable prices? Check out Air BnB. Join with this link to get a US$35 discount on your first stay.

Sober Christmas: Why I won’t be celebrating with champagne 

I have this image in my head of what a night out in a pub or club looks like – Everyone looks very glamorous, there is a lot of laughter and flirtation, the banter is flying… (now that I think of it this image is very similar to what most alcohol advertising looks like) It’s important for me to remember that that’s not what it looked like when I drank alcohol. When I drank, it kind of started like that, but it usually ended with mascara running down my face, high heels in my hand.

Nights out are so much more fun now... here with my beautiful sister and lovely friend.

Nights out are so much more fun now… here with my beautiful sister and lovely friend.

Of course there were good times, especially in the early days. I loved how alcohol seemed to let me be myself – freed me of my inhibitions. Everyone was my friend, or so I thought, and life was sweet. I had a large circle of friends and most of them had no problem with the fact that I regularly got drunk enough to black out, fall over, or both. In fact, for some of my drinking buddies it was a form of entertainment… “What’s Katie up to this time?”

In my late teens and early 20s, it didn’t  matter that much. I was having fun, and if embarrassing myself occasionally was the price I had to pay, I was fine with that. Over time, though, things began to change. My friends were maturing – developing careers, getting married, having kids – while I was stuck in this live-for-the-weekend (or occasionally Tuesday) party lifestyle. The days when I could spring out of bed after a wild night were gone, and horrific hangovers were starting to take their toll.

I cringe when I look back at photos of that time now. I’m overweight, red-faced with booze, and just all over the place in 90% of them. I feel sorry for the girl in those photos, who had to drink to escape how she felt about herself, to distract her from constantly feeling not good enough. I tried desperately to convince myself that I was having the time of my life, but in reality I was incredibly lonely. Today, I have much more confidence in who I am. I face life instead of running from it.

Three months after I gave up drinking, at my best friends' wedding with all my school pals.

Three months after I gave up drinking, at my best friends’ wedding with all my school pals.

On the morning after my last binge, I decided enough was enough. I didn’t want to live that way any more. I was a bit scared about the idea of giving up drinking, and I wasn’t sure if I could do it – but I did. I asked for help and I got it. I haven’t had a drink in almost two years now and my whole life has changed- I honestly had no idea how much of my time and energy alcohol took up. Without it – and the hangovers – I took up hobbies, I changed my job, I made new friends and I became closer to my family. I started travelling again. I’m healthier and happier.

I lost a lot of drinking buddies; people I had nothing in common with apart from a love of the sauce,  but my real friends are all still there. I go on nights out with them to bars and clubs, and when I wake up the next day, I feel great. I don’t have The Fear, no regrets. I chat and laugh and dance and I go home when I want to. I used to make fun of people who went into bars and pubs and drank tea, and now I do it all the time.

Like everyone, I have good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks – the only difference is that now when I’m lonely or sad or angry, I deal with it instead of searching for a solution at the bottom of a glass of red. If I can do it, anyone can.

If you’re concerned about your drinking, you can take this quiz developed by John Hopkins University to find out if you might need help.

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5 reasons girls don’t reply to you on Tinder

So Tinder has pretty much revolutionised the way we meet the opposite sex. We seem to have moved past the stage where it was purely considered a hook-up app to a legitimate way to meet someone. Still, I hear a lot of complaints; girls who get lots of matches but few conversations that go beyond a basic initial message, and men who get fewer matches and no replies from the girls they do match with.

Here are some of the reasons I haven’t matched with you, or replied to you.

  1. Your photos suck: My personal bugbears with Tinder photos include: more than one person in your first picture, blurry pictures, being drunk in all your pics, being topless for any reason, photos with someone who is clearly an ex… And so on. Seriously, it’s not that hard to get a nice, in-focus, appropriate photo – take a selfie or get someone else to do it.
  2. You don’t have a bio: About 90% of Irish lads leave it totally blank, leaving me with the impression that you don’t have much to say for yourself and you’re not very interesting. A couple of lines about yourself or what you’re looking for would be good, but if that seems like too much effort, a quote you like or even a joke will at least tell me something about the kind of person you are.
  3. You put no effort in: You sent me a message that just said ‘Hi’ or ‘Hey’ and nothing else. Girls tend to get quite a few messages along these lines, so if you want to grab attention be a bit more original. Comment on something in the girl’s bio or photos, pay her an old-fashioned compliment, or say something completely random (I dated a guy who’s first message to me said ‘Let’s go skydiving’) Basically, start a conversation!
  4. You came on too strong too soon: I’ve had first messages from guys that have said everything from ‘I love you’ to ‘Sex?’ and even once ‘DTF?’, which I actually had to Google. If you’re as clueless as me, it means ‘Down to f*ck?’ Please do not ask for sex before you’ve asked how my day was. I’m not looking for an engagement ring here guys, just a little Aretha-style R-E-S-P-E-C-T. If you wouldn’t walk straight up to a girl in a bar and ask her for sex before introducing yourself, don’t do it on Tinder.
  5. You suggested ‘Netflix and chill’ for a first date: When we know each other a little better, say the third or fourth date, this might work. For a first date, it’s lazy and presumptuous. If you are not interested enough in me to buy me a peppermint tea or a cranberry juice and spend half an hour getting to know me, honestly you’re not worth my time!

So, that’s all for now on different ways men fail at Tinder. Men, am I being fair? Women, what would you add to the list?

Moving home

I walked around Dublin city and saw a girl with pink hair. For breakfast I had a fry up that involved three different kinds of pork. A couple kissed in the doorway of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre and on Molesworth Street people gathered to remember Jonathan Corrie and protest the homelessness crisis. I felt free, and intensely grateful to be back in a country where individual expression is allowed, a kiss can’t get you arrested, and we can protest freely government policies we object to.

I strolled down Grafton Street and Henry Street, enjoying shopping without going into a mall. Walking down the street I could smell the weed someone was smoking, and my friend told me I was lucky not to see someone shooting up – I forget at times how sheltered my life in the Gulf was.Taxi drivers still rant about all things scandalous, Starbucks is ubiquitous but there are plenty of unique little cafés too, Dublin has an atmosphere. People get my sense of humour.

Back home in Galway, Storm Desmond is getting in the way of some reunions. The rain is aggressive, winds are high, the streets are flooded and trees are falling. But I couldn’t bring myself to say I miss Doha, balmy as the weather might be. I’m curling up with a book, a hot cup of tea in hand, a grey woolie jumper on.

My brother is home for the weekend, my father’s just home from work. It’ll soon be time  for the Angelus and the 6:1 on RTE.

I’m home.

A trip to Kenya and a big decision

Have you ever gone on a holiday that genuinely changed your perspective on life?

Kenya did that for me.

I visited in September over the Eid break, and I loved every minute of it.

I landed in Nairobi, where I stayed with friends, and flew the next day to the Masai Mara.

exploring kenyaThe landing strip was surrounded on either side by zebras and other wild animals, and from the moment we touched down the landscape took my breath away. After a 25 minute journey in an open-top 4×4, we arrived at Mara Siria, an opulent bush camp owned by a German family and run by Kenyans, many of them from the Masai tribe. On the journey to the camp alone we encountered giraffes, monkeys, deer and more. The large, luxurious tents had running water, electric lighting and outdoor showers. There’s something about standing outside under running water naked in the African plains that makes a girl feel alive. The quality of the food was exceptional, and the camp was very accommodating to members of our group with Halal or vegetarian diets.

Our safari was organised with Mara Siria, and the guides were knowledgable, thorough and charismatic. The trip was timed to see the famous wildebeest crossing, and we saw thousands of them cross the Masai River. Incredibly, we saw them disperse as crocodiles feasted on the slowest among them, as a family of hippos looked blithely on. We saw several different prides of lions; groups of young males looking to start tribes of their own, females looking after their cubs and a male and female ‘on their honeymoon’, as our guide delicately put it. Majestic elephants and their babies made our day, and we saw lots of other animals from hyenas to ostriches along the way.

Honestly, eight hours in a four by four is quite literally a pain in the ass, but it’s worth every minute of it to see wildlife like this up close. Because of the wildebeest crossing, the lions and other dangerous animals were well fed, which made it safe to get really close to the lions [according to our guide]. As well as making sure we got to see the animals, our guide provided tons of fun facts, information on specific species and mating rituals.

I also visited the Masai Village, where locals live in huts made of mud and cow pat, and a Masai school children walk miles to reach each day. It was a truly humbling experience, and I’m okay with the fact that they ripped me off on souvenirs. If you are planning to go and see for yourself, I would highly recommend booking through Phoenix Safaris.

After two amazing days and nights, I woke up early on day three to watch the sun rise and head back to Nairobi. I have to admit the tiny plane didn’t really suit me, and I did have a little altitude sickness, as did my friend. Back in Nairobi, my friends went all out to ensure we got the ultimate Kenya experience, including making friends with orphaned elephants, kissing giraffes, eating at some of the city’s most amazing restaurants and touring the Kazuri bead factory, where authentic Kenyan jewellery is produced, providing an income for vulnerable women in the city. Throw in a trip to the UN, where one of my hosts works, a Game of Thrones night and my first ever game of Cards Against Humanity, and I really could not have asked for better hosts.

My last few days in Kenya were spent in Watamu, a small coastal town most tourists would never have heard of. My friends organised for us to go there with a group of some of the most passionate, intelligent and stimulating people I had hung out with in a really long time. There were two amazing things about Watamu; the first was that it was simply an exceptionally beautiful place. The house we hired had a beautiful pool that looked out over greenery, and beyond that a white sand beach and the ocean. I felt a sense of calm there that I have been chasing ever since. We did almost nothing for two days and nights but eat, drink, and talk (apart from a couple of hours scuba diving). The second was the people I was with, most of whom work in aid and development, all of whom were fun, bright, articulate people doing what they loved.

In the Gulf, by and large, people put aside their passion for a pay cheque, sacrifice their morals for the sake of status, and often lost sight of what’s important. While I was living a life of luxury built on the back of what is to all intents and purpose slave labour, my new friends were not earning a huge amount, but they were making a difference to this world. Each, in their own way, is contributing to something greater than themselves. I envied them, and the sense of satisfaction they had with life. Even the way they spoke about their hobbies seemed to hold more substance and sincerity than my five-star, cash-rich, frivolous, empty lifestyle.

I realised I was selling out, and it had to stop.

When I got back to Doha, it was hard to readjust. I had only been gone 10 days, but my tolerance for my neurotic, passive-aggressive boss had shrunk to almost zero. While he remained his usual self, I had come to the realisation that there are more important things in life. I had rediscovered the beauty in life, felt my soul revitalised by connecting with nature and was inspired by the wonderful people around me. I realised that I want to go back to Ireland and reconnect with my family and friends in a meaningful way. I want a job I feel good about, because that makes the hard days easier. I want to feel grounded, and right now I think that means being in Ireland.

And so, a couple of weeks ago, after a particularly difficult day at work, I decided that enough was enough. I handed in my resignation, and next week, I’ll be on my way home. In many ways, my 10 months in Doha have been a truly positive experience. I’ve learned a lot, I’ve grown as a person, and I have made some wonderful friends. But it’s been six and a half years since I have lived in Ireland, and it’s time to go home.

I want to say a huge thank you to everyone who reads and follows the blog. It’s how I got to know the city, where I vented on bad days, how I connected with other expats and shared my thoughts on Doha life. I hope you’ll stay with me on the next chapter of my journey.

Any thoughts on how I should rename the blog now that Only in Doha won’t be in Doha?

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