Category Archives: Return to Ireland

Villagers – the soundtrack

My first-time seeing Villagers live in concert was about ten years ago. A friend of mine asked if I’d be interested in seeing the Dublin band. I agreed – going to a concert is rarely a bad way spend an evening. What I witnessed impressed me greatly – soulful, melancholy and reflective music. Villagers can be classified as an indie-folk group but that wouldn’t be completely accurate. The only permanent member of the group is Conor O’Brien from Dublin. In the years since I have seen them / him live many times – from an old church in Amsterdam, to Vicar Street and the Iveagh Gardens in Dublin, to Dolans in Limerick. Last night’s gig was in the Limetree Theatre in Mary Immaculate College in Limerick. Having seen them earlier in the summer at the outdoor gig in the Iveagh Gardens, I know that last night’s concert would be more subdued. Villagers’music is wistful and forlorn so there would be none of the braggadocio that is required for outdoor concerts. Last night was advertised as an acoustic set. This wasn’t going to be a Bon Jovi with big hair type of gig. This is no bad thing.

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‘Homes for need, not for greed’ and other matters.


Some weeks ago, I wrote about my attendance at a protest in Summerhill Parade (read about it HERE ). Slum landlords – the O’Donnell Family from county Clare – had evicted 120 tenants without warning, where they had been living six to a room in five terraced houses. Anti-homelessness campaign group ‘Take back the city’ occupied the houses in retaliation to protest government inaction in addressing the housing crisis. The activists were evicted and, immediately occupied another city centre building – 34 North Frederick Street. This property is a Georgian building owned by the McGreal Family. This family are not slum landlords – they are property hoarders. The building has been lying empty for over three years. They are waiting to sell it for development at the maximum price  – presumably. Continue reading ‘Homes for need, not for greed’ and other matters.

My visitors turned my weekend into the ESB Christmas advert.

So the visitors departed, after their forty eight hour whirlwind visit from the big smoke. I was sad to say goodbye. Guiltily, I also felt a slight sense of relief. I hasten to clarify, that this is not a reflection on the company I keep. My friends are classy Bruces – glamourous and interesting. Continue reading My visitors turned my weekend into the ESB Christmas advert.

My glittering writing career

Rehearsals are well under way for the new Firedoor Theatre showcase called ‘Uncut’.

On a twice yearly basis this group invites writers and directors to submit new, or previously performed, pieces. If selected, a number of them get staged over a series of nights in a theatre in Dublin. In addition to the showcases the group also stages a full length theatrical extravaganza (also known as a play) a couple of times a year.

Firedoor Theatre is the name of the city based theatre group in which I am a member. I got involved, upon arrival in Dublin in late 2015. I had been a member of both the InPlayers English language theatre group, and the Badhuis group in Amsterdam, prior to my departure from that city. Always as an actor though. I joined this Irish group, partly to maintain my interest in drama. More realistically however, I wanted to meet new people. I was quite the Billy NoMates when I first landed in Dublin, after decades away. I thought that mingling among people with active ‘jazz hands’, would ease my re-entry into the Dublin social whirl. Continue reading My glittering writing career

Home, sweet home.

In a couple of weeks I’ll be witnessing the two year anniversary of my return to Ireland, after fifteen years in Amsterdam.

When I parachuted back into Irish life, in August 2015, I was clear in my head, that this (hopefully) triumphant return was merely to test the waters.

I had only ever intended to stay in the Netherlands for a couple of years. The fact that my time there ballooned to decades, didn’t alter my feeling that I was a transient. A temporary resident in the land of the clog. I knew that before I could acknowledge to myself, that perhaps I was now a permanent fixture in Amsterdam, that I would have to attempt living in Ireland again first.
Continue reading Home, sweet home.

A weekend planned in advance – chips from Donkey Ford’s

Later this afternoon I will travel to the homeland. To Limerick. Home place to Terry Wogan; Richard Harris; The Cranberries; Ruth Negga and Donkey Ford’s fish and chip shop. Incomprehensibly I have never partook of the deep fried goodness on offer in the latter location. Donkey Ford’s is a Limerick legend. A fast food emporium that has won national awards for its greasy goodness. Continue reading A weekend planned in advance – chips from Donkey Ford’s

The bookshelf of doom: ‘A place called Winter’

When I returned to Ireland at the end of 2015, I bid farewell to my book collection. This was one of the most heartbreaking parts of leaving Amsterdam. It was a collection that had been lovingly built up over decades. Comprising of books purchased in Dublin late last century when I lived there – these had been transported at my employer’s expense when I moved to the Land Below the Sea at the turn of the century – right up to the moment of departure, There were hundreds of books involved. Continue reading The bookshelf of doom: ‘A place called Winter’

Gobnait and the Greek

Rarely do I discuss my evening commute – the journey where I return to civilisation, from the armpit of Ireland – the industrial suburbs of Dublin. Perhaps it is because my heart is lighter – the workday is over and I have an evening to spend, as I see fit. There’s no sense of looming doom at this time. My spirit is lighter. In the evening I look on my fellow passengers with more goodwill and less fear (speaking of which it’s worth noting that Bruiser and Beyoncé are never on the evening bus). Continue reading Gobnait and the Greek